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David Vernier, June 2008

It’s important to note that for the most part these are not just straight-from-the-hymnal renditions, but rather are enhanced arrangements, many with brass ensemble and descants. The performances are correspondingly powerful and moving. My complaint is that nowhere in the notes are we told where these arrangements or descants come from—critical bits of information that church musicians and other serious devotees of this repertoire would appreciate.

Just a couple of examples: it would be nice to know that the opening hymn, All people that on earth do dwell, is the arrangement Vaughan Williams contributed to Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation (in Roy Douglas’ brass/organ version), or that the unnamed tune for The Lord’s my shepherd is in fact Crimond, as opposed to Martyrdom or Dundee, or any number of other fitting alternatives. It’s hard to understand the reason for these omissions, but the singing and playing is first-rate just the same, so the listening experience is unfailingly rewarding, worthy of many repetitions—just the effect all good hymns should elicit. Strongly recommended.

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