When the great church of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, planned a service of thanksgiving in October 1965 to mark the completion of major restoration work, Howells was commissioned to write a Te Deum
. This setting makes no concessions at all to amateur voices, and the choir that gave the first performance with its organist, Garth Benson, was augmented by singers from Bristol Cathedral. The writing is chromatic, harmonically complex and on a big scale, the tone for the whole work set by its arresting and dramatic opening. The tessitura is extremely wide for all the voice parts. The organ part, too, demands an exceptional player, no doubt written with Benson in mind.
from notes by Paul Andrews © 2011