Richard Lloyd (b1933) was a chorister at Lichfield Cathedral and later became organist of Hereford Cathedral before moving to succeed Conrad Eden at Durham Cathedral. Drop down ye heavens
is a setting of the Advent Prose, sometimes known as Rorate, caeli
. The piece was designed to be used at the atmospheric candle-lit Advent Carol Service held in Durham’s mighty cathedral; it makes use of the spaciousness of that building and its acoustic. It is, therefore, almost perfectly suited for performance in the vast spaces of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Lloyd retains the flexibility of rhythm of the original plainsong, uses a repeated refrain (sung remotely by a soloist in a high gallery), but presents simple yet dramatic new harmonies. The sense of suspense in the music is achieved by the high voices from afar and the hint of a whole-tone scale.
from notes by William McVicker © 1997