THE Chapter House Choir returned to their point of origin, more than 50 years after their inaugural Christmas carol concert in the same building. The candlelit Chapter House was acoustically and atmospherically perfect for the occasion.

Guest conductor was Andrew Carter, the choir’s founding director. They entered in procession, boldly singing Carter’s forthright arrangement of Personent Hodie. Variation of vocal colour was abundant: intimate in Shaw’s Lute-book Lullaby; deftly playful in Walford-Davies’s The Holly And The Ivy; sinuous and serene in Howells’s A Spotless Rose; rich and warm for Howells’s Sing Lullaby.

Charles Wood’s arrangement of Ding Dong, Merrily On High was an object lesson, Carter—here as elsewhere—artfully conjuring many subtle details from the responsive singers, while at the same time conveying an unexpected narrative arc.

Organist John Scott Whiteley’s solo interludes on the Minster’s little four-stop chamber organ were just right—a group of three Baroque pieces, then Francis Jackson’s pastoral Sarabande and Alan Spedding’s humorous and gently obsessive Carols from Recuerdos ("Reminiscences").

The Handbell Ringers performed magical, surprisingly delicate, festive carol arrangements, making the evening, if possible, even more Christmassy. Good King Wenceslas by Andrew Carter became an ingenious and clangorous amalgam of the undecorated tune with fragments of itself.

The programme ended with two showpieces: Francis Jackson’s distinctive Can I Not Syng But Hoy? and Carter’s characterful Spanish Carol. Carter’s deceptively simple yet ravishing arrangement of Stille Nacht was a delightful encore. It was a privilege to be there.