Hyperion Records

Gloucester Service
1946; for the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity Gloucester
author of text
Magnificat: Luke 1: 46-55; Nunc dimittis: Luke 2: 29-32

'Howells: Requiem & other choral works' (CDA67914)
Howells: Requiem & other choral works
'My spirit hath rejoiced' (CDH55402)
My spirit hath rejoiced
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55402  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Canticle 1: Magnificat  My soul doth magnify the Lord
Canticle 2: Nunc dimittis  Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace

Gloucester Service
The Gloucester Service is an early fruit of the wonderful and rather extraordinary outpouring of music for the Anglican cathedral tradition with which Howells revived his flagging career as a composer after the Second World War. Over three decades Howells composed some twenty settings of the evensong canticles. The set for Gloucester Cathedral was one of the first, written as his mother lay dying in his home town of Lydney in 1946. His diary entry for 6 January reads: ‘A lovely day with Mother. F# Magn. and N. Dim. finished while talking to her.’ She died three weeks later. Although the dedication is to Gloucester Cathedral, it was not composed to fulfil a commission, but in the wake of the success of the Collegium Regale set, written for King’s College, Cambridge in 1945. In 1950, Eric Milner-White, the visionary former dean of King’s who had encouraged Howells to compose for the church, wrote of having heard the Gloucester canticles twice in ten days at York Minster: ‘The Nunc Dimittis left me in inward tears for the rest of the day; it is true to say that no piece of music has ever moved me in the same way or so much. At that first hearing, the Magnificat interested rather than moved me—though the Gloria I think tuned my spirit for the Nunc Dimittis. On the second hearing the Magnificat produced the same effect upon me as the N[unc] D[imittis] at the first; and the N. D. even increased its power. We, not I only, found it overwhelming. […] I personally feel that you have opened a new chapter in church music. [It is] of spiritual moment rather than liturgical. It is so much more than music making; it is experiencing deep things in the only medium that can do it.’

from notes by Paul Andrews © 2012

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