Praise My Soul
Choir of Jesus College Cambridge, Jordan Wong and Dewi Rees (organ), Richard Pinel (director)
rec. 2018, Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge, UK
SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD545 [66:32]
I came to this disc after my colleague Marc Rochester, but before I’d read his thoughts on it. All I can do is add my voice to his praise. I found this a really appealing disc of classic hymns, well sung, and with the power to raise the spirits in places.
If you were looking for an anthology of English hymns then you could do a lot worse. There is the solemnity of Holy, Holy, Holy, or the exuberant praise of the title track. There are many that are classically English, such as the Bunyan-inspired He who would valiant be, or the pastoral The day thou gavest, which I will always associate with an English cathedral evensong. There is also a European nod with Joyful, joyful we adore thee, sung to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, and Crimond, the most Scottish of Psalm tunes, for The Lord’s my shepherd.
Every good hymn collection should also introduce you to one you don’t know. For me that was Glory in the Highest, a lovely hymn with a memorable vocal line and an uplifting spirit, something that not every hymn has. The intimate setting of Drop, drop slow tears is perhaps a little surprising in this company, but it sounds appealing nonetheless. My only slight quibble is with the descants, whose effectiveness varies. Most are appealingly original, though the final verse of Come down, O love divine is a little overblown.
Still, the performances are always lovely: total choral security is combined with a knowledge of the genre from the inside out, and the various use of the different choirs works very well. Richard Pine’s direction is unobtrusive, as it should be in this repertoire, and the recording, at home in the Jesus College chapel, is welcoming and rewarding, the organ captured thrillingly at several moments. As I said, if you’re looking for a taster of the English hymn tradition, you could do a lot worse.
Previous review: Marc Rochester
John Goss (1800-1880) - Praise my soul the King of Heaven [2:56]
Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) - Glory to thee, my God [2:53]
Attr. William Croft (1678-1727) - O God our help in ages past [2:48]
Richard Redhead (1820-1901) - Rock of ages, cleft for me [2:38]
Maurice Bevan (1921-2006) - There’s a wideness in God’s mercy [3:19]
Clement Scholefield (1839-1904) - The day thou gavest [3:26]
John Bacchus Dykes (1823-1876) - Holy, holy, holy [3:18]
William Ferguson (1874-1950) - Glory in the highest [2:14]
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) - Joyful, joyful we adore thee [2:14]
Herbert Howells (1892-1983) - All my hope on God is founded [3;29]
Francis Jackson (b.1917) - For the fruits of his creation [2:28]
Trad. Arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams - He who would valiant be [2:09]
Edward Miller (1731-1807) - When I survey the wondrous cross [3:38]
John Ireland (1879-1962) - My song is love unknown [ 4:45]
Cyril Taylor (1907-1991) - Sing we of the blessed Mother [4:39]
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625) - Drop, drop slow tears [1:21]
Jessie Irvine (1836-1887) - The Lord’s my shepherd [3:02]
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) - Come down, O love divine [3:35]
David Manners (b.1975) - How shall we sing salvation’s song? [2:42]
William Henry Monk (1823-1889) - Abide with me [4:33]
John Barnard (b.1948) - Christ triumphant, ever reigning [4:00]