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Harris was a pupil of Sir Walter Parratt, Charles Wood and Sir Walford Davies at the Royal College of Music, holding posts at New College and Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford and at the Royal College of Music before moving to St George’s Chapel, Windsor, in 1933. Harris could hardly be described as a prolific composer, but his music is well planned and carefully executed. Kenneth Long describes his anthems—and, in particular, Strengthen ye the weak hands—as ‘some of the last roses of a very long summer’, and correctly notes that they are in the same vein, and have similar formularies and outlook to examples by Stanford.
This anthem opens with a recitative for tenor. Particularly noticeable is Harris’s attention to the detail of word-setting—take for example the music and rhythms at ‘then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing’. From this point the organ has an important part—a characteristic of Harris’s work also demonstrated in O what their joy. The music was written in Canterbury Cathedral and first sung there at the opening service commemorating the Science and Art of Healing at the Canterbury Festival, 25 June 1949, and is generally used on St Luke’s Day.
from notes by William McVicker © 1996
|The English Anthem, Vol. 6|
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