A Hymn for St Cecilia
, commissioned by the Livery Club of the Worshipful Company of Musicians to mark Howells’s Mastership of the Company in 1959–60, sets a poem in praise of the Patron Saint of music by Ursula Vaughan Williams as a three-verse hymn. The wonderful dancing-on-tiptoe nature of this piece takes its cue from the syncopated first vocal entry and each phrase finds increasingly high notes as the verse goes on. It is a classic ‘cumulative’ tune which carries the singer along on a tide of increasing emotional energy and leaves an impression of being a piece much bigger than its constituent parts.
from notes by Paul Spicer © 2005