Solace 1 730x1024 - Songs of Solace

A meditation in music, remembering those lost or suffering in the pandemic

Leeds Minster, LS2 7DJ

Saturday 30 October 2021 4.30pm

Admission free (retiring collection)

Duration: 1 hour

Come and take some space and time for reflection, as St Peter’s Singers sing Songs of Solace – beautiful, poignant, transcendent music – in memory of those who died or suffered during the pandemic.

Songs of Solace mixes outpourings of grief with glimpses of eternity and a vision of hope, expressed in exquisitely beautiful choral music.

Hear my Prayer Henry Purcell
The Burial SentencesWilliam Croft
Lord, let me know mine end Maurice Greene
Bring us O Lord God William Harris
Faire is the HeavenWilliam Harris
RequiemHerbert Howells
Lux AeternaJames MacMillan

St Peter’s Singers

William Campbell organ

Alex Woodrow


Live music once more

Music has a special power of to speak deeply and directly to our emotions. It can thrill and energize, and also soothe, heal and console, touching parts of ourselves that words cannot reach. And this is especially true when performed live amongst people gathered in social settings such as concerts and services. It is a life-force fundamental to our well-being, even survival. And it has been sorely missed.

We are thrilled to be back together, making music again, albeit under changed and in some ways challenging arrangements. We look forward with great hope to a new stage of our journey under the direction of Alex Woodrow.

But we felt that the only appropriate way to restart was actually to take a step backwards into the darkness, and sing the music that was so badly needed during those lockdowns. Timed to take place close to All Souls Day, this meditation in music seeks to create a space helpful to anyone seeking solace in the wake of the pandemic.

The music

The recital opens with Henry Purcell‘s brief but exquisite 8-part invocation, Hear my prayer O Lord, setting the scene for what follows. William Croft’s setting of the Burial Sentences have been sung at moments of national mourning for nearly 300 years, including at the recent funeral of HRH Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. As with Maurice Greene’s Lord, let me know mine end, and Herbert HowellsRequiem, the texts taken from the Book of Common Prayer sustain both a directness and richness of expression and draw on the familiar shared experience of the common funeral liturgy.

William Harris’ exquisite 8-part motets Faire is the Heaven and Bring us, O Lord God, at our last awakening build on the textual riches of Edmund Spenser and John Donne, two of Britain’s finest poets, adding antiphonal rhetoric and dazzling harmonic colours to bring about a truly visionary effect.

Herbert Howells’ Requiem was written in 1932 but not published until 1980. Yet it contains much of the music first heard in Hymnus Paradisi (1935). This work is well-known as the composer’s response to the death of his son Michael. Yet despite predating that traumatic event, the Requiem voices intensely personal grief in some of the finest choral music written in the 20th century.

James MacMillan’s setting of the Lux Aeterna from the Catholic Requiem Mass completes the hour-long recital with a modern day expression of this hope.

Leeds Minster – access and Covid security

Leeds Minster is a large and seemingly well-ventilated building, with sufficient room for you to space out as you wish. So we welcome everyone to this recital, with a simple request that you respect other members of the audience by wearing a face-covering when entering and leaving the building.

Public parking is available on the street and in the car park opposite the Palace Hotel at the eastern end of Leeds Minster. There is also a large NCP car park next to Leeds Markets on the other side of the railway, and the John Lewis carpark slightly further away.

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