The Hymn Makers: Arthur Seymour Sullivan - Nearer, My God, To Thee / Format: Audio CD / Scottish Festival Singers / Organist: John Langdon / Soloists: Staphanie Lewis and Morag Campbell / Conductor: Ian McCrorie

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The Hymnmakers

Nearer, my God, to Thee

Hymns of Arthur Sullivan

Scottish Festival Singers
Organist: John Langdon

Soloists: Staphanie Lewis and Morag Campbell

Conductor: Ian McCrorie

Kingsway Music: KMCD 2277.
Compact disc
Biography, texts, and historical information 18 pages inserted in case.


This CD presents fourteen of Sullivan's 60+ hymns. (See the complete list of Sullivan's hymns.) The publisher, Kingsway, specializes in religious recordings, this selection being part of a series called "The Hymnmakers." The choral singing is first-rate, offering a wonderful introduction to this neglected facet of Sullivan's oeuvre. The vast majority of Sullivan's hymns were written before 1875, when his partnership with Gilbert took him in other directions and he no longer needed to write this type of music for money.


The accompanying notes (not credited, although I believe the Rev'd Ian Bradley wrote them) offer a wealth of detail. The words of all the tunes are supplied, along with a short essay about each hymn and a longer essay about the hymns generally. It is especially gratifying to find a note-writer who accepts the variability in Sullivan's output:


It is impossible to listen to or sing Sullivan's greatest hymn tunes without feeling that they are the work of a man with deep spiritual feelings, if not of conventional religiosity. It is certainly true that Sullivan's hymn tunes are exceedingly variable in quality — when they are bad, they are very, very bad. But when they are good, and what I regard as the best of them are collected on this album, they have an extraordinary ability to enhance the spiritual power and message of the texts.


The final hymn in this compilation, "The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended," is usually attributed to the Anglican clergyman Clement Scholefield. The tune ("St. Clement") became one of the most popular of the Victorian era. However, it appeared in Church Hymns and Tunes, which Sullivan edited, and in the preface to that volume Sullivan admits that the various hymn composers had adopted many of his suggestions on melody and harmony. Those responsible for this CD feel that "St. Clement" is so suggestive of Sullivan, and the tune so far above anything else that Scholefield wrote, that it can and should fairly be attributed to Sullivan



1. Onward! Christian soldiers Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) St. Gertrude
2. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) Lux Eoi
3. Hushed was the evening hymn James Drummond Burns (1823-1864) Samuel
4. To Thee, O Lord, our hearts we raise William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) Golden Sheaves
5. Nearer, my God, to Thee Sarah Flower Adams (1805-1848) Propior Deo
6. Lead, kindly Light John Henry Newman (1801-1890) Lux in Tenebris
7. Courage, brother! Do not stumble Norman Macleod (1812-1872) Courage, Brother
8. "For My sake and the gospel's, go" Edward Henry Bickersteth (1825-1906) Bishopgarth
9. Safe home tr. John Mason Neale (1818-1866) Safe Home
10. Angel voices, ever singing Francis Pott (1832-1909) Angel Voices
11. I'm but a stranger here Thomas Rawson Taylor (1807-1835) St. Edmund
12. Lord, in this Thy mercy's day Isaac Wiliams (1802-1865) Lacrymae
13. Who trusts in God, a strong abode tr. Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1804-1889) Constance
14. The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended John Ellerton (1826-1893) St. Clement

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