'New Christmas Praise' vs 'Christmas Collection' - A comparison of carol books


A few years ago the Sally Army released another set of carol books under the name "Christmas Collection" [CC]. Considering many bands out there still use the "New Christmas Praise" [NCP] red books, I wondered how these two books compare.

I went through each of the versions for my part (Eb Bass/Part IV) and reviewed if the books were compatible or if the arrangements had changed. I collated my findings into the attached Excel file [in PDF format], which some of you may find interesting.

Basically, there are those carols in CC that are pretty much the same as NCP (with the odd octave changed and maybe extra- or fewer- quavers); those where the carol is the same but the 'bracket' introduction bars have been changed; a couple that have been re-written for clarity; a handful that are almost the same except a bar here-or-there; and also a large number that are no longer compatible (transposed, re-arranged, etc).

This is by no means a complete assessment, but just a way for me to recommend that a band should not try to use these books in tandem - it is not easy to mix and match and would severely limit the carols the band could play.

It is also worth noting that the "Christmas Collection" books are printed on White paper, so are more inclined to create glare when used under headtorch-light when busking, compares to the Yellow-ish colour of NCP.


  • Carol Book Comparison.pdf
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Jack E

Well-Known Member
@m.f.cooper - Crumbs, Matt - that sounds like a mammoth task! But I think it could prove very helpful to a lot of bands which will (I hope!) be able to play carols this Christmas.

With best regards,


Active Member
IMHO, neither of the newer books has the quality of arrangements of the carols to that of the old green SA carol book, yes you have much more in the way of Christmas tunes, but the key choices and arrangements are lacking


Active Member
there are changes in the bass line of Silent Night to note as well and the retiming of Infant Holy was a shame (it changed form an interesting Mazurka to a rather banal waltz) and some of the key changes are inexplicable
I, too, am slightly nostalgic for the green carol book, the carols were ordered by significance. Alphabetical listing means that a lot of popular and important carols don't get played as much as they should
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New Member
As a musician in a Salvation Army band, I've played from all three of the carol books and have to say that, despite the smaller choice of carols, I prefer the old green carol books. Sadly, I don't think these are still in print, and any existing copies are very possibly in bad condition due to use. The two red ones each have their good and bad points. The thing that annoyed me most for the newer red book is that the euphonium part for 'Silent Night' has, in part been given to the baritone, which gives the baritone some interest from the long boring notes it used to have in both the older red and the old green, but doesn't sound as nice as when the euphonium plays it. I think some of the keys are different in the newer red too (flats to sharps), which, when you've played for long enough (30 yrs+) can throw you at first. The Salvation Army have also switched to new tune books for songs/hymns in recent years and these too have different key changes. Apparently this is to 'lift' the tone of the music for singing too. Make it seem brighter.

Jack E

Well-Known Member
@Rachelgm - thank you for the back ground info on why at least some of the changes have been made, Rachel. I must admit that the need to make the note range accessible to both choirs and congregations had escaped me - though, after reading an assessment of the national anthem of the US, I should have thought of that.

In an article I read, the American writer compared the US and British national anthems, and explained why when 'The Star-Spangled Banner' is sung at American sports events, it isn't sung by the crowd, but by a professional singer. The reason is that the melody was originally written for a music society in London, and was deliberately written to be as hard to sing as possible - in fact, the society only expected it to be sung as a showcase number by top-notch singers!
If you look at the range of notes in 'The Star-Spangled Banner', very few people - other than very talented singers - can cover that range without having to hop up or down an octave on their way through; in concert C Major, it spans from Middle C to G above the stave - an octave and a half.
In contrast, almost anyone with a little singing ability can cover the range of 'God Save the Queen' without difficulty. In C Major (concert pitch), starting from Middle C (below the stave), the lowest note is B below below the stave, and the highest is A on the second space - less than one octave.

With best regards,

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