Henry Aldrich: Sacred Choral Music


Henry Aldrich’s Sacred Choral Music, performed by The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford, conducted by James Morley Potter, with organist David Bannister and The Restoration Consort.


About this release

Priest, architect and composer Henry Aldrich was a key figure in the musical life of seventeenth- century Oxford. A recording of his choral music, with its wide range of influences from Byrd to Purcell, is presented here by one of the choirs of the college of which he was Dean: Christ Church, Oxford. “This striking survey of music by Henry Aldrich reveals him to be a significant figure in 17th-century English musical life, with a characterful compositional voice. The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church bring this neglected music back to life in great style, with energy and commitment.”

— Dr Stephen Darlington MBE

Commissioned Programme Note

Henry Aldrich was born on 15 January, 1648 at Westminster, where as a boy he attended Westminster School and was chosen as a King’s Scholar in 1658. He matriculated in 1662, and was elected to the Westminster Scholarship to Christ Church. Aldrich graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1666 and a Master of Arts in 1669, entering Holy Orders about this time. While at Oxford, he may have received formal musical training from Edward Lowe, who held a position as professor of music at Oxford until his death in 1682. Aldrich was appointed canon in 1682, having proceeded Bachelor of Divinity and Doctorate of Divinity that same year.

On April 4, 1689 Aldrich was installed as the Dean of Christ Church, succeeding John Massey, a Catholic. Massey, who three years earlier had been appointed Dean by James II, was forced to make an abrupt departure from Oxford the previous November due to the escalation of anti-Catholic tensions at Oxford.

As a canon at Christ Church, Aldrich had actively worked to oppose James II’s attempts to Catholicise Oxford.

In addition to his three years as the Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1692 to 1695, and the twenty-one years served as Dean, Aldrich distinguished himself as a logician, skilled architect, competent musician, and composer of predominantly sacred music used in cathedral services at Christ Church. During the 1690s, he was closely involved with the cathedral music programme both as a singing man and as a composer. He was also known to hold regular musical gatherings in his rooms at college where the incentive for an on-time arrival for rehearsals was the service of drinks following the meeting.

Aldrich died in London on 14 December 1710 after a brief illness, and his body was brought back to Oxford on 22 December and interred in the north choir aisle of Christ Church Cathedral. Read more

About the artists

James Morley Potter

An experienced conductor of choral and orchestral repertoire, James’s regular positions include Director of Wokingham Choral Society, Music Director of Jubilate Chamber Choir, Director of the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford, and Director of Music at St Mary’s Church, Battersea.

Highlights of the 2018/19 season have included performances of Dvorak Stabat mater, Mozart Requiem, and BernsteinChichester Psalms. An advocate of new music, he works regularly with Cantata Dramatica, including as the conductor of the recent world premiere performance of Nick Bicât Akathistos in St Stephen Walbrook, London, and as conductor of premiere recordings of music by Solfa Carlile.

A prize-winning recipient of the Choral Directing Diploma of the Royal College of Organists, he teaches conducting at Hertford College, Oxford, and has given workshops for the Oxford University Continuing Education Department and the Choral Institute at Oxford.

An enthusiastic musical communicator, he is frequently commissioned to write programme notes and essays for leading ensembles including The Tallis Scholars, The Eric Whitacre Singers, and others.

James read Music at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, and subse- quently sang professionally for the Choirs of Magdalen College under Daniel Hyde and Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, under Stephen Darlington, appearing on broadcasts and recordings including the Gramophone Award-nominated Eton Choirbook series.

David Bannister

David Bannister is currently Organist to the Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford, where he plays for daily services, assists in the direction of the choir, and acts as mentor to the Organ Scholars. He is Choir Director at St John’s College, Oxford, and Master of the Music at Pusey House.

As an organist, he has performed and recorded with a range of groups, including The King’s Singers and Charivari Agréable.

David is also founding Director of the professional vocal ensemble, Vespri Segreti, who perform a wide range of predominantly early choral repertoire.

He continues his organ studies with Stephen Farr, Director of Music, St Paul’s Knightsbridge.

Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford

The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church is one of the most active choirs of its type in the country. A mixed-voice, voluntary choir, its main role is to maintain Christ Church Cathedral’s daily pattern of sung worship at times when the main Cathedral Choir is away or on vacation. The choir comprises talented amateur musicians from the local area, from young professionals to professorial fellows. Its repertoire spans from Renaissance polyphony to new music.

In addition to its liturgical duties, the choir’s activities extend to concerts, tours, recordings, workshops, and visits to sing services at other UK cathedrals. The choir also has an educational role, sponsoring Sixth Form Choral Scholarships, and participating in Faculty of Music examinations for the University. In July 2018, the choir celebrated its 40th anniversary.

  • O give thanks - Henry Aldrich
  • The Lord is King - Henry Aldrich
  • All people that on earth do dwell - Henry Aldrich
  • O God, thou art my God - Henry Aldrich
  • God is our hope and strength - Henry Aldrich
  • O Lord our Governor - Henry Aldrich
  • Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints - Henry Aldrich
  • Magnificat; Service in F major - Henry Aldrich
  • Nunc dimittis; Service in F major - Henry Aldrich
  • O sing unto the Lord - Henry Aldrich
  • O praise the Lord, all ye heathen - Henry Aldrich
  • I will love thee, O Lord - Henry Aldrich
  • Out of the deep - Henry Aldrich
  • Give ear, O Lord - Henry Aldrich
  • Be not wroth - Henry Aldrich
  • Conveniunt doctae sorores; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
  • Instrumental Suite: Opening; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
  • Instrumental Suite: Gavot; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
  • Instrumental Suite: Menuet; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
  • Instrumental Suite: Lancashire Hornpipe; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
  • Instrumental Suite: Brouch; Music for the Oxford Act 1682 - Henry Aldrich
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Catalogue number: CR052

Conductor James Morley Potter
Organ David Bannister
Choir The Cathedral Singers of Christ Church, Oxford
Consort The Restoration Consort
Engineering & Editing Adaq Khan
Mastering Adaq Khan
Recording Locations Merton College Chapel, Oxford
Producer Stephen Rice
Music Editor Dr Dean Jobin-Bevans
Programme Notes Dr Dean Jobin-Bevans
Artist Photography
Mike Cooter
Cover Image Henry Aldrich. Used by permission Dean & Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford
Creative Director Mike Cooter
Executive Producer Adrian Green

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