Hundreds Of Voices Join Broomdasher And Coracle In Turning Folk Songs Into Hymns For Vaughan Williams Birthday

Hundreds of singers across the country are set to join Broomdasher and Coracle in a rousing concert tour of Cathedrals, when they’ll turn folk songs into hymns to celebrate Ralph Vaughan Williams’ 150th birthday.

From Pub to Pulpit is the only official RVW150 touring event marking the 150th Birthday of one of the nation’s favourite composers. The first Cathedral concert is at Chester on Saturday 17 September and the last at Gloucester in July 2023.

The 20-date tour has been picked as a Highlight of the RVW150 Festival Year by The Times; The Guardian; Gramophone and The Living Tradition Folk magazines.

It features acapella folk group Broomdasher, instrumental trio Coracle – led by Paul Hutchinson of the legendary Belshazzar’s Feast– and the organists and choirs, community choirs and concert audiences at each Cathedral and Minster.

Vaughan Williams was a well-known collector of folk songs and he borrowed folk song tunes he collected from labourers around the country for the tunes of some of the best hymns in the 1906 English Hymnal he edited.

In the final part of the concert, Broomdasher and Coracle take the audience on a musical journey, starting with the folk song, going through dance variations and climaxing with everyone raising the roof with full-blooded renditions of the hymns.

They include “To Be a Pilgrim”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” which will be musically transformed from the folk songs “Our Captain Calls”, “The Ploughboy’s Dream” and “The Murder of Maria Marten.

“We’re been working closely with each Cathedral Director of Music and some have told us that with voluntary choirs and community groups joining us there will be more than one hundred voices leading the rest of the audience in the singing,” said Project Director John Palmer.

The other sections of the concerts feature individual performances by the host organist and choir; Broomdasher and Coracle.

The tour goes from Exeter to Carlisle and Brecon to Hull, ending at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester in 2023. Full details – plus the free 32-page tour programme – are available at under the From Pub to Pulpit button.

Hugh Cobbe of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust said: “This extremely imaginative and unique contribution to the RVW 150 celebrations crosses the boundaries between the different genres of Vaughan Williams’ music in a way that no other event will”.