Cherished Hymns of the Forefathers - 2DVD and CD set

Cherished Hymns of the Forefathers - 2DVD and CD set

Peter Donald

(ABC, 2007, DVDs/CD, $34.95. Available from Freedom Publishing)

Cherished Hymns of the Forefathers is a Special Edition boxed set containing a wealth of programs from the TV series Hymns of the Forefathers Series I and II presented by one of Australia's favourite classical music presenters, Christopher Lawrence.

The set comprises two DVD discs and a bonus 14 hymn CD of the orchestral and choral soundtrack from the series Hymns of the Forefathers.

The first disc contains six half hour episodes including some of the most powerful and emotive hymns ever written. Amazing Grace, Abide With Me, How Great Thou Art, O God Our Help In Ages Past and Nearer My God To Thee are included in the selection - all genuine classics of English Christianity.

The second disc features a documentary, introduced and narrated by Lawrence, starting on the Sydney foreshore and then moving to the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, where Oxford University began. The architectural journey includes St Paul's, Canterbury and Salisbury Cathedrals, Westminster and Bath Abbeys and the ruins of the magnificent Tintern Abbey, interspersed with lesser known churches and glimpses of London and the English and Welsh countryside. Beauty provides major inspiration for the writing of sublime music.

The discs provide a fascinating exploration of England's religious music heritage from the 18th and 19th centuries and enable the listener to discover the histories of some of the world's most loved and influential sacred music.

Biographies of composers and lyricists are interwoven with little known stories behind their creation. For example, the redemption of the 18th century slave-trader, John Newton, inspired two significant outcomes: the abolition of slavery by the English Parliament in 1807, achieved by Newton's friend, William Wilberforce, and the text for one of the world's most famous hymns, Amazing Grace.

Australian composer and conductor, Paul Terracini, has written magnificent full-scale orchestral arrangements for the hymns in the style of the Romantic composers of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Backed by the superb Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Vox Ecclesia Chorus, this is a powerful combination guaranteed to keep listeners awake.

Cherished Hymns of the Forefathers will be enjoyed by those with an interest in fine classical music and church history and architecture, with the added attraction of superb British country scenery.

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