18.104.22.168-4.3(2).3.1(0)-timp.perc:cyms/BD-harp(ad lib)-organ(ad lib)-
This is one of a distinguished series of choral works commissioned by the Rev Walter Hussey for performance by the choir of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton (others include Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and Hussey commissioned Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms when his career took him to Chichester Cathedral). In terms of Finzi’s output, this was the longest single span of music he had yet written, and is available in versions with full orchestra or organ. Stephen Banfield in his book on the composer thinks it contains some of Finzi’s finest music, portraying the liturgical drama of the Eucharist in a series of characterful sections commencing with a solemn, almost improvisatory, introduction. Although the work is suitable for both small and large choirs, the voice-parts themselves (all of which divide) need to be well balanced: each is cast into the limelight at some point (some lines may even be sung as a solo) during the piece and there are a few passages of unaccompanied writing, most notably the first, very magical chorus entry. The expressive lines, colourful accompaniment and dramatic choral writing make this a great favourite with choirs. The closing eight-part Amen is one of the most remarkable and poignant pieces of choral writing of its period.