John Rutter

John Rutter

John Milford Rutter CBE (born birth date|1945|9|24) is an English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger and record producer.

Born in London, he was educated at Highgate School, where a fellow pupil was John Tavener. He then read music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was a member of the choir and then director of music from 1975 to 1979. In 1974, Rutter visited the United States at the invitation of choral musician Melvin (Mel) Olson and conducted the premiere of his cantata "Gloria" in Omaha, Nebraska, in the Witherspoon Hall of Joslyn Art Museum. The composition, commissioned by Olson's Voices of Mel Olson chorale, has become a much-performed favorite over the years. (In the same concert, the Young People's Choir of the Midlands performed Rutter's "Eight Childhood Lyrics" in its US premiere performance.) In 1981 he founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label "Collegium Records". He still lives near Cambridge, but frequently conducts other choirs and orchestras around the world.

In 1980 he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996 the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music.

He also works as an arranger and editor, most notably (in his youth) of the extraordinarily successful "Carols for Choirs" anthology series in collaboration with Sir David Willcocks.


Rutter's compositions are chiefly choral, and include Christmas carols, anthems and extended works such as a Gloria, a Magnificat, and a Requiem. Rutter's world premiere of his Requiem Mass, as well as his authoritative version of Faure's, was with the Fox Valley Festival Chorus, in Illinois, during his tenure with Cambridge. In 2002 his setting of Psalm 150, commissioned for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, was performed at the thanksgiving service in St Paul's Cathedral, London. He has also written an opera for young people called "Bang!"

He is published principally by Oxford University Press, and by his own company Collegium.


Rutter's music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century, as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes, in addition to the standard piano/organ accompaninment, has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment as well, utilizing various different instrumentations, such as strings only, strings and woodwinds, or full orchestra with brass and percussion, among others.

Despite composing and conducting much religious music, Rutter told the US television program "60 Minutes" in 2003 that he was not particularly a religious man, but he is inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers. [] The "60 Minutes" program, which aired a week before Christmas 2003, focused on Rutter's popularity with choral groups in the United States, Britain and other parts of the world, and on his composition, "Mass of the Children", composed after the sudden, tragic death of his son Christopher, a student.


Rutter's music is very popular, particularly in the USA (NBC's "Today Show" called him "the world's greatest living composer and conductor of choral music"); though in the UK it receives a more mixed reception. Some from the Anglican choral tradition do not regard him as a sufficiently "serious" composer. There is still great appreciation for his work in many parts of the UK, however, as illustrated by the following quotation from a review in the London "Evening Standard" (25/09/2005): "For the infectiousness of his melodic invention and consummate craftsmanship, Rutter has few peers."

In terms of performances he is probably the most successful choral composer of his generation. For example, his "Shepherd's Pipe Carol", written while he was still at school, is reputed to have sold well over one million copies in sheet music alone.

List of compositions and arrangements


*"Angels' Carol"
*"Candlelight Carol"
*"Carol of the Children"
*"Cantique de Noël"
*"Christmas Lullaby"
*"Christmas Night"
*"Deck the Hall"
*"Donkey Carol"
*"Dormi Jesu"
*"I Wonder as I Wander"
*"Jesus Child"
*"Joy to the World" (in pseudo-Handelian style)
*"Love Came Down at Christmas"
*"Mary's Lullaby"
*"Nativity Carol"
*"Of a Rose, a lovely Rose"
*"Shepherd's Pipe Carol"
*"Silent Night"
*"Star Carol"
*"There is a Flower"
*"The Very Best Time of Year"
*"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
*"Wexford Carol"
*"What Sweeter Music"
*"Wild Wood Carol"

Choral works

*"A Gaelic Blessing" for SATB and organ or guitar.
*"Carols for Choirs 2" ed. Willcocks and Rutter
*"Carols for Choirs 3" ed. Willcocks and Rutter
*"Carols for Choirs 4" ed. Willcocks and Rutter
*"Dancing Day" for SSA with harp or piano
*"Eight Childhood Lyrics"
*"Eight Christmas Carols, Set 1" for mixed voices and piano
*"Eight Christmas Carols, Set 2" for mixed voices and piano
*"100 Carols for Choirs" ed. Willcocks and Rutter
*"Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1" for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
*"Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 2" for mixed voices and small orchestra or piano
*"Child in a manger" from "Carols for Choirs 3" for SATB and keyboard or orchestra
*"Christmas Night" for SATB and keyboard or strings
*"Come Down, O Love Divine" for double mixed choir and organ
*"Cradle Song" from "Carols for Choirs 3" for SATB unaccompanied
*"Donkey Carol" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Flemish Carol" from "Carols for Choirs 3" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"For the Beauty of the Earth" for SATB, SA, or TTBB, and piano
*"Here we come a-wassailing" from "Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1"
*"The Holly and the Ivy" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Gloria" for mixed voices with brass, percussion and organ or orchestra.
*"I saw three ships" from "Carols for Choirs 3" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Jesus Child" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Jesus Child" for unison and piano
*"Joy to the world!" for SATB and keyboard or orchestra (2 trumpets, timpani and strings)
*"King Jesus hath a garden" from "Carols for Choirs 3" for SATB and piano or flute, harp and strings
*"Love came down at Christmas" for SATB and keyboard or strings
*"Mary's Lullaby" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Nativity Carol" for SATB and keyboard or strings
*"O come, O come, Immanuel" from "Twelve Christmas Carols, Set 1" for SATB and keyboard or orchestra.
*"Quem pastores laudavere" for SATB unaccompanied
*"Quittez, pasteurs" for SATB unaccompanied
*"Shepherd's Pipe Carol" for SATB and piano or orchestra or for SSAA and piano or orchestra
*"Sing we to this merry company" for SATB and orchestra or organ
*"Star Carol" for SATB and piano or orchestra or brass with optional children's voices or for unison and piano
*"There is a flower" for SATB unaccompanied
*"Three Carols" from "Carols for Choirs 4" for SS and SSA unaccompanied
*"Tomorrow shall be my dancing day" from the cycle of carols, Dancing Day for SSA and harp or piano
*"The twelve days of Christmas from "Carols for Choirs 2" for SATB and piano or orchestra
*"Wexford Carol" for SATB unaccompanied
*"What sweeter music" for SATB and organ or strings

Anthems and other compositions

*All Creatures of our God and King
*All Things Bright and Beautiful
*As the bridegroom to his chosen
*Be Thou my vision
*Behold, the Tabernacle of God
*Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind
*Children's chorus, opt.
*A Choral Amen
*A Choral Fanfare
*Christ the Lord is risen again
*A Clare Benediction
*Distant Land
*The Falcon
*Fancies (part of "Eight Childhood Lyrics")
*Feel the Spirit
*Go forth into the world in peace
*God be in my head
*Gregorian Chant
*How Firm A Foundation
*Heavenly Aeroplane
*Hymn to the Creator of Light
*I believe in springtime
*I will lift up mine eyes
*I will sing with the spirit
*I will worship the Lord
*I Wonder as I Wander
*Let us go in peace
*Look at the World
*The Lord bless you and keep you
*The Lord is my light and my salvation
*The Lord is my Shepherd: SATB & organ
*Loving shepherd of thy sheep
*Mass of the Children
*Now thank we all our God
*O be joyful in the Lord
*O clap your hands
*Open Thou Mine Eyes
*The Peace of God
*Pie Jesu
*Praise the Lord, O my soul
*Praise ye the Lord
*A Prayer of Saint Patrick
*Te Deum
*Thanksgiving Prayer
*The Peace of God
*Thy Perfect love
*Toccata in 7
*Suite Antique
*When Icicles Hang
*When the saints go marching in
*Wings of the Morning

External links

* [ Rutter at the Oxford University Press website]
* [ Collegium Records] including a
* [ biography]
* [ UGA Men's Glee Club perform John Rutter's "For the Beauty of the Earth"]
* [ Downing Street petition]

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