For lo, I raise up
, Op 145, Stanford’s most dramatic anthem, was composed in 1914, though it was left unpublished until 1939. When the strategic bombing of London began in January 1915, Stanford moved out to Windsor where it was safer and, according to E H Fellowes, he subsequently became a regular visitor to St George’s Chapel where his RCM colleague, Parratt, was organist and music director. (The manuscript of the anthem still resides in the Library of St George’s.) Horrified by the war and what he saw as Germany’s betrayal of its artistic heritage, Stanford attempted to articulate his hope for Britain’s future deliverance through the analogy of Habakkuk’s Old Testament prophecies. Set in F minor, the first part of this extended work is a turbulent affair, an indictment of the war-mongers who plundered and laid waste to the land. Yet, in the face of inexorable violence and destruction, Stanford mirrored Habakkuk’s vision of peace in a climactic statement of hope and deliverance (‘We shall not die’) in F major. Building on this declaration of spiritual confidence the momentum increases, animated by a sense of divine destiny (‘The vision is yet for the appointed time’) and an impassioned acclamation of faith (‘For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord’) which is tempered only by the gripping tranquillity of the hushed coda (‘But the Lord is in his holy temple’).
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2017