This Sunday, the LCH Choir will be singing anthems by British composers Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and Gerald Finzi (1901-1956). You probably know Britten for his “Ceremony of Carols” which we have done at Christmas with women’s voices and harp. At LCH we do a lot of unaccompanied choral music, so Britten’s “Hymn to St. Columba” is on my list as one of the more challenging organ accompaniments.
It was written to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of St. Columba (521-597) from Ireland to Iona, west of Scotland. Britten wrote the anthem in 1962 to a text attributed to St. Columba, called one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
Many non-musicians probably won’t recognize the name, Gerald Finzi, whose anthem “My lovely one,” will be sung at the communion. His works include nine song cycles, six of which are set to poems by Thomas Hardy. He shared Britten’s passion for pacifism, and some have called his music “melancholy nostalgia” in tone.
Allen Bauchle rehearsed both the Britten and Finzi anthems at last Thursday’s rehearsal while Miguel Felipe was away. I’m pretty sure he conducted the Finzi the last time the LCH Choir sang it, and he always says “Kathy gets the last word.” That’s because the choir cuts off the last chord, but I still hold on for another couple beats or so. To remind myself, I even wrote the word “HOLD” in my score so I don’t cut off with the choir!