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SING WE OF THAT MOTHER BLEST - Girls' Choir and Lay Clerks of Southwell Minster - Edward Turner (Organ) - Simon Hogan (Director) - 802561048725 - Released: November 2016 - Regent Records REGCD487

Naji Hakim: Danse (No. 5 of Mariales)
Bertram Luard-Selby: O glorious Maid
Edvard Grieg: Ave maris stella
James MacMillan: Tota pulchra es
Naji Hakim: Hymne (No. 4 of Mariales)
Basque carol, arr David Willcocks: Gabriel’s Message
Paul Drayton: Ecce ancilla Domini
Simon Johnson: Magnificat on Plainsong Tones
Naji Hakim: Pastorale (No. 2 of Mariales)
Franz Josef Haydn: Benedictus (from Missa Sancti Joannis de Deo)
Plainsong: Now in holy celebration
George Dyson: Magnificat in D
Jean Langlais: La Nativité (No. 2 of Trois poèmes évangéliques, Op. 2)
Stanley Vann: Virgin-born, we bow before thee
Anon, 14th century: There is no Rose
Patrick Hadley: I sing of a maiden
Naji Hakim: Antienne (No. 3 of Mariales)
Matthew Larkin: Adam lay ybounden
Charles Wood, arr Harrison Oxley: Mater ora filium
Anon: Hail to the Lord
Naji Hakim: Incantation (No. 1 of Mariales)
Henry Lawes: Her Virgin eyes
Herbert Howells: Salve Regina

Southwell Minster was founded as a Collegiate Church in the tenth century, and has had a choir ever since. It became a Cathedral with the creation of the Diocese of Southwell in 1884. Southwell Minster is a Cathedral and Parish Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and Marian feast days are of particular importance. Sing we of that Mother blest from the Girls' Choir and Lay Clerks is a musical celebration of the life of the Virgin Mary, and of the music and words she has inspired generations of artists to compose. {Regent Records}

Another exceptional recording of choral music released by Regent Records that despite bringing together a collection of works all focused on the Virgin Mary, is as varied as it is colorful, nuanced and inspiring. Ranging from the powerful and challenging 'Tota pulchra es' by James MacMillan, featuring an ending strong enough to shake dust off the rafters, to the multi-layered flow of 'Gabriel’s Message', it seems there's nothing these singers can't seamlessly morph into. Or take the account of 'There is no Rose' in which the Lay Clerks sound as if they've traveled back in time to the 14th century. The beauty of the Girls' voices in the gentle 'I sing of a maiden' by Patrick Hadley, and best of all, their subtle dynamic shifts in the closing 'Salve Regina' by Herbert Howells, most likely achieved following Simon Hogan's precise direction. The blend and purity of tone of both ensembles when they utter the final Maria is quite magical.

Let's all hope that the tradition and musical culture held up by these institutions, like a flaming torch, never flickers away.

Below is a short video from Dec. 2015 of the Southwell Minster Girls' Choir singing a Christmas carol.

Jean-Yves Duperron - December 2016