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Track(s) taken from CDA67909

The Shepherd

2007; composed to mark the 50th anniversary of the re-building of Bromley Parish Church
author of text
'How sweet is the shepherd's sweet lot' from Song of Innocence and Experience
author of text
'Praise God, from whom all blessings flow'

Wells Cathedral Choir, Matthew Owens (conductor), Jonathan Vaughn (organ)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: June 2012
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Summerly
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: August 2013
Total duration: 3 minutes 4 seconds

Cover artwork: Cornfield by Moonlight (1830) by Samuel Palmer (1805-1881)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'This excellent disc from Wells Cathedral Choir looks back over 15 years of Bingham's choral works … there's a frankness to the Wells choral sound that suits music that has nothing precious or twee about it. It creates an underlying muscularity, even in the glowing cluster-chords of Cantate Domino and foregrounds the texts that Bingham sets with Britten-like care … this collection is the most representative yet of the composer's functional, liturgical works' (Gramophone)

'The setting of Cantate Domino memorably commingles an anxious, questing quality with glimpses of certitude and placidity, a balance sensitively struck in this assured Wells Cathedral Choir performance … Our faith is a light is a luminescent setting highlighting the bright, gleaming quality of tone the Wells top line is currently producing. The Hyperion recording is atmospheric and expertly balanced. Recommended' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Choral music is a sphere that welcomes the new. The Anglican (mainly) church is a leading source of new commissions for countless composers, among them Judith Bingham (b1952), who stands out not least because she spent her early career as a professional singer and knows the idiom. She favours rich, multilayered radiance, as heard in the two Wells service canticles—written for the excellent choir who perform here. Jonathan Vaughn provides spirited organ accompaniment and interludes. The lullaby setting of God be in my head, the abundant interpretation of Gerard Manley Hopkins's Harvest and the unexpectedness of the Bromley Missa brevis, written for an enlightened south London parish church, all play to Bingham's creative strengths' (The Observer)
The Shepherd, like the Sanctus of Bingham’s Bromley Missa brevis, addresses God with humility, seeking the soul’s liberation (and perhaps the liberation of all souls) from self-repression and fear. The visionary words of William Blake, from his Songs of Innocence and Experience, tell of the good shepherd attending watchfully to his wayward flock, a Christian metaphor for the fully engaged God, polar opposite of James Joyce’s indifferent creator spirit, ‘refined out of existence … paring his fingernails’. Bingham reinforces her engagement with Blake’s text by incorporating material from the hymn tune ‘Awake, my soul’, especially fragments of the bell-like descending scale of its second phrase. She was drawn to the hymn by its words, written by Thomas Ken (Bishop of Bath and Wells) in the 1670s, which speak of dedication to the Christian path and liberation from ‘dull sloth’. The anthem quotes the hymn’s familiar doxology, ‘Praise God, from whom all blessings flow’, fully stated towards the composition’s close.

from notes by Andrew Stewart © 2013

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