"Hymnus Paradisi" was written after the death of Howells's only son from polio in the late 1930s. In 1950, Howells showed it to Ralph Vaughan Williams, who insisted that it be made public; thankfully, Howells assented.
Handley's forces handle this work admirably, capturing all the emotions, and its wide dynamic ranges with seemingly effortless ease, ranging from the touching simplicity of the end of 'I heard a voice from heaven', to the radiant 'Sanctus/I will lift up mine eyes," to the tour de force in the final movement, 'Holy is the True Light.' Kennard and Ainsley are in fine form, although Ainsley occasionally gets lost in the tutti fortissimo passages.
"An English Mass" is an excellent companion, requiring essentially the same forces (with soloists from the choir); it is a much simpler work than his massive "Missa Sabrinensis", but it succeeds equally well on an emotional level.
This is certainly my favorite recording of "Hymnus Paradisi", and I recommend it highly.