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Britten, Rejoice in the Lamb: Percussion

Here are the responses I received to my query about a
version w/ percussion of Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb.
Thanks to all who wrote! One respondent also pointed out
that there is an archived discussion on this subject in the
“Repertoire” section of the Choralnet website. Simply
find the piece in that section and look for the link under
“Internet Resources.”

-Sean Newhouse

My original post:

It seems that there is a version of Britten's Rejoice in the
Lamb that adds percussion to the organ accompaniment, though
the chorus is a men's chorus instead of SATB. Does anyone
know more about this version, particularly whether it is
still in print or available anywhere? Boosey, the publisher
of the standard version, doesn't list it on their website.
Also, could the percussion part be used in an SATB
performance of the work?

The responses (slightly edited to avoid duplication):


…there exists a percussion version with SATB chorus, which
was (as far as I know) recorded just once by the Choir of
King's College, Cambridge. It turns out that all the voices
in this rendition are male. If you're curious what it sounds
like, it seems to be available in a remainder from Berkshire
Record Outlet. See and
search for "britten lamb ledger".

Britten himself was said to dislike the percussion version,
and the percussion part is said to be very, very expensive
to rent. Steve Barnett (a regular of CHORALIST) recently
produced a recording of the Britten with the Dale Warland
Singers and might have more details to add. In short, the
standard non-percussion version is probably a lot more
worthwhile for your group to perform.


The version with tympani appears on a 1987 recording of
King's College Choir on EMI9CDC7 47709. There is only the
acknowlegement...(and in this version) percussion organ. In
The Britten Companion, Imogene Holst states that Britten
asked her to orchestrate the work for Aldeburgh in 1952 (pg
46) but in a cursory scan through the indexed passages
provides no additional info about tympani. Tymp appears in
Nimrod the mighty hunter, For I am under the same
accusation, The Bass solo (with tam-tam) and For the
Instruments are by their rimes. I bet the perc comes from
the Holst orch to which Sir David Willcocks or Philip Ledger
must have gained access.


Apparently the percussion parts were never published. Boosey
suggested to me a few years ago that I contact the HBritten
Trust. I never did but that may be the only option.


It's been recorded by Philip Ledger and the Choir of St.
John's College (men
& boys SATB, not TTBB). See:

Said to be Britten's own arrangement, but no publisher

lists the original version for
SATB & organ,
Imogen Holst's arrangement for SATB with organ and
orchestra, and E.
Walters's arrangement for SSAA & organ, but no arrangement
with organ and
percussion is listed.


…the David Willcocks/Kings' College recording (on EMI)
uses SATB with perc. (just timp., I think) -- you might try
and reach him to find out, or just pick the part off that
recording by ear.


Sean Newhouse
University of Rochester
Eastman School of Music