The recording of services began in the autumn of 2015, when a new sound system was installed in the cathedral. These were made available on an occasional basis via the choir’s Soundcloud page. With the advent of this website, our aim is to make a different service available each week and, in this way, we seek to allow those unable to be with us in person to participate in the worship that is central to the life of Hereford Cathedral.

It is important to note that in these recordings, the listener hears exactly what they would have heard had they been present at the service itself. No extra rehearsal is undertaken beforehand, and no editing takes place afterwards.

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A number of the sermons preached at the cathedral are available to listen to and to read here.

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Evensong, Saturday 22 September 2018

This service was attended by members of the Friends of Cathedral Music. The anthem is Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb. Britten seems to have been drawn to unusual texts in his choral writing, and this is certainly true in the case of Rejoice in the Lamb, whose words are taken from the longer poem Jubilate Agno by the 18th-century writer Christopher Smart (1722–71). Smart suffered from what would today be called manic depression or bipolar disorder, but in those less enlightened days he was labelled a lunatic, and spent many years in an asylum. Even after his eventual release, his reputation for living beyond his means pursued him, and he spent the last years of his life in a debtors’ prison.
 Smart’s poetry describes his relationship with nature and God in a visionary, almost ecstatic way. His delight in the natural world can be seen in his numerous references to flora and fauna. After an opening chorus, where Smart links various figures from the Old Testament with the animal kingdom, Britten sets three solo sections: first, a delightfully sinuous portrayal of the cat (soprano); second, a jaunty depiction of a bravely defiant mouse (alto); and finally a beautiful and lyrical evocation for tenor of the wonder of flowers. Then comes an intensely personal chorus, where Smart identifies his suffering with that of Christ, and writes that ‘he that was born of a virgin’ will deliver him out of his ‘twelve hardships’. This is followed by a somewhat curious bass recitative where four letters of the alphabet are linked to different qualities of God. The last three, ‘king’, ‘love’ and ‘music’ are all equated with their initial letters, but the connection between H and ‘a spirit’ is rather less obvious, until one realises that this is a piece of word-play (something which clearly delighted Smart), and that the line can also be read as ‘for haitch is aspirate’. The work ends with Smart’s own ‘Hallelujah’ chorus – ‘from the hand of the artist inimitable’.
 After Smart’s death, his nephew, Christopher Hunter, wrote, ‘I trust he is now at peace; it was not his portion here.’

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