Howells – Collegium Regale Magnificat

Choral music twitter has been amusing itself over the last few weeks with a World Cup of Evensong Canticles, which ended today in a nail-biting final between two settings by Howells – his Gloucester Service, and this one, written for King’s College Cambridge. The Gloucester setting was a deserving winner, and probably the connoisseurs’ choice, but my vote went to ‘Coll Reg’ for that unspeakably glorious moment at the start of the Gloria (3’35): those scrumptious organ chords that burst out of near-silence, followed by a soaring treble line that’s basically a shortcut to paradise.

Whenever I get to sing this with friends in a Sunday afternoon cathedral evensong, I feel as if I’m the luckiest person alive. The last time I sang it was in Bristol Cathedral with Voces Usuales, the occasional-cathedral-visiting-choir that I sing with, on a sunny August bank holiday weekend, the perfect ending to what had been a lovely summer holiday.