for Narrator (spoken), SSA choir, harp, piano, percussion (2 players) OR piano reduction
17 mins.

Written for the Choir of St Paul’s Girls’ School and first performed by them, conducted by Giles Swayne, at St Paul’s Girls’ School, London on 14th December 1976. The speaker’s part was taken by the High Mistress, Heather Brigstocke. Alleluia! may also be performed simply with piano, using the piano reduction in the vocal score.


  1. Good day!
  2. I sing of a maiden
  3. Balulalow
  4. Now in my soul
  5. Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Programme notes

Alleluia! was written in the autumn of 1977, when I was temporarily Director of Music at St Paul’s Girls’ School (filling in for my cousin Nicola LeFanu, who was taking a year out to write an opera). It was written for their Christmas concert, and was first performed by the St Paul’s Girls’ School Choir, with the Narrator’s part spoken by the elegant and redoubtable Heather Brigstocke, who was then High Mistress of that august temple of educational privilege. It is a sequence of five Christmas carols, scored for speaking narrator, harp, piano and three percussion. The carols are linked by short spoken narratives, which are accompanied by quiet repeated patterns played by the instruments. The words of four of the carols (numbers one to four) are early English. Two of them – I sing of a maiden and Balulalow – are settings of well-known words which have been used by many other composers before me. Now in my soul is taken from the York Cycle of Mystery Plays. The words of the fifth carol – Gloria in excelsis Deo – are taken from the Latin Mass. These are the words sung by the heavenly choirs of angels to the shepherds in St Luke’s  account of the Nativity.

Giles Swayne 2008