Continuing its series of music for the liturgical year, the Choir of Clare College now turns its attention to the feast of Corpus Christi, with a number of pieces setting the hymns of St Thomas Aquinas. Considered one of the Catholic Church’s greatest philosophers and influential theologians, Aquinas (c.1225–74) led a busy life of study, teaching and travelling. In 1264, at the request of Pope Urban IV, he wrote five Eucharistic hymns at the institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi. Within these relatively brief writings – just 188 verses in total – Aquinas has gained himself the reputation of being one of the great ecclesiastical poets.
Corpus Christi remains as one of the most important days in the liturgical calendar: it emphasises the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, having previously been observed only on Maundy Thursday in the sombre atmosphere of the forthcoming Good Friday.
The centre-piece of this CD is a complete performance of Josquin’s Missa Pange lingua, [c1515-21] one of the earliest masses and which heralded the Renaissance. The programme ends with Finzi’s ecstatic 'Lo, the full, final Sacrifice'. The piece was commissioned by the great Reverend Walter Hussey (also responsible for commissioning major works by Benjamin Britten, Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland, Leonard Bernstein and others); Finzi composed it directly after the Second World War in 1946 for the 53rd anniversary of the consecration of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton, where Hussey was vicar. Franncis Grier’s setting of 'Panis Angelicus' was composed in 2015 in memory of David Trendell, Director of Music of King’s College, London, who died suddenly in 2014 at the age of 50.
Anonymous: Pange lingua gloriosi (Plain-chant)
Josquin Desprez: Missa Pange Lingua
IV. Sanctus - Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei
Tomás Luis de Victoria: Lauda Sion salvatorem
Pierre de La Rue: O salutaris hostia
William Byrd: Gradualia ac cantiones sacrae, Liber 1: XXXIII. Cibavit eos
Edward Bairstow: Let all mortal flesh keep silence