The Wells Service
began with a commission from Wells Cathedral for settings of the so-called alternative canticles for Anglican Evensong, Cantate Domino
and Deus misereatur
, Psalms 98 and 67 respectively. Familiar images of the psalmist’s harp influenced Bingham’s extensive use of spread chords and arpeggios in the organ part to Cantate Domino
(‘O sing unto the Lord a new song’). The strategy creates multi-layered tonal and textural combinations of voices and instrument, carefully developed to reflect subtle shifts in the canticle’s text: extrovert jubilation here gives way to deep contemplation of God’s equanimity and mercy elsewhere. Deus misereatur
(‘God be merciful unto us, and bless us’) grows out of anxiety, present in the composition’s harmonic ambiguity and breathless rhythmic insistence. The psalmist’s universal plea for mercy and enlightenment opens out into a confident song of praise, herald of something altogether more penitent and mysterious at ‘God shall bless us’ and for the doxology ‘Glory be to the Father’. The Wells Service
was first performed by Wells Cathedral Choir, Jonathan Vaughn and Matthew Owens during Choral Evensong at Wells Cathedral on 13 June 2010.
from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013