News broke earlier this evening that composer and organist Sir David Willcocks – him of countless Christmas carol treble descants, Carols for Choirs and credited for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols international reputation – has died, aged 95.
Willcocks was a rare individual. A special one too. In writing the descants we all recognise – Oh Come All Ye Faithful is a particular favourite – the composer succeeded in hot-wiring our collective memories with simple and evocative melodies that instantly conjur up Christmas. A remarkable achievement.
His legacy on a generation of choristers was considerable, so too the reach and impact of his work, even if most of us aren’t as aware of its scope as perhaps we ought to be.