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Musicians are a mischievous lot – as evidenced by the nickname ascribed to John Rutter’s A Gaelic Blessing. No sooner had it been composed in 1978 than it was being referred to as ‘A Garlic Dressing’.
Rutter is known for his beautiful simplistic choral miniatures – and this is the finest example of them all. Commissioned by an American Methodist church, the lush string accompaniment perfectly matches the serene text Rutter chooses to set. Although the words are filled with religious significance, it would be fair to expect the composer himself to hold deep religious beliefs. Rutter, however, describes himself as ‘An agnostic supporter of the Christian faith’.
Lasting under two minutes, A Gaelic Blessing is an enduring popular choice at weddings, christenings and funerals – not only for the deeply comforting words but for the equally tranquil and sensitive music Rutter sets them to.
Polyphony (choir); Bournemouth Sinfonietta; Stephen Layton (conductor). Classic FM: CFMcd 53
Illustration: Mark Millington