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Great Choral Anthems

Great Choral Anthems

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Music for Great Cathedrals

Ref: CDG1275

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‘In quires and places where they sing here followeth the anthem.’
These words from the Book of Common Prayer used in the Anglican Church since 1662 have led to a huge amount of musical creativity over the succeeding centuries. The words occur in the order of service for Evensong, which is still today a daily service in many cathedrals and churches throughout Great Britain. If the choir is singing the service there is nearly always an anthem, a setting to music of words relevant to the time of day or the period in the Church’s year. This album presents a selection of these works taken mainly from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, a time which saw a particular explosion in musical composition for the church.

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1 I Was Glad
Sir Charles Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918)
2 Hail Gladdening Light
Charles Wood (1866-1926)
3 Evening Hymn
Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950)
4 Holy is the True Light
Sir William H. Harris (1883-1973)
5 Justorum Animae
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
6 Blessed be the God and Father
Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
Soloist: Joanna Markbreiter
7 Like as the Hart Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Soloist: Laura Harrison
8 And I Saw a New Heaven
Edgar Bainton (1880-1956)
9 Caelos Ascendit Hodie
Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
10 Blessed City Sir Edward Bairstow (1874-1946)
Soloist: Catherine Shaw
11 O Thou the Central Orb Charles Wood
12 Greater Love John Ireland (1879-1962)
Soloists: Catherine Shaw & Laurens Macklon
13 Beati Quorum Via Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
14 Hear My Words, Ye People Sir Hubert H Parry
Soloists: Catherine Shaw & George Parris
The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Directed by David Skinner
Organ scholars: Anita Datta & Rachel Haworth

Cover image: Inside Wells Cathedral
C Dean Spearpoint/Alamy
P & C 2013 Classical Communications Ltd
Made in Great Britain

The Victorian and Edwardian ages were two of the most glorious in Anglican church music. In the middle of the 19th century the Oxford Movement initiated major change in forms and styles of worship. In smaller churches choirs began to move from their traditional place at the West End of the church towards the altar at the East End. Along the way they acquired their cassocks and surplices as worship became more aware of the value of ceremony and traditional appearances. As the choir moved towards the altar the organs often moved as well. They also grew in size, as new technology allowed them to. So the focus of the congregation was firmly towards the altar. These changes brought about a new awareness of the importance of ceremony and within that the importance of music. This allowed church composers to flourish in a way that had not been seen since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of the composers on this album were part of this glorious new tradition, although it all arrived a little late for Samuel Sebastian Wesley. His music stands out like a beacon in a dark place. When he worked in Hereford Cathedral, for example, his choir and musical resources were famously limited but he was still able to produce some remarkable music. ‘Blessed be the God and Father’ is one of his most loved anthems. With a full chorus at either end of the piece, Wesley’s central sections are for solo voice with accompaniment. Of all the composers heard here Sir Hubert Parry is perhaps the most famous. Our selection opens with ‘I Was Glad’ which has been sung at coronations and royal occasions since it was composed in 1902. His even larger scale work ‘Hear My Words, Ye People’ concludes with the famous hymn ‘O Praise Ye the Lord’. Charles Wood studied with both Parry and Stanford. In the 1890s he became the first Director of Music and Organist at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge. Like Wood, Stanford was an Irishman but his music stretched far beyond that of the church and his symphonies in particular are highly regarded today. Balfour Gardiner also wrote large-scale works although they are mostly lost. He had studied at Oxford. The ‘Evening Hymn’ is an extraordinary work. A dramatic introduction which builds up from a single note leads into the text of the Latin evening hymn ‘Te lucis ante terminum’. William H Harris was a professional organist in St David’s Cathedral at a very young age. He was also later organist at New College and Christchurch, Oxford before moving to St George’s Chapel Windsor. Herbert Howells taught composition at the Royal College of Music in London throughout his career where he was responsible for a whole new generation of British composers. He composed large amounts of organ and choral music which is much loved and often performed in the Anglican Church today. Edgar Bainton began his musical career in the Northeast of England. While visiting the Bayreuth Festival in Germany in 1914 he was arrested and imprisoned for the rest of the First World War. He composed a vast array of music and emigrated to Australia in 1930 where he continued to teach, compose and conduct. Sir Edward Bairstow was knighted in 1932 for services to music. He had been organist at York Minster since 1913 and he remained there until his death. He was noted for being a difficult character, but his music can touch the sublime. ‘Blessed City’ is a fine example of his almost ecstatic compositional style. John Ireland became famous as a composer at an early age. His chamber music and songs remain popular to this day and his church music is lyrical and poignant. ‘Greater Love’ is quite magnificent. It is often associated with Remembrance, but the underlying text is about one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith.
Directed by David Skinner
Anita Datta, Rachel Haworth
Sopranos: Emma Boulding, Sarah Hargrave,
Laura Harrison, Joanna Markbreiter, Catherine
Shaw, Bryony Watson, Lottie Bowden
Contraltos: Rosie Dilnot, Hetty Gullifer,
Giverny McAndry, Lorna Reader, Anna Souter,
Camilla Wehmeyer
Tenors: Ollie Clarke, Benedict Collins Rice,
Joey Howard, Will Searle
Basses: Joachim Cassel, Ben Chapple, Phil
Franklin, Duncan Hewitt, Matthew Innes,
Laurens Macklon, George Parris.
Sidney Sussex Choir regularly performs at
home and abroad with recent tours to the
USA, Spain, Dubai, Italy and Bavaria. Sidney
Choir records for Obsidian Records and
their Tomkins disc ‘These Distracted Times’,
was awarded Editor’s Choice and CD of the
Month in Gramophone Magazine; their latest
release of Weelkes has received critical acclaim.
The Choir also makes professional
recordings for specialist markets, including
museums, art galleries, and national libraries.
They perform a wide range of music from
late medieval repertoire right through to
newly commissioned works and often
collaborate with guest directors and groups,
most recently Eric Whitacre and Fretwork.
For more information, please visit

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