Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

The Hymn to St. Peter was written in 1955 for the Quincentenary of St. Peter Mancroft in Norwich, England.  The work draws on a text taken from the Gradual of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, with its associated plainsong.  This plainsong ‘Tu es Petrus’ is loudly declaimed on the organ in unison before the choir’s first entry. The middle section, written as a scherzo, calls to mind Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia written some thirteen years earlier. The final fuses the ancient and modern. A contemplative soprano solo recalls the plainsong theme in Latin, juxtaposed with soft choral interjections in English, revealing Britten’s singular harmonic language.

©Ryan Turner

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