ORA Singers, Suzi Digby - O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth Our Queen

Published Friday 29th April 2022
ORA Singers, Suzi Digby - O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth Our Queen
ORA Singers, Suzi Digby  - O Lord, Make Thy Servant Elizabeth Our Queen

STYLE: Choral
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Harmonia Mundi
FORMAT: Digital Only Single

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

The award-winning ORA Singers celebrates the glorious reign of Britain's longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, by releasing two digital singles that draw inspiration from her equally illustrious predecessor, Elizabeth I. ORA has commissioned the renowned British composer and arranger, Bob Chilcott (born 1955), to write a new work based on the iconic 16th century piece by William Byrd (1539/40 - 1623), "O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen". William Byrd, described as the 'father of English Musick', wrote his piece in the 1570s as a musical prayer in tribute of 'Good Queen Bess', and ORA has echoed this by commissioning the former King's Singer Bob Chilcott to write a work with the same words in honour of the Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022: "O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth our Queen to rejoice in thy strength: give her her heart's desire, and deny not the request of her lips; but prevent her with thine everlasting blessing, and give her a long life, even for ever and ever. Amen." These words have been sung in praise of many British monarchs since they were written, with each monarch's name replacing the original. Chilcott's work makes a beautiful companion piece to Byrd's, using the same text so that both pieces praise two of this island's most influential monarchs and create a bridge over nearly half a millennium. Chilcott commented about the piece saying that "This music feels like coming home to me, with its warmth, its security and its constancy, words that perhaps reflect not only Queen Elizabeth the First who William Byrd was honouring some 500 years ago, but also our Queen Elizabeth the Second who we honour today." ORA Singers under Suzi Digby are one of our finest choirs and their policy of commissioning new works, often by up-and-coming composers, is to be applauded. Bob Chilcott needs no introduction to those that enjoy contemporary choral music and his response to the original setting by Byrd manages to sound both ancient and modern. There will doubtless be many and various musical tributes to her majesty in celebration of her platinum jubilee but if any are better than this pair of singles, I will be very much surprised.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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