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While Shepherds Watched - Christmas Music / Holman, Psalmody


Release Date: 10/14/2008 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55325   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousPieter HellendaalJoseph KeySamuel Arnold,   ... 
Performer:  Timothy Roberts
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of InstrumentsPsalmody
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED Peter Holman, dir; Psalmody; The Parley of Instruments HELIOS 55325 (67:33 Text and Translation)


Music of BEESLY, SMITH, HELLENDAAL, KEY, S. ARNOLD, T. CLARK, HANDEL, JARMAN, S. WESLEY, MATTHEWS, J. FOSTER, ANON


It seems that the original issue of this disc as Hyperion 66924 a decade ago was not reviewed here. There is a story behind it that underlies the Christmas music of the 18th and early 19th Read more centuries heard here in roughly chronological order. Under Puritan influence in the previous century, Christmas had not been observed and indeed was proscribed (as we remember in New England as well), accounting for the gap in traditional Christmas music between medieval and Victorian carols. “While shepherds watched their flocks by night,” the text that Michael Beesly later set (the first selection here), was published in 1700, and it is heard again as set by John Christopher Smith, Thomas Clark, and John Foster (the last in 1820).


These carols belong to a wider body of church music that was performed with voices and instruments in the west gallery (or choir loft) of the church, and there is a story there, too. Congregational singing of metrical psalms in place of elaborate church music, a fixture of the Reformation, had become so apathetic and unrhythmical (in the words of the notes here) that choirs were formed to assist the singing, but inevitably they replaced congregational singing with compositions too elaborate to permit their participation.


For this recording with Peter Holman’s Parley of Instruments, the choir Psalmody was formed from singers drawn from the area around Colchester. They support a congregation formed by five choirs from the vicinity. Rather than try to reproduce the low standards and regional accents of the time, they have given a straightforward and vigorous performance of the music as it might have been imagined. The result is a Christmas program quite unique in content and mostly unfamiliar. The sources of all the titles and the instrumentation adopted for each one are given as well. Not just a different sort of Christmas record, this fills a gap in the history of English music.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

1. Let an anthem of praise by Anonymous
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Written: England 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Caleb Ashworth (c. 1762) 
2. Concerti grossi (6), Op. 3: no 4 - Pastorale by Pieter Hellendaal
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Baroque 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
3. Hark! how all the welkin rings by Anonymous
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Written: England 
Length: 6 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Thomas Butts (c. 1767) 
4. Hush! my dear, lie still and slumber by Anonymous
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Written: England 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Thomas Butts (c. 1767) 
5. As shepherds watched their fleecy care by Joseph Key
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1785; England 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
6. Hark! the herald angels sing by Samuel Arnold
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1791; England 
Length: 3 Minutes 38 Secs. 
7. Judas Maccabaeus, HWV 63: See the conqu'ring hero comes by George Frideric Handel
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747; London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Edward Miller (as a setting of "Hark! the herald angels sing") 
8. There were shepherds abiding in the field by Thomas Jarman
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1830; London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
9. Rondo on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Samuel Wesley
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1810; England 
Length: 6 Minutes 23 Secs. 
10. Suite for Harpsichord in E major, HWV 430: no 4, Air and Variations "The Harmonious Blacksmith" by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Timothy Roberts (Organ)
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1720; London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged: Thomas Taylor (as "Hymning seraphs wake the morning") 
11. Angels from the realm of glory by William Matthews
Conductor:  Peter Holman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Parley of Instruments,  Psalmody
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1830; England 
Length: 5 Minutes 28 Secs. 

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