First published in 1961, the Carols for Choirs series has for many singers become synonymous with the Christmas season, used in festive concerts and services across the world. While many things have changed since that first edition, one thing has remained constant: the illustrated angel on the cover. We did some investigating in the archives recently to uncover the history of the Carols for Choirs angel, looking at how it came about and how it has evolved over the past 60 years.
1961: The original angel
A note from Alan Frank (then Head of Music at OUP) dated 27 January 1961 stated that Alfred Daniels would be paid 15 guineas for cover design. There is no information about the brief he was given, so we cannot be sure whether he was instructed specifically to design an angel, or simply tasked with creating a suitable cover, and landed on the image of an angel holding a book as something appropriately festive and musical! However it came about, the result was this original Carols for Choirs angel , pictured here in the first edition from 24 August 1961, as a paperback.