Here is Jan Sandström’s atmospheric setting of Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming, performed live by the choir of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, England on Christmas Eve, 2009. Sandström is a contemporary Swedish composer and for me there is something about this music which captures the bleak, desolate Scandinavian landscape in December. It also has a unique flow. When the sun sets at 3:00 in the afternoon for part of the year, do you develop a different perception of time?
We’re used to hearing Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming in relatively simple four part harmony as it’s sung here by Chanticleer. Listen to the more familiar chorale version first and then contrast it with Sandström’s 1990 setting: