HEAR MY PRAYER - Hymns and Anthems (Karina Gauvin/ Matthew Larkin/ Noel Edison/ St. John's Choir/ Elora) (Naxos: 8.557493)
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HEAR MY PRAYER
Hymns and Anthems
While hymns of one kind or another, songs of praise, havefor centuries had their place in Christian worship, whether as part of theliturgy or in a more popular form, both hymn and anthem took on a newcomplexion with the religious changes of the sixteenth century. In England these changes were reflected in the The Booke of the Common Prayer
of 1549,issued in the early reign of Edward VI, who had been strongly influenced by hisProtestant tutors and guardians. As in the Catholic Counter-Reformation,attempts were made to simplify church music, for the better understanding ofthe people, but music always retained some place in the worship of what was nowthe Church of England, amid all the confusing changes that were taking place.
The brief reign of Queen Mary, with a return of allegiance to Rome, did much tosave church music that might otherwise have suffered under an increasinglyCalvinistic government, and on the death of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, the Protestantdaughter of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, brought about something of acompromise, which, while impossible for Catholics and unwelcome to Puritans,nevertheless preserved a degree of ceremony, with music to match. The periodsaw the development of the English anthem, the full anthem and the verse anthem,with its solo element. With a break of fifteen years during the Civil War andthe Commonwealth period, choral music of the Anglican custom has continued in 'quiresand places where they sing'. The present recording includes anthems largelyfrom the Anglican tradition, with a smaller number of works from the traditionalCatholic liturgy and music associated with it.
Charles Villiers Stanford was born in Dublin in 1852 andheld a position of importance in the British musical establishment, from histime as an undergraduate at Cambridge, where he served as organist at Trinity College. He studied in Leipzig under Reinecke and in Berlin and was subsequentlyprofessor of music at Cambridge and professor of composition at the newly establishedRoyal College of Music. He made early contributions to the music of theAnglican liturgy in settings for the morning and evening services that remain acontinuing part of cathedral repertoire. His 'Justorum animae'
(The soulsof the righteous) sets a Latin text from The Book of Wisdom
. It is thefirst of a set of three motets, published in 1905.
After apprenticeship to the organist of Gloucester Cathedral,Herbert Howells became a pupil of Stanford at the Royal College in London, where he later taught, becoming professor of music at London University in 1950.
He wrote music for the Catholic and Anglican liturgies, works that often arosefrom friendship with those concerned with the various establishments for whichthey were written. His 1945 Magnificat
, a setting, together with the Nuncdimittis
, of canticles for the evening service was composed for King'sCollege, Cambridge, where his friend Boris Ord was for many years responsiblefor the music.
Henry Purcell was fortunate to have been born on the eve ofthe restoration of the Chapel Royal under Charles II. Before the Civil War theChapel Royal had occupied an important position in English church music and wasto continue to do so in the years after 1660. Purcell was a chorister in theChapel as a boy and served as composer in ordinary to the King's violins, andorganist at Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, enjoying royal favour inthe succeeding reigns, until his early death in 1695. His setting of PsalmLXIII, 'O God, thou art my God', a full anthem, has been dated to c.1680-1682.
The five-voice setting of the litany prayer 'Remember not, Lord, our offences' comesfrom the same period.
Mendelssohn made a number of contributions to Protestantmusic in Germany and his larger scale choral compositions include the twooratorios, St Paul
, works strongly influencedby Handelian tradition. His connection with England brought church compositionsfor Anglican use. The hymn 'Hear my Prayer', for soloist, chorus and organ,written in 1844, has long been established as a popular element in an ambitiouschorister's repertoire. The English words are by William Bartholomew, and thework is also known in a German version.
The 'Cantique de Jean Racine' was set by Gabriel Faure firstfor chorus and organ, and, like the later Requiem
, was subsequentlyreworked in various ways. In 1865 it won the composer first prize incomposition at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he had spent eleven years as a student,latterly under the tuition of his lifelong friend Camille Saint-Sa?½ns. The textis taken from the canticles written by Racine at the command of Louis XIV and Madamede Maintenon for the benefit of the pupils of the latter's female educationalestablishment at Saint-Cyr. Faure's setting marks the climax of his career atthe Ecole Niedermeyer, which he left to become organist at St Sauveur at Rennes, where it was first performed, with revised accompaniment, the following year.
Maurice Durufle belongs to that group of French Catholiccomposers whose career was closely associated with the organ. Durufle was apupil of Charles Tournemire, Louis Vierne and then Eug?¿ne Gigout, and from 1930served as organist at the Paris church of St Etienne du Mont. His FourMotets on Gregorian Themes
for unaccompanied choir date from 1960. The firstof these, 'Ubi caritas et amor', from the liturgy for Maundy Thursday, makesuse of the appropriate Gregorian melody.
Of Jewish parentage, Gerald Finzi identified closely withthe form of English musical nationalism that flourished under Vaughan Williamsand Gustav Holst, and was, in his vocal writing, always sensitive to the wordsof poems he set. Agnostic himself, he nevertheless made a contribution toAnglican repertoire in a Magnificat
and in appropriate poetic settings,including his setting of the Puritan Edward Taylor's 'God is gone up', writtenin 1951 and first heard at the important London St Cecilia's Day morningcelebrations at St Sepulchre's, Holborn Viaduct, with the choirs of St Paul'sand Canterbury Cathedrals, Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal.
A pupil of Stanford at the Royal College of Music, EdgarBainton made his early career in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1933 he was appointeddirector of the New South Wales State Conservatorium in Sydney. He won successwith a variety of compositions, and exercised a strong influence on thedevelopment of music in Australia. He belonged by training and inclination tohis own generation of English composers, sharing in the pastoral tradition withwhich it was associated until more astringent continental influences madethemselves felt. His setting of 'And I saw a new Heaven' remains one of his bestknown compositions, a standard element of Anglican choral repertoire.
Mozart and his father Leopold were employed by the Archbishopsof Salzburg, the latter holding for many years the position ofVice-Kapellmeister. Mozart himself was closely involved with the music of thearchiepiscopal court and chapel, as a violinist, composer and, finally, organist,his last appointment in Salzburg before he found freedom in Vienna. He wrote aquantity of church music, regretting the enforced liturgical reforms of his finalpatron in Salzburg. His first setting of a Kyrie
dates from 1766, whenhe was ten, and his last unfinished work in Vienna was a setting of the Requiem
His well-known setting of Psalm CXVI, 'Laudate Dominum omnes gentes', formspart of his Vesperae solennes de Confessore
, written in Salzburg in 1780. It is scored for a soprano soloist, who sings the Psalm text, followed bya four-part setting of the Gloria
The Italian composer Antonio