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Track(s) taken from CDP12101

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom – Alberta

First line:
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
NEH 392
author of text
1831; NEH 392

Wells Cathedral Choir, Malcolm Archer (conductor), Rupert Gough (organ)
Recording details: June 1999
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: November 1999
Total duration: 2 minutes 30 seconds


'The time spent listening to it has been delightful. Tone, enunciation, resourcefulness of arrangement and accompaniment, all are exemplary' (Gramophone)
These words were written in 1831, a time in J H Newman’s life of considerable stress and turmoil. He was deeply concerned for the Church of England, and over a number of political events. His own spiritual life was approaching a crisis. On holiday in Italy with friends he became ill. Becalmed on ship on his way home he wrote these words, never intending them to be sung as a hymn. They are a challenge to the tune-writer: first, the mood of deep distress through which faith and hope shines must be expressed; secondly, having been written freely as a poem, the tune must respect the punctuation and allow the sense to flow over the ends of the lines. The upward surge of this tune expresses the mood well, and it sings of a deep resignation to the will of God in the final phrase. We hardly notice the technical problems because of the skill of the writing. W H Harris, who had a long career in cathedral music culminating in almost thirty years at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, wrote the tune in 1924 on a long train journey through Alberta.

from notes by Alan Luff © 1999

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