Earth’s Wide Bounds

Communion Service in G minor
Nocturne: By The Bivouac’s Fitful Flame
Hymns and anthems

Albion Records presents William Vann (director) with the Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in a recording of choral works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, including two important premieres. 

The centrepiece here is the first complete recording of the Communion service in G minor – the 1923 English translation and revision of the Latin Mass in G minor which had been published just a year earlier. In keeping with the 1662 Anglican communion service then in use, the Gloria comes at the end; the service begins with sung responses to the ten commandments, read for us here by Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Just two movements from the service have been recorded before – the Creed and the Sanctus, which were sung at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Five of the movements require a quartet as well as a double chorus. William Vann has confidence in every member of his Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, so each of those movements has a different quartet, thus giving individual voice to 20 of the choristers. 

It is surprising that By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame, the Walt Whitman setting, has lain neglected in manuscript for so long. This lovely setting for unaccompanied chorus started life as a Ballade for quintet in 1904 and was revised as a Nocturne, still for quintet, in 1906. The choral version must have come soon afterwards, thus representing the next stage in the experiment. 

Valiant-for-Truth is a popular work, written in November 1940. That date, when the war was by no means going well for Britain, may be the key to the selection of the text. Mr Valiant-for-Truth had fought three ‘rogues’ and emerged scarred but victorious, ‘and the trumpets all sounded for him on the other side.’

Vaughan Williams’s great setting of For All the Saints is one of a number of hymns on this album and inspired the title, which we felt was broad enough to encompass not just the ‘church’ music here, but also the Walt Whitman American Civil War poem that concludes it. The album also includes the Te Deum in G and several anthems.




This is a marvellous disc in every respect. Every piece in the programme is a choice example of VW’s choral music. The performances are consistently superb. …It would not surprise me if this is the finest VW disc I hear during the composer’s 150th anniversary year.

John Quinn MusicWeb International
(To read a full review please click here.)

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  1. Te Deum in G 6’47
  2. For All the Saints Who from Their Labours Rest 4’23
  3. O Clap Your Hands 3’06
  4. Monk’s Gate: He Who Would Valiant Be 2’00

Communion Service in G Minor (adapted by Maurice Jacobson)

First Recording

    1. Responses to Commandments 5’50
    2. Kyrie 4’09
    3. Creed 7’05
    4. Sanctus 2’35
    5. Benedictus 2’18
    6. Agnus Dei 3’39
    7. Gloria in Excelsis 4’01Total Communion Service 29’37
          1. Kingsfold: I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say 2’15
          2. O Taste and See (solo: Leah Jackson) 1’25
          3. Picardy: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence 3’03
          4. Prayer to the Father of Heaven 5’25
          5. King’s Lynn: O God of Earth and Altar 2’12
          6. Antiphon: Let All the World in Every Corner Sing 3’07
          7. Down Ampney: Come Down, O Love Divine 3’16
            1. Valiant-for-Truth 5’50
              1. Nocturne: By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame 5’39

First Recording

Total recording time 78’05

William Vann, director
Dr. Rowan Williams (track 5)
Joshua Ryan, organ (tracks 1-5, 12-14 and 16-18)
Choir of the Chapel of the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Eloise Irving, Leah Jackson, Katy Hill, Jenni Harper, Helen Ashby, Kate Ashby, Esther Mallett (sopranos), Rosemary Clifford, Clara Kanter, Charlie Morris, Emma Ashby, Eleanor Minney (altos), Jonathan Beatty, Jonathan Hanley, Tom Castle, Joseph Doody, Simon Wall (tenors), Adrian Horsewood, Angus McPhee, Thomas Stoddart, James Arthur, Nathan Harrison, Nicholas Ashby (basses)

Nicholas Tall, registration assistant


Musical director: William Vann
Producer: Andrew Walton
Engineer: Deborah Spanton
Assistant Engineer: Lauren Cave

The recording was made at St. Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London on October 22-23, 2020 and on June 17, 2021

By the Bivouac’s Fitful Flame was transcribed from the manuscript by P J Clulow

Executive producer: John Francis

Vaughan Williams Earth’s Wide Bounds
Release Date: 4 March 2022
(CD, downloads, streaming up to 24 bits)