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Abide with me and other favourite hymns
All people that on earth do dwell* [04:18]
Dear Lord and Father of mankind [02:56]
King of glory, King of peace [02:15]
Ye watchers and ye holy ones* [03:40]
Let all mortal flesh keep silent [03:05]
Immortal, invisible, God only wise [02:29]
All my hope on God is founded [03:09]
The Lord's my shepherd [03:06]
Tell out, my soul* [02:38]
Christ is made the sure foundation [04:16]
Come down, O Love divine [03:10]
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation [02:56]
And did those feet in ancient time (Jerusalem)* [02:33]
Abide with me [03:44]
Alleluya, sing to Jesus! [04:32]
Ye holy angels bright* [02:29]
My song is love unknown [03:04]
Holy, holy, holy! [03:03]
Glorious things of thee are spoken [03:33]
O for a thousand tongues to sing [02:42]
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven* [02:45]
O praise ye the Lord* [02:43]
The Choir of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle/Timothy Byram-Wigfield
Marlow Brass Ensemble (*)
Roger Judd, organ
rec. April 2004, Church of the Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, UK. DDD
NAXOS 8.557578 [69:06]

This disc is a kind of extended edition of 'Songs of Praise', the long-standing programme with religious music, broadcast by BBC Television on late Sunday afternoons. As the title says, these hymns are amongst the most popular, and they are frequently sung in the said programme.
Their popularity also means they are recorded regularly. Most people in Britain who are interested in religious music will already own one or more discs with these hymns. I wonder how many would want to add another recording of the same hymns to their collection.
Perhaps audiences outside Britain will be more interested in this release. After all, most of them are probably not that familiar with hymns like these, although some who have grown up in Protestant circles may recognize some melodies which have their roots in Lutheran Germany. These include 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty', whose melody is known with the text 'Lobe den Herren, den mächtigen König der Ehren'. And some hymns have found their way into hymn books in other European countries. But there are also hymns which are hardly ever sung or even known outside Britain. A good example is 'And did those feet in ancient time', with its text "I will not cease from mental fight, nor shall my sword sleep in my hand, till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land."
This disc gives a fairly good idea of which hymns are most popular in Britain, but the performance is perhaps a little out of step with everyday practice. Choirs of boys and men - like the Choir of St George's Chapel - are fortunately still quite common in Britain - and should be treasured - but certainly not as they used to be. A number of churches and cathedrals have admitted girls into the choir, and they are either singing with the boys or in alternation with them. And hymns like these are normally sung with organ only, not with additional brass instruments as on this disc.
Some people may enjoy the addition of brass, and the Marlowe Brass Ensemble do play well, but I don't like it very much, and would by far prefer just organ accompaniment. I find the brass often rather obtrusive. Sometimes they almost overpower the choir, as in some verses of 'All people that on earth do dwell'. This is also due to the fact that the choir lacks a very strong and powerful sound. I would like a more robust sound, especially from the trebles. I also noticed a slight wobble in some sections of the choir, in particular the altos and tenors, which I find rather unpleasant.
For those who are not familiar with hymns as they are sung in British churches and cathedrals I recommend this disc. It is a way to get to know this repertoire at a low price. Those who want to buy a top class performance should look elsewhere. I would like some British choir or vocal group to explore the collections of hymns which were published in the 17th and 18th centuries, and which are referred to in Keith Anderson’s notes.
Johan van Veen

see also review by Göran Forsling


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