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Behold, O God our defender

4 June 2002
author of text
Psalm 84: 9-10

John Scott (b1956) began his musical career as a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral. While still at school he gained the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists, winning the major prizes. He was organ scholar of St John’s College Cambridge, acting as assistant to Dr George Guest, and during this time, continued his studies with Gillian Weir. On leaving Cambridge he became assistant organist at both St Paul’s and Southwark cathedrals, later becoming sub-organist of St Paul’s, and in 1990 succeeded Christopher Dearnley as organist and director of music. Under his direction, the St Paul’s Choir toured three continents, made many recordings and performed with most of the London orchestras.

As an organist, John Scott has performed in five continents, premiered many new works written for him, and worked with various specialist ensembles. He is a first-prize winner from the Manchester International Organ Competition (1978) and the Leipzig J S Bach Competition (1984). In 1998 he was nominated International Performer of the Year by the American Guild of Organists, and he is a past president of the Incorporated Association of Organists. In the summer of 2004 he was translated to the post of organist and director of music at St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York, but not before he had given concerts in Switzerland, the USA, South Africa, Holland, Notre Dame in Paris, Passau Dom in Germany, the Hereford Three Choirs Festival, and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall; he participated in the Gala Concert to celebrate the Royal Festival Hall organ’s fiftieth birthday and in the triumphant opening of the restored and rebuilt organ at the Royal Albert Hall. He also gave two memorable recitals at St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, and conducted an outstanding performance of Verdi’s Requiem. John Scott was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in the 2004 New Year’s Honours List.

Of the anthem Behold, O God our defender, the composer writes: ‘I was invited to compose an anthem for the Golden Jubilee Service of HM The Queen held in St Paul’s on 4 June 2002. In a service characterized by pageantry, rejoicing and high celebration, the opportunity was taken to contribute something of a more gentle and reflective nature. As a devotee of the music of Herbert Howells, I was drawn to set these beautiful words from Psalm 84, which shamelessly evokes Howells’s choral palette. Howells set these words for the Coronation Service in 1953, and I’ve always felt his little masterpiece has been unduly neglected. My Royal tribute also ends in homage to Howells; the final tenor phrase, with its Lydian inflection, draws directly on Howells’s setting.’

from notes by William McVicker © 2005


Howells: The house of the mind & other choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD491Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The English Anthem, Vol. 8


Track 15 on CDA67483 [2'46]
Track 10 on SIGCD491 [2'28] Download only

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