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Rejoice, The Lord Is King! / James O'donnell, Westminster Abbey Choir


Release Date: 01/14/2014 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 68013   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ralph Vaughan WilliamsJohn GossJ. Seymour IrvineWilliam P. Rowlands,   ... 
Performer:  Robert Quinney
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



REJOICE, THE LORD IS KING! James O’Donnell, cond; Westminster Abbey Ch; Robert Quinney (org) HYPERION 68013 (68:45 Text and Translation)


This is a collection of 22 hymns, identified not by composer but by the traditional hymn-tune names. I turned at once to Picardy, or “Let all mortal flesh keep silence,” certain that if it passed muster, the rest of the program could be judged by it. This is a meditation on the adoration of the Eucharist, marked more by beauty than by power. The choral voices are strong, if Read more less recessively mysterious than I hoped, with the boys taking the second verse and the men the third. The fourth verse was unexpected, not a soaring descant from the boys but another kind of wordless background melody by Sidney Campbell that supported the main melody rather than swamping it (as glorious as that can be). It ended with a large ritard and the expected picardie third. The tempo was a little more upbeat than I would have liked, but the voices held on from line to line without a break for a smooth legato. I was deeply moved, as with any decent performance of this hymn.


All that remained was to hear the whole program straight through. But first I had to try Lobe den Herren, or “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” a familiar and powerful proclamation of praise that often begins a service. The legato from line to line recurred here, but there was an unexpected caesura in the first line. The first three verses were sung by the full choir, but with the final verse in O’Donnell’s arrangement the boys broke out into a soaring descant whose power brought me to tears. I had to postpone the rest of the listening.


Back to the beginning to hear the program as it was designed, Old Hundredth, or “All people that on earth do dwell,” led off in Ralph Vaughan Williams’s incomparable arrangement, sung grandly at a broad tempo with the organ at its most powerful. Blaenwern, or “Love divine, all loves excelling,” was sung with the descant that O’Donnell made for the wedding of William and Kate. Gopsal is the hymn tune composed by Handel to words by Charles Wesley that gives the disc its title. The tune Westminster Abbey, or “Christ is made the sure foundation,” was composed by Henry Purcell when he was organist at the abbey, setting a text by J. M. Neale based on the ancient hymn Angularlis fundamentum . This was sung at the service attended by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. Maccabaeus, or “Thine be the glory,” is another emotional rollercoaster, a modern translation of a modern French hymn written to the music of Handel’s “See, the conquering hero comes,” a sterling example of using secular music for sacred purpose. Eventide, or “Abide with me,” is another emotional powerhouse, the lovely melody enhanced by the acute delivery of the text, as is the case in all the most moving examples just cited. The program concludes with the most unusual hymn of all, Jerusalem, Hubert Parry’s setting of William Blake’s poem, “And did those feet in ancient time.” Romantic yet political, the myth of Christ’s visit to Glastonbury before the beginning of his public life is contrasted with the “dark Satanic mills” of the Industrial Revolution, once an anthem for suffragists, a fixture at the Last Night of the Proms, and the finale of William and Kate’s wedding.


A canon of the abbey writes the notes for each selection, combining appreciation of the music with the citation of uses of the hymn on significant occasions. The program is varied in style and the arrangements avoid using a predictable soaring descant every time. Robert Quinney’s accompaniments are always prominent in an effective way. Anyone who has heard reissues of the abbey choir from the middle of the 20th century must marvel at the difference O’Donnell has wrought with the singing. The boys are firm, the men balanced, the unpleasant protruding voices banished. The subtitle of the disc is accurate—these are “Great Hymns from Westminster Abbey,” not just an ordinary collection. I didn’t expect that this disc would be so entrancing. It is a hymn recording for the ages.


FANFARE: J. F. Weber
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Works on This Recording

1.
English Hymnal: no 23, I heard the voice of Jesus say by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1906; England 
2.
English Hymnal: no 1, Come down, O Love divine by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1906; England 
3.
English Hymnal: All people that on earth do dwell by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
4.
Praise my soul, the King of Heaven by John Goss
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; England 
5.
The Lord's my shepherd by J. Seymour Irvine
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1860; Scotland 
6.
Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Tune: Blaenwern) by William P. Rowlands
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Classical 
Written: Wales 
7.
Guide me, o thou great Redeemer by John Hughes
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
8.
Rejoice, the Lord is King, HWV 286 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1747; England 
9.
Christ is made the sure foundation by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Baroque 
10.
Love of the Father by Orlando Gibbons
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
11.
Drop, drop, slow tears by Orlando Gibbons
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
12.
Maccabaeus: Thine be the Glory by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1746 
13.
All my hope on God is founded by Herbert Howells
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
14.
St. Patrick's Breastplate by Charles Villiers Stanford
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1913; England 
15.
O Praise Ye the Lord (Laudate Dominum) by Charles Hubert Parry
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: United Kingdom 
16.
Jerusalem by Charles Hubert Parry
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1916; England 
17.
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by Charles Hubert Parry
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: England 
18.
O thou who camest from above by Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; England 
19.
Let all mortal flesh keep silence by Anonymous
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Written: France 
20.
O worship the king by William Croft
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: England 
21.
Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele by Anonymous
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Medieval 
22.
Abide with me by William Henry Monk
Performer:  Robert Quinney (Organ)
Conductor:  James O'Donnell
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Westminster Abbey Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861; England 

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