Hymn singing is a foundation of the protestant churches, but not normally the subject of an album released worldwide. The musicianship presented here is singular, sung by two volunteer choirs with power and emotion. The inspired arrangements heard on this recording have developed over decades of working with wonderful choirs and congregations, as well as by singing with, and listening to, many inspired colleagues. Some of the descants were conceived for particular services, while other arrangements grew further for special occasions. Several of the brass arrangements were composed for the ordination and consecration of the Rt. Rev. Alan Gates as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in 2014.
Australians Michael S. Murray and Stuart Forster, outstanding individual musicians, have worked together for more than 20 years, including conducting and accompanying in one another’s Episcopal churches, Christ Church in Cambridge and Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, located on opposite sides of the river Charles in Boston, Massachusetts, and during choir tours throughout America and Europe. Waiting and planning for the right moment to share their combined parish traditions of engaged singing from the vast legacy of hymnody bestowed upon the Anglican tradition has been fulfilled in this album. The installation of the exquisite Schoenstein organ at Church of the Redeemer, the restoration of the acoustic in Henry Vaughan’s exquisite architecture, and the publication of some of Stuart Forster’s hymn arrangements made the timing just right. What you will hear on this album is a superlative combined choir of about eighty voices singing some of the best-known hymns accompanied by a newly designed organ as they’ve never been heard before.