Title: The Hymns Album
Repertoire: The nation’s favourite hymns
Artists: Wallingford Parish Church Choir
Label: DECCA 2765916
The Music: The Christian hymn industry nurtured plenty of rich and enduring collaborations between poets and composers, some of whom were separated by hundreds of years. This album includes all the big congregation-pleasers, like Bunyan/ Vaughan Williams’s ‘He Who Would Valiant Be’ (1906), Blake/Parry’s perennial ‘Jerusalem’ (1916) and Spring-Rice/Holst’s tear-jerking ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’ (1921).
The Performance: So why entrust these weighty chunks of history to the humble church choir of an Oxfordshire market town? Well, after a nationwide search, Universal Records has crowned Wallingford’s warblers Britain’s Best Parish Choir and given them the recording deal to prove it. Certainly, the 50 mixed-gender singers are better than your typical Sunday morning surplice-wearers, and there are some high-class solos. The slick, occasionally synthetic-sounding musical accompaniment won’t be to everybody’s tastes, but is undeniably easier on the ears than the wheezing of a conventional old organ.
The Verdict: These are great tunes. And they’re best served plain by everyday folk, not adulterated with vibrato and drum machines by crossover stars. If you enjoy a singalong of a Sunday morning, you’ll like this.
Want More? More hymns, this time with added incense and Latin, can be acquired from Ireland’s The Priests (Epic/Sony BMG 88697 339692).