Taking words from Robert Bridges’ own Yattendon Hymnal
of 1930, Thee will I love
was Howells’ response to a commission for a work to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the massacre of the monks of the Abbey of Medehamstede in 870ad. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the Abbey became Peterborough Cathedral, and this motet was composed for a Solemn Requiem, sung in the Cathedral on 9 November 1970 by the Cathedral Choir under its director, Stanley Vann. The setting makes much use of the opening four-note quaver motif in various guises, and with an extraordinary variety of harmonic colouring, expressing much of the devotional quality of the words, but also alluding perhaps in harmonic ambiguity and dissonance, to the anguish of the event being commemorated.
from notes by Paul Andrews © 2011