November 02, 2004
BNC Records
Gospel, Gospel, Inspirational, Latin Gospel, Hymns

Album Review

As a very successful and celebrated songwriter, Beth Nielsen Chapman has never chosen an easy road to that bounty. In fact, she's consistently managed to avoid trite sentimentality in her work. Her voice shines through her songs no matter who's singing them. This project is a departure for Chapman, though it is one she has been at work on in one form or another for nearly a decade. These hymns, mostly sung in Latin, come from a larger project of hymns from the religions of the world. Chapman grew up Catholic, and these songs were part of the pre-Vatican II liturgy. These pieces are scored for multiple voices. Chapman herself sings soprano as a lead vocalist and alto with songwriter Pam Rose, as well as tenor with her son Ernest in chorale. Her father, Robert Nielsen, is one of four bass singers; songwriter Mike Reid is another. While some of these pieces are a cappella, others feature spare accompaniment on stringed instruments from harps to cello to classical guitar. The material comes from the Roman liturgy, whether it be processional hymns such as "Veni Veni Emmanuel" to devotionals such as "Salve Regina" and responsorials such as "Dona Nobis Pacem" and "O Sanctissima." There are two pieces in English, with one of them, "Hymn to Mary," an original. These performances are humble in scope. They do not reflect the awe of the heavens as many classical performances do, but instead a smaller, more human spirituality and grace. They are earthy, humble, and deeply moving for the limit of their scope. These songs portray the response of the human soul speaking to the God who speaks within, rather than the one that echoes thunderously from the margins of the universe. But there is something else here that makes Chapman's recording of these age-old pieces so compelling. The weight of history can make a song, especially a devotional, feel oppressive and constraining -- i.e., it needs to be performed "correctly." Chapman feels no such burden on Hymns. These beautiful antiquities are sung reverently with a simple grace that frees them from their chains and makes them resonate, underscoring their meaning, solace, beauty, and stillness.
Thom Jurek, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Ave Vaernum Corpus
  2. Ave verum Corpus, motet for chorus, strings & organ, K. 618
  3. O come, O come, Emmanuel (Veni, veni, emmanuel), carol
  4. Veni Veni Emmanuel
  5. Tantum Erego
  6. Tantum ergo sacramentum, hymn in mode 3
  7. O salutaris hostia
  8. O Salutaris Hostia
  9. Adoramus Te
  10. Adoramus te
  11. O Sanctissima
  12. O du fröhliche, o du selige, gnadenbringende Weihnachtszeit, carol (tun
  13. Panis angelicus
  14. Panis Angelicus
  15. Salve Regina
  16. Salve regina (tune Salve regina coelitum)
  17. Hymn to Mary
  18. Hymn to Mary
  19. O God of loveliness
  20. Oh God of Loveliness
  21. Dona Nobis Pachem
  22. Dona nobis pacem
  23. Ave Maria
  24. Ellens Gesang III ("Ave Maria"), song for voice & piano, D. 839 (Op. 52
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