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Lo, the full, final sacrifice, Op 26

composer
1946; STB soli, SATB divisi + organ; festival anthem; commissioned by the Reverend Walter Hussey
author of text
Hymns of St Thomas Aquinas: Adoro Te and Lauda Sion salvatorem

 
In noting how far Lo, the full, final sacrifice sits from the choral sound and manner of Vaughan Williams, Banfield observes also its distance from Finzi’s other metaphysical settings, commenting on its ‘intense, almost necromantic atmosphere, laden with incense’. This, indeed, was fairly specifically requested when the work was commissioned by the Revd Walter Hussey for the patronal festival of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton. Finzi’s sensitive conflation of two poems by Richard Crashaw (1612/3–1649), both free translations from Latin hymns by St Thomas Aquinas, resulted in a musical conception that grew and grew from the sombre contemplation of its opening. Focus on the Eucharist (suggested by Hussey) is maintained through the recurrent imagery of manna, bread, wine and redemption. The central exhortation ‘Rise, Royal Sion!’ calls forth one of Finzi’s most radiantly majestic passages, but elsewhere the music is punctuated by exquisitely introspective solo material or the highlighting of individual vocal lines. What could have degenerated into an unworkably discursive series of episodes is unified by Finzi’s skill in the use of ‘head motifs’, much like the ‘corymbus’ notion of Edmund Rubbra, cited earlier, whereby ideas heading in fresh and unexpected directions spring initially from a common source, in apparent illustration of Crashaw: ‘Nor let my days / Grow, but in new powers to thy name and praise.’ Ultimately the subdued opening music returns (‘When this dry soul those eyes shall see’), followed by a recurrence of the text’s opening couplet. The E major Amen that follows is beautiful not only for itself, but also for its ‘healing’ restoration of F sharp to what had previously been a modal scale ‘disfigured’ by a dissonant F natural; yet both these competing entities are then held in unresolved balance within the very final bars, like the two inseparable wings of an eternal truth.

from notes by Francis Pott © 2019

Recordings

English Choral and Organ Music
CDH55009Archive Service
Evensong Live 2019
Studio Master: KGS0038-DDownload onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Finzi, Bax & Ireland: Choral Music
Studio Master: CDA68167Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Finzi: Choral works
Studio Master: CDA68222Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The English Anthem, Vol. 2
CDA66519Archive Service

Details

Track 5 on CDA68167 [15'15]
Track 15 on CDA68222 [15'18]
Track 8 on CDH55009 [15'30] Archive Service
Track 11 on CDA66519 [16'34] Archive Service
Track 16 on KGS0038-D [14'17] Download only

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