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English Choir Music

I am preparing a program for my church of English Anthems. The overall program is being billed as "Last Night at the Proms." The choir is made up of paid singers and volunteers (about 40 in number) and I have instrumentalists available but would like the program to be as organ driven as possible. So far I'm thinking of including the following:
Rejoice in the Lamb - Britten
Take Him Earth For Cherishing - Howells
Song for Athene - Tavener
The Twelve - Walton
I Was Glad - Parry
Zadok the Priest - Handel
These are not definite and I am looking for suggestions. I am open to any ideas. Also, becuase of the theme I need to include "Jerusalem" and "Land of Hope and Glory" and I am in need of arrangements of these pieces. Thanks for your help!
on May 23, 2014 5:04pm
Nice list!  I don’t think you can improve it too much but you might consider some pieces outside the norm.  After all, I first heard Monteverdi’s Adoramus Te Christe at the Proms!
Farrant:  Call to Remembrance
Gibbons, O:  This is the Record of John
Holst:  Two Psalms
Purcell:  Rejoice in the Lord Alway
Vaughan Williams:  O Clap Your Hands
Wesley, SS:  Wash Me Throughly
Michael A. Gray
on May 23, 2014 6:11pm
Howells' choral writing is really extraordinary, isn't it?  I'm so glad his superb Requiem has brought him to choirs far beyond England.  Vaughan Williams, Howells and Finzi are my favorite three from that era, and each wrote several works absolutely essential to the English repertoire.  These pieces I think are especially compelling, and some of the most beautiful:
FinziWelcome sweet and sacred feast  (Boosey)
FinziMagnificat  (Boosey)
FinziLo, the full, final sacrifice  (Boosey)
HowellsLike as the hart  (Oxford)
Howells: The House of the Mind  (Novello)
Vaughan WilliamsLord, Thou hast been our refuge  (Curwen/G.Schirmer)
All well-crafted and gorgeously written for the voices.
Kevin Lash
Princeton, NJ
on May 23, 2014 6:31pm
Parry's Jerusalem is originally unison, but has been arranged multiple times for SATB, if that's what you seek.  Some versions are available on CPDL here; I think Maurice Jacobson's arrangement for SATB & keyboard is still published (Curwen/G. Schirmer); another is given an electronic rendering on Youtube here.
Kevin Lash
Princeton, NJ
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 24, 2014 2:40am
There is an arrangement of Elgar's Land of hope and glory" by Fagge.
Maybe you also can should have a look on the very good english composers ben Parry, Jonathan Rathbone or Jonathan Dove.
Manfred Bender Germany
on May 24, 2014 2:55am
Marvellous IDEA, and a brave effort — I wish I could be there!  A nice «opener» might be Martin Shaw's WITH A VOICE OF SINGING.  I know it's not in the same league as Howells and Purcell, but it is thoroughly English, thoroughly SINGABLE, and thoroughly ENJOYABLE.  It could set the mood for what follows. Don't be surprised, though, if some audience members can't help «singing along».  My one caveat is that, having viewed the YouTube offerings of this piece, be careful not to make a dirge out of it.  Depending on the «room» presto might not be too fast.
on May 24, 2014 4:06am
Dear Abel,  Please don't think I'm comparing my composition to the wonderful selection you have so far but if your concert were to fall near Christmas you might consider the inclusion of my new, traditional yet modern carol The Age Old Reason for Joy.  It is a carol for everyone with 'new' words and I'm hoping that it will be sung by many in the run up the this year's festivities.  Simply Google the title and you will find everything needed for learning and performance available as free downloads.  Or here is a link direct to the page on my website where one can also see and hear a performance done at my local Chuch of St Mary's Walberton, West Sussex.
Good luck
Robin Mayhew
on May 24, 2014 7:29am
If you have a very good star lyric baritone available, you may program Vaughan Williams' "Five Mystical Songs" for baritone and chorus. There are versions for both piano and organ. It would be perfect for the concert you describe. I am doing a concert of English sacred music right now with my men's chorus and am programming the TTBB version of this, but the original is for SATB. Look on at the lesser-known oratorios of Elgar ("The Light of Life". "The Apostles") for grand choruses that would be good for such a concert. They are beautiful. If you want to do a men-only selection, check out "Seek Him Who Maketh the Seven Start" from "The Light of Life" - gorgeous with a beautiful tenor solo. Don't forget "I Was Glad" by Parry if you have that many singers and a good organ/organist.
on May 24, 2014 8:22am
Great idea for a program! How about a work by Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor? In the early 20th century, his "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast" was more popular than both Handel's "Messiah" AND Mendelssohn's "Elijah." He studied composition with C.V. Stanford at the Royal Accademy of Music and was classmates with Herbert Howells and Vaughan Williams. Maybe you could do something from Hiawatha?
It would be so great to see one of Coleridge-Taylor's a cappella partsongs performed. Among these, I'd recommend:
"The Evening Star"
"Song of Proserpine"
"Whispers of Summer"
"By the Lone Sea Shore"
You might also consider one of Coleridge-Taylor's sacred works, which are scored for choir and organ:
"By the waters of Babylon" (my favorite of his anthems!; a bit dark)
"Break forth into joy"
"O ye that love the Lord"
"The Lord is my strength"
"Now Late on the Sabbath"
"Morning and Evening Service" (Jubilate Deo, Te Deum, Benedictus, Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis)
There are more works of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor to consider, especially one of his numerous cantatas for chorus and orchestra. And there are some great websites on him, especially the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Foundation website at There aren't many recordings out there of Coleridge-Taylor's choral stuff. But having studied his music, I would say he sounds like a cross between C.V. Stanford, Arthur Sullivan, and Antonin Dvorak (by whom he was heavily influenced). Anyway, I hope this information is useful. And regardless of what you ultimately select for your program, I wish you the very best for a terrific concert.
Zanaida Robles, DMA (ABD)
Singer | Conductor | Composer | Instructor
on May 24, 2014 10:38am
One song that must surely find a place in your repertoire would be "I Vow To Thee My Country" words by Sir Cecil Rice music Gustav Holst. This has been a traditional patriotic anthem for several years.
Good Luck,
on May 24, 2014 11:31am
A not very well known but quite a good piece is Richard Rodney Bennett's Glory and the Dream for choir and organ. Quite a challenging organ part and not the easiest choral part. Still definitely doable. Written in 2000 on commission from choirs around the world. Available from Novello. I have a recording so if anybody would like to hear I could post it.
on May 24, 2014 7:22pm
Hosannah to the Son of David - Weelkes
Quid petis, o filii? - Pygott
on May 24, 2014 9:52pm
Stephen Klyce of the Chamber Chorus Roundtable:
Rejoice in the Lamb - Britten  (Exc.  features the organ and needs an expert player; not truly an anthem, but who cares?  right? Christopher Smart was out in l. field)
Take Him Earth For Cherishing - Howells  (Howells should be represented; don't know this one)
Song for Athene - Tavener  (Ethereal; heavenly; very unusual and not your Sunday ordinary anthem; worth the effort)
The Twelve - Walton  (don't know;  Most of Sir Wm would pass muster; I don't think of him as an Anthem composer)
I Was Glad - Parry   (Unbeatable English classic; Organ is the main highlight; nice one!)
Zadok the Priest - Handel (Probably demands orch.  Just heard the version recorded by Sir David with St M.i.t.Flds--and it is outstanding!)
Since you count Handel as English:  Check his "Deck Thyself my soul with Gladness" which has a lovely accompaniment quite adaptable to organ; however, strings would be even better)
Vaughan-Williams:  Q. El. II Coronation 1953:  One or both of his: "O taste and see" and/or "Old Hundredth" 'All people that on earth'--"
There's a big vacuum of early English such as Byrd, Tye Tallis, the first J. Taqverner, et al.
Of these check Tallis' "If ye love me"  (I think it's a cap. but maybe not; Searle Wright at St. Paul's Columbia U. said to Union students: "Beware; the Tallis never goes right")  It's the Gospel for this Sun.
I noticed someone recommended "Call to remembrance" which I really like and never tire of; there's some doubt about the Farrant authorship as I recall;  Like Purcell or Jeremiah Clarke for the Trpt. Vol.
Any Holst should fill the bill:  I really like "The heart worships"  I don't hear of it being sung anymore;  very light easy accomp; quiet and lovely harmonies;  "Silence in heav'n; silence on earth--"
Oh iyes:  nothing , but nothing surpasses Byrd:  "Non vos relinquam"  "I will not leave you comfortless" a cap. and superb; a do not omit piece.
Sidebar:  Richard Rodney Bennett who arr. dozens of things for Robt. Shaw, is not English, is he?
I would think Frederick Delius left us an anthem or two; worth a search.
Then there's Peter Warlock who must have composed some anthems.
Some of his fans will shout:  Where's John Rutter?
'nuf said.
on May 25, 2014 10:09am
No one has yet mentioned Charles Villiers Stanford ... a huge presence in English choral music in the early 20th century.  The exquisits, "Beati quorum viae" is a motet of glorious beauty.  There are any number of "Serviices" done by Stanford also ... sets of "Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis" canticles for Evensong.  All magnificent and with organ. 
The music of John Joubert is also very interesting ... a bit more edgy than some of his contemporaries.  Born in South Africa, but spent his career on Birt soil.  Also the various pieces of Kenneth Leighton are worth a look.  This could be a concert for the ages if you use all of this music!  Enjoy choosing.  The nature of the English Church makes music such a central and integral part of its worship that virtually every substantial English composer has written choral music at one point in his/her life.  Speaking of "her"s ... Elizabeth Poston, and American, spent her composing life in England and produced a spectacular setting of Psalm 150 called "Antiphon and Psalm" (I think) ... wonderful creative organ part and fine use of the choir.  She wrote that wonderful carol setting, "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" ... not a bad choice either.
on May 26, 2014 9:47am
Hello Abel,
If the organ you will be using includes trumpets en chamade, I recommend Sir Michael Tippett's setting of the Magnificat text (in English) for your consideration.  The organ has fanfare phrases between many of the text phrases, and the piece is therefore very "splashy." 
Richard Householder
University of Windsor
on May 27, 2014 12:30pm
Stephen Winn Klyce mentioned Peter Warlock and Frederick Delius; Warlock wrote several carol settings but not, as far as I'm aware, any anthems or extended sacred works. Delius was an atheist; he wrote a Requiem during World War 2, but it was a humanist, not a Christian, work.
Although a towering figure in Victorian British church music (and also as a symphonist) Charles Villiers Stanford was Irish, not English"
Samuel Sebastian Wesley wrote a number of excellent anthems, one of them being "Blessed be the God and Father" which includes the treble solo "Love one another with a pure heart fervently".  Other notable composers of the 19th Century included John Stainer ("Crucifixion" which includes "God so loved the world" and John Goss - "O taste and see").
One of Richard Farrant's best short motets is "Lord,for thy tender mercies sake".
David Marsden
Sale, Greater Manchester, UK
on June 3, 2014 1:06pm
Thank you all for your suggestions. They were all very helpful. Here is what I think I'm looking at and I may whittle it down from here:

Britten- Rejoice in the Lamb
Howells - Take Him Earth for Cherishing
Tavener - Song for Athene
Walton - The Twelve
Handel - Zadok the Priest
Vaughan WIlliams - O Clap Your Hands
Weelkes - When David Heard
Samuel Coeridge-Taylor - By the Waters of Babylon
Finzi - Lo, the Full Final Sacrifice
Parry - I Was Glad
Parry- Jerusalem
Elgar - Land of Hope and Glory
on June 10, 2014 5:42pm
I like "Oh for the Wings of a Dove" - by Mendelssohn.  Yes, I know he's German, but the first performance was in London and the librettist was English.
Bell Anthem by Purcell.
Totally agree with I was Glad by Parry.  One response objected to Stanford on the grounds of Irish-ness, so really Parry should be excluded because of Welsh-ness.
You could also use spirituals from "A Child of our Time" by Michael Tippett?
on June 11, 2014 7:14am
I see that you have a great list. I didn't notice one of my favorite English Anthems, and wanted to mention it.
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