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on 21 January 2013
SONGS OF PRAISE: MUCH-LOVED HYMNS, var. artists, issued by BBC music
This collection would seem excellent, a total of 21 tracks from various EMI recordings, covering many well-known and well-loved hymns, with a range of choirs and the occasional soloist. It opens with a (slightly reedy) Amazing Grace; then come favourites like Love Divine All Loves Excelling, Praise My Soul the King of Heaven, Crown Him With Many Crowns, Abide With Me (with all verses), How Great Thou Art; there are classics like All Creatures of Our God and King (Lasst Uns Erfreuen), Thine Be the Glory (Judas Maccabeus), and Blake's Jerusalem, as well as two hymns set to the haunting Slane melody.
And then it happens. Just after the York Minster Choir's delicate rendering of Lord of All Hopefulness (yes, Slane), the otherwise commendable London Community Gospel Choir explodes onto the CD with their definitely not-delicate version of What A Friend We Have in Jesus. Out with the organ and soft soloists, in with the drums, syncopation and boisterous chorus. The mood built up throughout the first 19 tracks is irrevocably shattered, not to be restored even by the mighty Holy, Holy, Holy (Nicaea) with King's College Choir that ends this collection.
A quibble, you might say? But everything has its place. And this bouncy, jazzed-up, syncopated version of What A Friend We Have in Jesus is simply, totally, out of place in these surroundings. Whatever was the mixer at the BBC thinking of?