Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Benjamin Britten: A Hymn to the Virgin

This setting of a Medieval carol was written when Britten was 16.

Good Morning Britten says of it:
A Hymn To The Virgin was composed in a single day, during an extended stay in Gresham’s sick bay – but little did Britten know that even then he was writing music that would be sung at his own funeral, some 46 years later! The hymn was published in 1934, by which time Britten had transposed the music down a semitone to make it easier to sing. 
John Bridcut describes it as a "jewel of an anthem…tiny and apparently simple, but perfect". Michael Kennedy also hits the nail on the head, describing the Hymn as "a gentle and fluent work belonging very strongly to the tradition of English religious art but with a freshness that has never faded".
Merry Christmas.

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