“Winter Minstrelsy”
Eliza Flower (1803–1846)
for solo voice and piano
performed by
Alex Pratley – Baritone
Frances M Lynch – Piano

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Alex Pratley

Alex is standing in the snow in front of a white building with the lights all shining merrily. He is wearing a brown coat and scarf and smiling at us.

My name is Alex and I’m a freelance baritone from Guildford. I started my musical journey at 7 as a chorister at Guildford Cathedral and have been singing ever since! I graduated with distinction in MMus Vocal Performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2022, where I studied with ELECTRIC VOICE THEATRE singer Gwion Thomas who recommended me to their Young Singers Programme. This is my second recording with EVT and I am thrilled to be taking part in their ensemble training for the Eliza Flower Project in January 2024 as well.

Sepia drawing of the head of the composer surrounded by flowers

Eliza Flower (1803 – 1846)

Tinted lithograph of a drawing by Mrs E Bridell Fox, 1898/99 courtesy of Conway Hall Ethical Society

In nature the flower of this month isn’t really a flower!
was a symbol of fertility and protection from witches! These days it is said to bring good fortune, peace and of course adds joy to the Christmas celebrations.

A close up of a holly branch in the snow with just one little red berry hanging from it

“Winter Minstrelsy”
“Songs of the Months”
published by A J Novello, December 1834

The short editorial introduction explains that each song appeared throughout 1834 in the Monthly Repository – a publication associated with South Place Chapel where Flower’s life and work was based.

We are releasing each song in its allotted month during 2023. Please go to our Flower of the Month page for more information and to hear all of the songs we’ve recorded so far.

“Winter Minstrelsy”

C. Pemberton

The whispering foliage-song no more
Along the air is sweeping;
But, hush!– ‘twill chorus as before-
The spirit-leaves are sleeping;
December’s breath awhile shall be
The cradle of their melody.

Tho’ warblers from the grove are gone,
Here’s yet a joyous fellow;
For, hark!- ‘tis Robin’s song, no one
Was ever half so mellow.
And old December chirps to be
So welcomed by the minstrelsy

Then hail December! Let the soul,
The moments dark appearing
Make bright,- for it can change the whole
To beauty rich and cheering.
Old guest to thoughts in harmony
December ever welcome be.

Image of C. Pemberton by Engraver Charles Edward Wagstaff, after Octavius Oakley (Wikipedia Public Domain)

A sepia pencil drawing of a young man with curly hair wearing a very flouncy gown over his shirt and tie - he is seated so we don't see his feet

The words of the song were almost certainly written by

Charles Reece Pemberton (1790-1840)
Actor, Author and Lecturer

There are in fact 2 more verses which we’ve decided not to record – partly to keep the song short, but mainly because the language is a little tricky, particularly when sung…..!

the electric voice theatre logo - just the words on some spikes of colour