The Temple Church, London was founded by The Knights Templar and was consecrated in 1185. The church choir – The Temple Choir – became World famous in 1927 when, with Ernest Lough as soloist, they performed O For the Wings of a Dove. As can be seen on the cover of this recording, the choir named The Templars performed during the period that the Temple Church was being rebuilt after being badly damaged during the Second World War.
This Extended Play record (EP) is a collection of seven carols previously issued on other formats. For example 12 days of Christmas was first issued on an HMV 10” 78rpm record, number B9995 and on the other side was See Amid The Winter’s Snow and O Little Town of Bethlehem, which is not sung to the usual tune. Two other carols from this EP Away in a Manger and The First Nowell featured on an HMV 7″ 45rpm disc numbered 7P132, which was issued in 1953. The first EPs in this country were released in 1954. The likelihood is that this EP dates from the late 1950s, but features recordings made several years earlier.
We are familiar with carols being sung in harmony with treble or soprano voices to the fore, but these recordings feature the adult male voices of the choir, with just a verse of Away in a Manger sung by the boys of the choir. The organist and choirmaster is shown as G Thalben-Ball, who was a fine organist, arranger and composer.
George Thomas Thalben-Ball was born in Australia of Cornish parents on 18 June 1896. He lived most of his life in this country and studied organ and piano at the Royal College of Music. He played the solo part of Rachmaninov’s fiendishly difficult Third Piano Concerto aged just 19. He became organist and director of The Temple choir in 1923 and held the post for 60 years. One of his best known compositions The Elegy for Organ was played at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. He broadcast regularly and gave recitals at The Royal Albert Hall. He was Birmingham City and Birmingham University organist for thirty years. In 1948, he was elected President of The Royal College of Organists. He was awarded the CBE in 1967 and was knighted in 1982. He died in January 1987.