Monday, December 22, 2008

My Top 10 Christmas Carols: No 3

3. A Spotless Rose: Herbert Howells

Herbert Howells is in my view the most under-rated British composer of the 20th century. As well as this wondrous carol and a host of other works he also wrote the stirring tune to my favourite hymn, All My Hope on God is Founded.

A Spotless Rose is dedicated to Peter Noyce, who took over from Colin Howard as St Mary's choirmaster in 1979 and who worshipped Howells with something approaching reverence. At one choir practice he described the end of this carol as "probably the greatest single bar of music ever written." I wouldn't quite go that far, but I know what he means.

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The Half-Blood Welshman said...

He's only under-rated by those who don't know much about music. Anyone who has ever sung in a church choir (like you and me) have loved his work and seen him for what he was - a wonderful if rather unconventional composer.

Loving this list, and I especially like this one - I actually sung it for the very first time three weeks ago, and I was hooked. If the other two are better than this, they must be very special!

Happy Christmas.

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