The anthems by John Fawcett represent the moment when psalmody began to merge with, and be replaced by, the Victorian choral society movement. Fawcett was originally a Kendal shoemaker, and was self-taught as a musician. His early works belong to the North of England psalmody tradition, but he gradually became more assured and ambitious as, presumably, he came into contact with the choral works of Handel, Haydn and perhaps even Mozart. Spirit, leave thine house of clay!
was probably written for a public funeral and begins with choruses that recall the serene simplicity of Mozart’s Ave verum corpus
. However, the last chorus, with its Hallelujahs, returns to more familiar Handelian territory. The text is by the Sheffield journalist James Montgomery, the author of ‘Angels from the realms of glory’.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1998