Monday, August 10, 2009

I have so little musical ability that when I enter a room the average level of musical talent drops dramatically. I do have a cousin who is a musician and I’m trying to get him to learn some of the songs that I like, but somehow Miserere just doesn’t sound the same on a banjo.

Stephen Cleobury, the music director of the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge, said of Kings College…” as well as traditionally minded Christians, we welcome those of all faiths and of none, to whom nonetheless the words and music of the services evidently speak powerfully. Although our services are primarily choral, there are frequent opportunities for congregational hymn-singing, and few sounds are more stirring than the combination of pealing organ with massed voices lifted in song.

I had no idea that they had congregational hymn-singing there. I would love to hear it sometime, but until then I can at least practice with their 2001 CD Best Loved Hymns. This is one that I listen to on Sunday morning with a cup of tea and a Danish but it gets played a lot of other times, too.

There are 18 great songs on this one and they are all done in that powerful King’s College style. It starts with sort of a fanfare, a full orchestra with lots of brass and deep drums on All My Hope On God Is Founded. It’s a very uplifting hymn and the orchestra is fantastic.
There is a stirring version of A Mighty Fortress Is Our Lord and Praise My Lord, the King of Heaven.
For contrast they do When I Survey the Wondrous Cross without music but its so nice I didn’t even notice for a long time.
I love Be Thou My Vision and Dear Lord and Father of Mankind and, as always, I like when there are songs that I don’t know like Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent and several others.
There is one song, Thine Be the Glory, that always amuses me a bit because when they sing the phrase ‘thine be the glory’ is sounds to me almost like they are going to sing ‘frosty the snowman’.
Another fanfare brings up the end with All People That On Earth Do Dwell, lots of horns and that deep, rumbley organ.
This is seventy minutes of really good music, even if it doesn‘t have Miserere on it.


  1. While it's not specifically "boy-choir" oriented (although a number of boy-choirs have performed the work), if there's ever a "Sing it Yourself Messiah" in your area, attend it...even if you don't have the music or know the words. Hearing several thousand voices singing the Hallelujah Chorus is an experience not to be missed.

  2. Kings College broadcasts "Nine Lessons & Carols at Christmas time. It has been carried on local PBS and Religious TV Channels. You can catch some congregational singing at King's then.

  3. David, that sounds like it would be a lot of fun. I've searched the web but I haven't found one in my area yet but if I don't find one I think I'll suggest it to the university choral group.

  4. They are a lot of fun, my first, in my hometown of San Francisco, after the Hallelujah Chorus, the Opera House erupted in spontaneous applause, and we gave ourselves an was taken seriously by all (I'd guess 80% of the audience had their own copy of the score), but, it was also incredibly festive and sheer joy.