Richard O Latham was a distinguished organ teacher at the Royal College of Music, a choir director of some repute and a very close friend and colleague of Howells. In the latter part of his life Howells turned to writing more for unaccompanied choir, and his sublime 1972 setting Come, my soul
, to words by the eighteenth-century hymn writer John Newton, was composed for and dedicated to Latham ‘in affection’. Newton’s words urge the ‘soul’ to prepare itself to meet Jesus; Howells lifts the soul with the impressionist harmonies of the motet’s opening invitation to approach the throne of God. This is a positive response to a supremely optimistic text, yet ends shrouded in mystery as the soul begs Christ to ‘Lead me to my journey’s end’. Perhaps Howells, already eighty years old, was thinking about his own journey’s end, but he still had another decade to live. Latham responded to the musical gift by writing that ‘in years to come I shall be remembered as the man for whom Herbert Howells wrote his loveliest motet’.
from notes by Paul Andrews © 2011