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- Evening Services in G for Trebles, SATB, and ATB men’s voices (Novello)
- Evening Service in D
- Te Deum in G (Novello)
- In Exile
- They that go down to the sea in ships
- The Holy Birth (Oecumuse)
- Watt’s Cradle Song (from The Holy Birth)
Sumsion was born in Gloucester in 1899, was a chorister in that city, and
became an articled pupil of
Sir Herbert Brewer, the Cathedral Organist. He later studied at the Royal
College of Music before
proceeding to organ and teaching posts in or near London. After a short period
in America (1926-1928)
as Professor of Harmony at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, he
accepted the appointment
of Organist and Master of the Choristers at Gloucester Cathedral on the sudden
death of Brewer. He was
able to take up his duties just in time to conduct the 1928 Three Choirs
Festival, immediately justifying
the confidence placed in him by the high standard of his direction and
musicianship. It was ‘John’ Sumsion’s
performance at that Festival that prompted Sir Edward Elgar’s now-famous
remark: ‘What at the beginning of
the week was assumption has now become a certainty.'
Sumsion was honoured with the Lambeth Doctorate of Music in 1947 and awarded
the CBE in 1961.
He retired from the post at Gloucester Cathedral in 1967 and continued to be
active with teaching and
composition until shortly before his death in 1995. He had a special sympathy
for the works of the
English composers stemming from Vaughan Williams and Elgar, and was responsible
for bringing works
of younger composers to the attention of the British public. It should not be
forgotten that two great
English choral works of this century - Herbert Howells’s Hymnus Paradisi and
Gerald Finzi’s Intimations
of Immortality - received their premieres at the 1950 Gloucester Festival.
These two composers were particularly close friends of Sumsion.
It would follow then that Sumsion’s own compositions are in this same mould,
yet there is a very distinct
style that endears his music to singers and listeners alike. Word setting is
always felicitous and, as might
be expected, the organ accompaniments are imaginative - and playable! Church
music has benefitted
tremendously from his work, for his compositions in this medium have been
prolific and wide-ranging.
(taken from liner notes, CDH55009 English Choral & Organ Music, Hyperion
Records, a "must" for your collection!)
Paul Wigmore wrote three hymn texts in collaboration with
John. That was in 1993. They are published by Oecumuse.
- When rays of that first morning... Tune: ‘Gloucester’
- Day, when creation... Tune: ‘Rodborough Common’
- Peace came at evening... Tune: ‘Hartley’
- O Lord, be with me... Tune: ‘Philadelphia’