We had a little sprinking of Christmas yesterday during the Parliament Choir online rehearsal, running through some carols and arrangements in the hope and expectation that we will get the opportunity to perform them next month. Admittedly, all of those carols and arrangements were by yours truly, but that was more by accident than design, and certainly not a portent of an all-O’Neill Christmas, perish the thought.

It did feel a little like visiting some old friends, though, Sweet Was The Song being now so much a part of a parliamentary choral Christmas that it feels a little like popping on a festive jumper. It also always reminds me happily of my second hamster in some kind of bizarre Proustian flashback, as I sketched out the piece during her evening runs in what was my first house.

That all seems – indeed it is – a long time ago, almost a lifetime ago, and things were very different then. My arrangement of We Three Kings is slightly more recent, less than a decade old, but is also holding up pretty well, and there are also some neat compositional touches in there which make me smile on the inside and sometimes the outside when I see them.

We also ran through the Westminster Wassail, which has all the hallmarks of a last-minute scribble, not so much in the quality of the writing as in the demands it makes of its singers, most of whom spend a large part of the piece alternating between two notes. Clearly this was something that, at its first performance, was not optimistic of getting a great deal of rehearsal time.

Even after several years I am still pretty happy with all three of these pieces, so fingers are staying crossed that we get out of this lockdown intact and with the R number low enough to be able to indulge in a little socially-distanced carolling. We could probably all do with a little cheering up, after all.