Sing ye to the Lord

Chichester Cathedral Choir

Organist and Master of the Choristers: Alan Thurlow

Assistant Organist: James Thomas

Sing ye to the Lord Edward C Bairstow
The King of love my shepherd is Edward C Bairstow
Save us, O Lord Edward C Bairstow
I sat down under His shadow Edward C Bairstow
The Easter Anthems: Christ our Passover chant by Christopher Brown
Haec Dies Charles Wood
Oculi omnium Charles Wood
Christ the Lord is risen again Anthony Foster
Te Deum in A Charles Villiers Stanford
Jubilate in A Charles Villiers Stanford
How beauteous are their feet Charles Villiers Stanford
Dear Lord and Father of mankind Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Give us the wings of faith Ernest Bullock
O most merciful! Ernest Bullock
Crossing the Bar (Sunset and evening star) Jack A Westrup
Psalm 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills chant by H Walford Davies
God be in my head H Walford Davies
Grace to you and peace H Walford Davies

Total playing time 71m 58s


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Sing ye to the Lord

In the final years of the twentieth century, and with appreciation of church music probably at its highest level, it is easy to forget just how much has changed even within the last fifty years. Certainly, up until the Second World War, the repertoire of most choral foundations in this country was essentially English, and the use of Latin texts was not widely encouraged. Novello's 'Words of Anthems' book (1898) which for many years was the standard pew and reference book, lists just 66 Latin texted works out of a grand total of 1,952. Many works by continental composers were performed but with translated texts rather than in their mother tongue. In fifty years the pendulum has swung and today, particularly in some areas of the repertoire such as communion settings, there is perhaps a danger of neglecting some parts of the English heritage.

The theme of this anthology recording is essentially English. Six of the nine composers featured were born between 1848 and 1890 and, with a combined life span of from 1848 until 1979, represent the repertoire which dominated cathedral music for the first half of this century.

At a time when Choral Mattins is still largely in decline (only 19 foundations currently sing Mattins every Sunday) it is a great pleasure to have been able to include Stanford's fine A major setting of the morning canticles.

Some works have been included for largely personal reasons. For example, the first recording of Walford Davies' magnificent Grace to you and peace which Richard Lloyd introduced me to at Durham and which I always greatly enjoyed accompanying. Bullock's O most merciful made a great impact on me as a boy when I first heard it on an early recording from Wells under Denys Pouncey. The moving arrangement of Parry's Dear Lord and Father of mankind (to the original music from 'Judith') was recommended to me for a special service at Chichester and has been in the repertoire ever since, not least because of that splendid treble-only verse, set to a different tune.

The three other composers represent something of the continuing tradition. Westrup's gem Crossing the bar was in Conrad Eden's repertoire at Durham and appeared on Durham's first ever recording (A small EP made for Abbey Records). Christopher Brown's original and cunning quadruple chant (in which the first half is composed so that it can be sung simultaneously with the second half) was in John Birch's repertoire at Chichester and retains its rightful place today. Anthony Foster is a Chichester based composer with that typically English gift of melodic invention; he has written a number of works for the Chichester choir, but perhaps none better than this characterful hymn tune sung every Easter in the Cathedral at the conclusion of Evensong and matching the well known setting by Wood of 'This joyful Eastertide', which is sung in the morning. Alan Thurlow, Chichester, 1997

Chichester Cathedral Choir

The statutes at Chichester provide for a Foundation of eighteen boys and six men (Lay Vicars). The Choristers and Probationers are educated at the Prebendal School - the Cathedral's own Choir School - in West Street, where they are required to be boarders. As well as their singing, Choristers learn the piano and an orchestral instrument, spending, in addition to their normal schooling, at least twenty hours each week on musical training and performance. The Lay Vicars are professional singers who attend the Cathedral daily except on Wednesdays. The Choir sings a minimum of eight services in the Cathedral each week in addition to concerts, broadcasts, recordings and tours. It is one of the most highly respected Cathedral choirs in the country and is particularly noted for the beautiful and soft tone which it is able to produce in the sympathetic acoustic of the Cathedral.

On stage the Choir has appeared with artistes as diverse as Petula Clark, Richard Stilgoe, The King's Singers, the Cambridge Buskers, the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and Cantabile. Television appearances have included performances in Placido Domingo's Christmas Choice and Rumpole of the Bailey. In 1985 their recording of Cathedral Music by Geoffrey Burgon won one of the 'Critics' Choice of the Year' awards in the Gramophone Magazine.

Alan Thurlow

Alan Thurlow was born in 1947 in Woodford Green Essex and at the age of eight joined his local choir at St. Barnabas' Church. He was educated at Bancroft's School, Woodford. After serving as Assistant Organist of St. Barnabas' for a number of years he was, at the age of seventeen, appointed Organist, a position which he did not relinquish until the end of his University career. He read music at Sheffield University from 1965 to l968, gaining a first-class honours degree, before going on to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, from 1968 to 1971 for a period of research into pre-Reformation English Church music. In 1973 he was appointed Sub-Organist at Durham Cathedral, serving first under Dr. Conrad Eden and later under Richard Lloyd. While at Durham he combined his duties at the Cathedral with those of Director of Music at The Chorister School and part-time Lecturer in Music at Durham University. In 1980 he was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chichester Cathedral in succession to John Birch. In addition to his work at the Cathedral his many outside commitments include being a member of the Executive of the Friends of Pallant House, an Organ Adviser for the Diocese of Chichester, Chairman of The Friends of Cathedral Music and an area representative for the Royal School of Church Music. He is also Chairman of the Organ Advisory Committee of the Council for the Care of Churches and is Chairman of the Trustees of the ON Organ Fund, the only national trust of its kind, which exists to make grants for work on pipe organs in places of worship. He has travelled with the Chichester Cathedral Choir and the RSCM to France, Holland, Germany, South Africa and the United States. During his time at Chichester the Cathedral's historic pipe organ has been restored to use after a silence of fourteen years during which services were accompanied by an electronic organ. He has recently completed a two-year term as President of the Cathedral Organists Association.

James Thomas

James Thomas was born in Banbury in 1963. He was educated at Magdalen College School, Brackley, and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was Organ Scholar, reading music. After graduating, he spent a year studying for the Post Graduate Certificate in Education. During this time, he received organ tuition from Nicolas Kynaston, and in 1985 gained the F.R.C.O. diploma, winning the Dixon Prize for extemporisation. He was twice a finalist for the Tournemire Prize at the St Alban's International Organ Festival Competition. In 1986, James went to work in Caen, Normandy, teaching choral singing at the Conservatoire. He also studied organ with Louis Thiry in Rouen, gaining a Premier Prix in 1988. Later that year, he returned to England as Assistant Organist at Blackburn Cathedral, and Assistant Director of Music at St Wilfrid's C of E High School.

In 1991, James was appointed Assistant Organist at Chichester Cathedral, and Director of Music at the Prebendal School. He has made many recordings and broadcasts with the Cathedral Choir, and most recently a solo CD on the Cathedral Organ. He has given recitals all over the country, and in France and Germany. In 1995, James was a semi-finalist in the Royal College of Organists 'Performer of the Year" competition. He has also been Musical Director of the Chichester Amateur Operatic Society.

In 1993, James was married in the Cathedral. His wife is also an organist, formerly Organ Scholar of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. They have two daughters; the eldest enjoys standing on the pedals, the youngest possesses a powerful voice.

James Thomas left Chichester in the summer of 1997 to take up the post of Director of Music (Organist and Master of the Choristers) at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Suffolk.

Recorded in Chichester Cathedral 5th, 6th and 7th May 1997

Produced by Richard Tanner
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews