The English Anthem (c1830-1900)
The words 'pure' and 'fervently' emerge from Wesley's Blessed be the God and stick in the mind. They describe the boys' tone perfectly. Not that there is anything precious about them—utterly the reverse. They are hard-edged and bright as silver buttons, an innocent sound which is entirely delightful. It is well matched by the youthful men, with their admirably clear diction. The Wesley anthem is well done, but I think the last chorus needs to enjoy itself a bit more. Stainer's I saw the Lord also seems shy of letting its hair down and the sense of drama is lost.
The Ouseley pieces are very pious unless injected with a little earthiness. They seemed too polite here. But I did enjoy Wesley's Wilderness and Stanford's quite jaunty. The Lord is my shepherd. Stanford never hesitated to show the Psalmist a thing or two, and I'm glad Magdalen are willing to egg him on. Incidentally, there seems to be a different acoustic for I saw the Lord, doubtless a change of position for the double-choir effect, and the clarity went on the blink. A very good record.'