About this Recording
8.557493 - HEAR MY PRAYER - Hymns and Anthems
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HEAR MY PRAYER
Hymns and Anthems

While hymns of one kind or another, songs of praise, have for centuries had their place in Christian worship, whether as part of the liturgy or in a more popular form, both hymn and anthem took on a new complexion 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 his Protestant tutors and guardians. As in the Catholic Counter-Reformation, attempts were made to simplify church music, for the better understanding of the people, but music always retained some place in the worship of what was now the 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 to save church music that might otherwise have suffered under an increasingly Calvinistic government, and on the death of Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, the Protestant daughter of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, brought about something of a compromise, which, while impossible for Catholics and unwelcome to Puritans, nevertheless preserved a degree of ceremony, with music to match. The period saw 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 and the Commonwealth period, choral music of the Anglican custom has continued in 'quires and places where they sing'. The present recording includes anthems largely from the Anglican tradition, with a smaller number of works from the traditional Catholic liturgy and music associated with it.

Charles Villiers Stanford was born in Dublin in 1852 and held a position of importance in the British musical establishment, from his time as an undergraduate at Cambridge, where he served as organist at Trinity College. He studied in Leipzig under Reinecke and in Berlin and was subsequently professor of music at Cambridge and professor of composition at the newly established Royal College of Music. He made early contributions to the music of the Anglican liturgy in settings for the morning and evening services that remain a continuing part of cathedral repertoire. His 'Justorum animae' (The souls of the righteous) sets a Latin text from The Book of Wisdom. It is the first 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 arose from friendship with those concerned with the various establishments for which they were written. His 1945 Magnificat, a setting, together with the Nunc dimittis, of canticles for the evening service was composed for King's College, Cambridge, where his friend Boris Ord was for many years responsible for the music.

Henry Purcell was fortunate to have been born on the eve of the restoration of the Chapel Royal under Charles II. Before the Civil War the Chapel Royal had occupied an important position in English church music and was to continue to do so in the years after 1660. Purcell was a chorister in the Chapel as a boy and served as composer in ordinary to the King's violins, and organist at Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal, enjoying royal favour in the succeeding reigns, until his early death in 1695. His setting of Psalm LXIII, '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' comes from the same period.

Mendelssohn made a number of contributions to Protestant music in Germany and his larger scale choral compositions include the two oratorios, St Paul and Elijah, works strongly influenced by Handelian tradition. His connection with England brought church compositions for 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 ambitious chorister's repertoire. The English words are by William Bartholomew, and the work is also known in a German version.

The 'Cantique de Jean Racine' was set by Gabriel Fauré first for chorus and organ, and, like the later Requiem, was subsequently reworked in various ways. In 1865 it won the composer first prize in composition at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he had spent eleven years as a student, latterly under the tuition of his lifelong friend Camille Saint-Saëns. The text is taken from the canticles written by Racine at the command of Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon for the benefit of the pupils of the latter's female educational establishment at Saint-Cyr. Fauré's setting marks the climax of his career at the 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 Duruflé belongs to that group of French Catholic composers whose career was closely associated with the organ. Duruflé was a pupil of Charles Tournemire, Louis Vierne and then Eugène Gigout, and from 1930 served as organist at the Paris church of St Etienne du Mont. His Four Motets on Gregorian Themes for unaccompanied choir date from 1960. The first of these, 'Ubi caritas et amor', from the liturgy for Maundy Thursday, makes use of the appropriate Gregorian melody.

Of Jewish parentage, Gerald Finzi identified closely with the form of English musical nationalism that flourished under Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst, and was, in his vocal writing, always sensitive to the words of poems he set. Agnostic himself, he nevertheless made a contribution to Anglican repertoire in a Magnificat and in appropriate poetic settings, including his setting of the Puritan Edward Taylor's 'God is gone up', written in 1951 and first heard at the important London St Cecilia's Day morning celebrations at St Sepulchre's, Holborn Viaduct, with the choirs of St Paul's and Canterbury Cathedrals, Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal.

A pupil of Stanford at the Royal College of Music, Edgar Bainton made his early career in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1933 he was appointed director of the New South Wales State Conservatorium in Sydney. He won success with a variety of compositions, and exercised a strong influence on the development of music in Australia. He belonged by training and inclination to his own generation of English composers, sharing in the pastoral tradition with which it was associated until more astringent continental influences made themselves felt. His setting of 'And I saw a new Heaven' remains one of his best known compositions, a standard element of Anglican choral repertoire.

Mozart and his father Leopold were employed by the Archbishops of Salzburg, the latter holding for many years the position of Vice-Kapellmeister. Mozart himself was closely involved with the music of the archiepiscopal court and chapel, as a violinist, composer and, finally, organist, his last appointment in Salzburg before he found freedom in Vienna. He wrote a quantity of church music, regretting the enforced liturgical reforms of his final patron in Salzburg. His first setting of a Kyrie dates from 1766, when he 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', forms part of his Vesperae solennes de Confessore, written in Salzburg in 1780. It is scored for a soprano soloist, who sings the Psalm text, followed by a four-part setting of the Gloria.

The Italian composer Antonio Lotti studied with Legrenzi in Venice, where, for his entire career, he was employed at the basilica of St Mark, latterly as primo maestro di cappella. He was prolific as a composer of operas and secular cantatas, but at the same time made a very considerable addition to church repertoire. His eight-voice setting of the Crucifixus, words at the heart of the Credo, is characteristic, in its use of discord and its dramatic effect, of the period and place of its composition.

Director of Music at Fairlawn Heights United Church since 1982, Eleanor Daley was born in Parry Sound, Ontario, and studied at Queen's University in Kingston. She has been associated with a number of choirs and choral groups, both as a composer and as a choral conductor. Her setting of Mary Elizabeth Frye's poem 'In Remembrance' forms part of her Requiem, a work for which she assembled a number of varied texts.

Stephen Chatman, a faculty member of the composition department at the University of British Columbia for many years, and since 1987 professor there, is among the most successful Canadian composers. Born in 1950, he studied at Oberlin Conservatory and at the University of Michigan and writes in an eclectic musical language that he has made his own. His 'Remember' is a setting of a poem by Christina Rossetti.

The arrangement of Elgar's 'Nimrod' variation, a tribute to his friend and adviser August Johannes Jaeger, one of those portrayed in the so-called Enigma Variations, has been transformed into a solemn choral memorial tribute, which has found apt occasional use in services of remembrance. Equally familiar must now be César Franck's Panis angelicus, originally for tenor, organ, harp, cello and double bass and written in 1872. It was later added to his Mass for three voices, and has been variously arranged. The text is part of a Corpus Christi hymn by St Thomas Aquinas.

Keith Anderson


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