In 1944 Howells wrote a set of Morning Canticles for King’s College, Cambridge. With the Evening Canticles recorded here coming the following year, the ‘Coll. Reg.’ settings immediately set the benchmark for twentieth-century liturgical composition and led to the composer being besieged by requests from cathedrals and collegiate chapels for other such ‘custom-built’ settings. It was the composer’s innate understanding of the individual characteristics—acoustic, architecture and choral timbre—of each foundation which made these works so successful and popular. This programme includes the Morning Canticles written for St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle and the Evening Canticles which constitute the ‘New College Service’.
Ever the master of the choral miniature, the Three Carol-Anthems are among Howells’s most perennially popular works, having been recorded and performed across the globe. Several of the other pieces included here are less famous, but all display their composer’s inimitable mastery of form and choral technique.