The spirit breathes
is the only composition heard on this album to have organ accompaniment, though ‘accompaniment’ is not the most appropriate term: the organ part is florid and prominent, the choir part relatively modest and plain. The piece was commissioned by St Mark’s Anglican Church, Niagara-on-the-Lake, to commemorate the congregation’s 225th anniversary and celebrate the arrival of a new organ by Canadian organ builder Gabriel Kney, which they naturally wished to show off. The full range of the organ’s solo colours is utilized, with flutes, diapasons and mutations all called for at different times to illuminate the text, which was specially written by poet and former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams. He prefaces his poem with the words ‘Loud organs his glory’, a phrase from H W Baker’s familiar hymn ‘O praise ye the Lord’, usually sung to Parry’s hymn tune Laudate Dominum
. The subject of Williams’s poem is the unique role of the organ in worship, to pierce these ‘steely hearts … So that praise springs and singing starts’. In keeping the choir part simple, mostly moving at a steady pace with little contrapuntal elaboration, Park is allowing the remarkable text to be clearly heard, while giving the organ freedom to soar, its arabesque-like flute stop figures suggesting the flight of a free spirit. It comes as no surprise that Park quotes some of Parry’s tune in thunderous pedal notes, reminding us of the awe-inspiring power of the king of instruments. The first performance was given by Trinity College Choir on 15 July 2017 during their tour of Canada.
from notes by John Rutter © 2018