I have a 3 disc LP set from Reader's Digest with the Royal Philharmonic and the Royal Choral Soc. by Sir Malcolm Sargent and that made me try a CD version. The CD version I got was by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Huddersfield Choral Soc.
The first thing I noticed was the slower tempo which I now prefer and the overall quality is superb! As you say, not a click or pop and I too, remember 78's. My favourite track being "Behold The Lamb Of God". The male voices in this recording is better than any other I've heard. That and the slower tempo makes it far superior to any "faster" recording in my opinion.