Iowa Choral Directors Association
R&S – High School Choirs

Octavo of the Month (September 2004)
Mike Walag, Iowa High School R&S Chair

The Coventry Carol

English Melody, 1591, arr. Steve Pilkington
GIA Publications (
SATB/optional handbells (G-6102)

Duration: 2:20
Medium Difficulty

This piece would make a great a cappella musical contribution to your seasonal concerts.  I think it would accessible to an average high school choir, albeit with some tuning challenges.  There is divisii in the bass and soprano at cadences and frequent half-step dissonances that paint the text in a meaningful way and add harmonic interest.

The form is Refrain, 3 Verses, and Final Refrain, with each verse receiving its own unique harmonic and rhythmic treatment, i.e. “Herod, the King, in his Raging” is expressed through marcato open fifths at a forte dynamic. Overall, it is a great teaching tool for vowel matching, phrasing, dynamics, chromatics and harmonic tuning.

This piece can be found in your Summer (2004) Convention packet. (James Jordan session).