Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Boris Ord

Letter No.: 
Christmas Day [1946?]

The White Gates,

Dear Boris

Thank you very much for your letter which warmed my heart - I am so glad you are back at music again.
As regards an evening service - the atmosphere of smugness has so settled on those canticles that it seems almost impossible to lift the pall & get at the essence. I fear the service I wrote for Xts Hospital wd be no use to you.1
Now it seems ungracious after your splendid letter to make a grouse - but I have meant to do this for years - indeed every Xmas - but have never done it.
I deplore the almost entire absence of English carols in your King's College service. I think every English carol service ought to start with God Rest you merry & end with 1st Noel - then what about
The Lord at first
Virgin unspotted
Cherry Tree
Tomorrow shall be my dancing day
This is the truth
On Xmas night & many more

I only find London Waits, God rest you (I think that is new this year) & Holly & Ivy (which I am glad to see is not now called French in your programme) among the traditional carols - a small proportion to my mind.
I spoke about this to Darke2 last year & he did not know which were English and which were not!
Yrs with much gratitude

R. Vaughan Williams

1.  Services in D minor, Catalogue of Works 1939/1, dedicated to C.S. Lang and his singers at Christ’s Hospital.
2.  Harold Darke, organist of St Michael’s, Cornhill, 1916-66.


General notes: 

Transcript made by UVW. The original of this letter is not amongst the Ord papers now at King’s College Cambridge. The letter is printed in R.V.W.: a biography, p.272 omitting Darke’s name.

Cobbe 468; R.V.W.: a biography, p.272.
Original database number: