Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

The Complete New English Hymnal: Vol. 12
Judge eternal, throned in splendour (Hymn 490) [1’54]
Wds. Scott Holland. Tune: Rhuddlan (Welsh trad.) (1749)
O come, O come, Emmanuel (Hymn 11) [5’24]
Wds. 9th. Cent. (trans. J.M.Neale) Tune: French missal melody ed. Arnold (1933)
Hark! the herald angels sing (Hymn 26) [4’01]
Wds. Chas. Wesley. Tune: Mendelssohn, arr. W.H.Cummings
The heavenly Word proceeding forth (Hymn 269) [3’19]
Wds. 10th. Century Advent hymn, trans. J.M.Neale. Tune: Verbum Supernum (trad)
The great God of Heaven (Hymn 37) [3’59]
Wds Henry Bramley. Tune: A Virgin unspotted (trad. harm. Martin Shaw)
Come, ye faithful, raise the anthem (Hymn 351) [3’12]
Wds. Job Hupton. Tune: Neander (1680)
Brightest and best (Hymn 49) [2’52]
Wds. Bishop Heber. Tune: Wessex (Alwyn Surplice)
Jerusalem, thou city blest (Hymn 228) [2’30]
Wds. editors. Tune Newbury (arr. Vaughan Williams).
Songs of thankfulness and praise (Hymn 56) [3’52]
Wds. Christopher Wordsworth. Tune: St. Edmund (Chas. Steggall) (1849)
Jesu, lord of life and glory (Hymn 68) [3’33]
Wds. John Cummins. Tune: St. Raphael (E.J.Hopkins) (1867)
Love’s redeeming work is done (Hymn 113) [2’06]
Wds. Chas. Wesley. Tune: Savannah (Moravian M/S)
Christ the Lord is risen again! (Hymn 105) [3’06]
Wds. Lyra Germanica (trans. Catherine Winkworth). Tune: St.Martin (arr. Vaughan Williams)
For all the Saints (Hymn 197) [5’24]
Wds. Bishop How. Tune: Sine Nomine (R. Vaughan Williams)
O word of God above (Hymn 211) [2’50]
Wds. Chas. Guiet. Tune: St. Edmund (?Edmund Gilding) (1762)
Immortal love for ever full (Hymn 378) [3’51]
Wds. John Whittier. Tune: Bishopthorpe (Jeremiah Clarke)
Thy Hand, O God has guided (Hymn 485) [4’17]
Wds. Edward Plumptre. Tune: Thornbury (Basil Harwood) (1898)
With Christ we share a mystic grave (Hymn 317) [2’11]
Wds. ?J.M.Neale. Tune: St. Stephen’s Tune (William Jones) (1789)
Thee we adore, O hidden Saviour, thee (Hymn 308) [2’35]
Wds. St. Thomas Aquinas. Tune Adoro te (Plainsong) (1697)
Thou to whom the sick and dying (Hymn 325) [3’04]
Wds. Godfrey Thring. Tune: Albert (Heinrich Albert) (1642)
Beyond all mortal praise (Hymn 340) [2’41]
Wds. Timothy Dudley-Smith. Tune: Marlborough Gate (Wayne Marshall)
Jesu, good above all other (Hymn 387) [2’34]
Wds. Percy Dearmer after J.M.Neale. Tune: Quem pastores (arr. R. Vaughan Williams)
We have a gospel to proclaim (Hymn 486) [3’34]
Wds. Edward Burns. Tune: Fulda (William Gardiner)(1815)
The Choir of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral/James Thomas.
Organ and Assistant Choirmaster Michael Bawtree
Recorded on 4-5 March 2002 in St.Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.
PRIORY PRCD712
[75’25"]



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Hymns came into the English church in the mid-1700s, predictably and enthusiastically promoted by John Wesley and the Methodist movement. Many of these remain as a legacy to this time, but also many fine contributions have been added in modern times by notable composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells. The Victorians also played their part, and although, in their prime, these were very often turgid offerings, nowadays with brisker speeds their invention has been more widely accepted. Stainer, for instance, despite "The Crucifixion" could always be relied on to write a most exhilarating tune.

The series by Priory devoted to the new edition of "The English Hymnal", the authoritative work in England’s cathedrals, is admirable if a little hard going when heard all at once. It is a massive undertaking and probably appeals most to those intimately concerned with the performance of these works. The various forces employed are obviously very different in character, technique and prowess. St. Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir ranks probably amongst the great middle average of the performances. They are neither excellent nor very bad; at times they are good, at others not quite up to scratch. Michael Bawtree on the organ is very good, and the basic ensemble singing under James Thomas is of a standard which would be accepted within most of England’s cathedrals. But that spark of inspiration and individuality which lifts a group out of the average eludes them. The choir have a good attack, they sing in tune, the pace is generally good, and in general the balance between choir and organ is acceptable. However, in most of my notes on the individual items, I have written "average". The biggest criticism I have is on diction; hymns have words which need to be heard and understood, otherwise no matter how fine the tune, the meaning of the hymn disappears. Unfortunately, so often in this collection the first verse comes over well, but the second and subsequent verses suffer from the "dropped consonant" fault. Thus "Lord" becomes "Lor’" and so on. The balance is nicely done, but as the choir is set in middle distance, as it should be, the problems with diction are more marked than if given a closer recording.

Against this, the recording is excellent, the balance good, and as I have said, the organ playing is exemplary. Speeds are comfortable for singers, yet do not drag. I could take issue with some of the descants, but this is very much a matter of preference. The one piece I found disturbing was that marvellous old war-horse by Basil Harwood, "Thy Hand, O God, has guided", which for my taste was much too fast - and I do not like hymns (or carols) dragging. The booklet gives all the words with a history of the hymns. I do find it sad that they could not find room for some description and history of the cathedral, which is surely relevant to a performance there?

If you have a connection or deep interest in congregational church music, this disc may appeal; in other words, it is directed very much at a specialised audience.

John Portwood



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