Kah-Ming Ng wears his rigorous scholarship lightly; his notes, sprinkled with contemporary quotes, enthusiastically introduce eight English composers, some little-known but all with Oxford connections. Much of the music is a stream of newly-minted response to unfolding text, not in itself memorable but a very beautiful generic style. Several though, by William Lawes and Child, alternate vivid description—of 'power', 'wrath', 'heathen furiously [raging] together'—with simple but deeply moving hymn-tunes returning to haunt the memory. Against some work-a-day functional music, Purcell's 'Since God so tender' stands out, its astonishing harmony oscillating freely between major and minor, voices shaping uneven phrase lengths—all over the simplest eight-note repeated 'ground'.
The singers are ideal for the repertoire, unaffected voices with the mutual rapport of lay-clerks—as two of them have been. Rodrigo del Pozo has a colourful but easy high-tenor voice, Nicholas Perfect a remarkable resonance at the bottom of his range.
Three harpsichord pieces including a 'ground' arranged by Ng and a voluntary by Albertus Bryne (in his day, 'that famously velvet-fingered organist') and a set of divisions for viol with theorbo accompaniment leaven the vocal music. Recording quality, in stereo rather than more spacious 5.1 surround-sound, is nonetheless excellent.