|Performers The Choir of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church: Dr. Brady Knapp and Courtney Daniell-Knapp, directors
Composer David Ashley White
Length 71' 12" Price $17.95 (U.S.)
Released 5/2007 Catalog no. 520-254
Label Gothic Records
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Spirit, moving over chaos (Hymn: "Praise the Spirit")
Comfort, comfort, ye my people
The Apple Tree
Adam lay ybounden
Conceived in the autumn (Hymn: "Janet")
The Kingdom of Love
Come all my partners in distress (Hymn: "Wilma")
Are you weary of your burden (Hymn: "Wales")
God is One (Hymn: "Proffitt")
Love came down at Christmas
Sweet was the song
Alleluia, song of gladness
True anointed One
No more a stranger or a guest
As the Father has loved me
O hilarious light
So the day dawn (Hymn: "Wildridge, St. Charles")
Our holy tribute, this
A Fanfare for St. Anthony (organ solo)
Bread of heaven
O taste and see
Come, pure hearts
O Love divine
God so loved the world
Into the woods my Master went
King of glory, King of peace
"This most welcome recording is something of an AAM 'family event' since David, Brady, Courtney, and organist Ann Frohbieter are all Association [of Anglican Musicians] members. David is one of our most gifted and accomplished composers, and the program represents his work in its quality and variety, presented by a choir that has been associated with it for 30 years.
The opening work, Spirit, moving over chaos, snaps ears to attention. It incorporates the hymn tune PRAISE THE SPIRIT, from which the album takes its title. Patricia Clark's 1997 text has a classic flavor, but is in a fresh idiom. Five other anthems bring in hymn tunes, of which Are you weary of your burden (tune WALES) is especially touching in its folksong-like style. A more lively folksong style characterizes Alleluia, song of gladness with sparkling percussion.
With 27 tracks, each a gem, it's hard to single out other favorites. A few selections use older melodies such as Comfort, comfort ye my people with the Genevan Psalter tune and No More a Stranger or a Guest with the tune made famous by Virgil Thomson, but most of the music is original D.A. White. No matter how deeply one loves the 'established' music for texts like Love came down at Christmas, God so loved the world, and O taste and see, David's realizations are compelling additions to the choral repertory.
The choir is in splendid voice with superb intonation and phrasing. Brady and Courtney capture the wide variety of moods with understanding, and Ann's playing is decisive. Diction is not always quite as crisp as one might wish for, but since full texts are provided, they can be followed in the liner--and there are many exceptionally fine texts here. David provides a brief essay regarding his work and his association with Palmer Church.
As a contribution to the recorded literature of the finest American church music, this disc is not to be missed. One can only hope that American choirs touring Great Britain and the Continent will add some of these eponymous works to their programs." --AAM Journal, October 2007
From the composer
Like the works of many composers, my compositions run the gamut from instrumental music to art songs and choral pieces. However, working with words has always given me the greatest pleasure. Praise the Spirit, with its title taken from Patricia B. Clark's wonderful creation hymn, well reflects how various kinds of poetry can inspire the "making" of music. The texts I have set range from the ancient--Psalms of David and a hymn by Clement of Alexandria, first century--to some of the best hymns by today's active writers. The choir and congregation of Palmer Church have sung my music for 30 years. Over time, I have composed a number of works especially for Palmer, including three works heard on this recording, "Adam lay ybounden"; "Memento, Domine"; and "O Taste, and See." (The latter two were composed for the choir’s trip to East Anglia in 2004.) Of the remaining anthems and motets, practically all were commissioned or composed for a particular group or purpose. "True Anointed One" was commissioned for the 1987 Mid-Winter Region VII conference of the Association of Anglican Musicians; "God So Loved the World," to honor John and Leona Schaefer and the Choir of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Mo.; "Our Holy Tribute, This," commissioned in 1995 to celebrate the reopening of the nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston; and "No More a Stranger or a Guest," to honor the staff of the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy. The hymns included here come from my three hymn collections, all published by Selah Publishing Co.: Sing, My Soul (1996); Songs for a New Creation (2002); and New Harmony: A Harp of Thousand Strings (2006), a collaboration with hymn poet Richard Leach. These books represent a significant portion of my output since 1981, when I first began composing hymns.
--David Ashley White .