Guest blog: Christopher Ouvry Johns, Director of Music at Leicester Cathedral, discusses some of the music being used in the Reinterment of Richard III

 Philip Moore
Philip Moore, Organist Emeritus, York Minster

An anthem by York composer, Dr Philip Moore, will be sung at the service of Reinterment of King Richard III in Leicester Cathedral next Thursday, 26 March. Philip was Organist and Master of the Music at York Minster from 1983-2008 and is now Organist Emeritus of the Minster. His setting of Psalm 150 ‘O praise God in his holiness’ is an adaptation of a much longer work written in 2007 for the Exultate Singers of Bristol.

He has reworked the piece for the Reinterment service by incorporating the medieval antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ (which would have accompanied the psalm in medieval liturgies) and adding parts for the same instruments as Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir has used in her arrangement of the National Anthem, which will be premiered at the same service.

Christopher Ouvry Johns
Christopher Ouvry-Johns, Director of Music, Leicester Cathedral

Cathedral Director of Music Dr Christopher Ouvry-Johns said: “Finding the right setting of psalm 150 was one of the most difficult parts of planning the music for the Reinterment and I’m much indebted to Philip for the considerable work he’s put into revising the piece. This is possibly the most joyful and exuberant of all the psalms and while Christian belief in life after death means that there is rightly an element of hope in the service, it was important that this shouldn’t eclipse the solemn and dignified nature of the occasion.

While the lively rhythms of the main body of the piece conjure up images of celebration, even dancing, the inclusion of the antiphon ‘Omnis spiritus’ from the Bangor Pontifical (a 14th-century manuscript) at the start and the end of the piece put that celebratory atmosphere in an appropriate context. Indeed, what could be more appropriate for the 21st-century burial of a medieval monarch than a 21st-century composition incorporating medieval music?”

Psalm 150
Psalm 150

Philip Moore said “It is a great honour and privilege to have been asked to contribute to this unique and historic service, most especially because of my intimate association with York. I was delighted when Dr Ouvry-Johns asked if he could see my setting of Psalm 150.

Although the adaptations I have made are considerable, I enjoyed revisiting the anthem and the chance to add parts for four horns was a refreshing challenge. I am sad not to able to attend the service in person, but on my recent visit to a choir practice at Leicester Cathedral I was thrilled to see how well the choir was singing the work”.

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