78/100 Teaching “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came”


This has to be one of my all-time favourite carols, with its haunting, lilting tune.

Here’s the choir of King’s College Cambridge¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pliqObTHxUQ

However it’s not a straightforward tune to teach to primary school children. I had a class of 7-8 year olds who needed to learn it for their end of term Christmas service, and none of them knew it.

The melody has these lovely long, meandering phrases which are actually quite an earful to learn. My approach was to teach just the first two lines, “listen and copy” to “lah”. No, not even the first two lines… I started with just a few notes – the ones that fit the words “the Angel Gabriel” and slowly extended the line.

Then, once the melody was secure, we sang through the first two lines of every verse as “listen and copy”, explaining the meaning of the words as we went along.

The third line is another long and labyrinthine phrase, which I again built up from just a few notes until everyone was confident. And again, we sang just that line out of every verse (and again explaining all the words as we went along).

The refrain, “Most highly favoured lady, glo-o-o-o-ria” was less of a problem.

My reward, our reward, was to sing the whole carol, with a beautiful, sweet, confident sound. Perfect.



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