Review: 2018

Goodall - Eternal Light 11 Nov 18 review :

The Healing Power of Music

Amongst the parades and poppies in this 100th anniversary year of the Armistice, communities have been coming together all over the country to mark the act of remembrance through music. St Paul's Honiton was no exception on Sunday 11 November, as the Sheldon Singers gave a performance in aid of military welfare charity The Baton. For those in the full church pews that evening, we shared a memorable and compassionate testimony to those who served, those who lost their lives, and those left behind.

Howard Goodall's composition Eternal Light was commissioned in 2008 and has received countless performances since then, making it his most popular choral composition. Sheldon Singers conductor Julie de'Ath Lancaster said it was one of her choir's favourites too, evident in their excellent and emotive delivery of the piece. The music sets a careful selection of the traditional Latin text of the Requiem with powerful poetry spanning 500 years.

While the choir delivered the core texts of the Requiem (including the astonishing, hammering insistence of the Dies Irae, day of wrath), the soloists emerged from the choir lines to deliver Goodall's profoundly moving settings of texts including In Flanders Fieldsand Lead Kindly Light in his understated style that is unmistakably English. Peter Stradling's baritone solo in the 5th movement Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there - I did not die was particularly affecting; tenor Leslie Baker's litany of simplicity and tenderness, believing that life has meaning somehow; the climax of the final movement crowned by the effortless soprano Josie Walledge amid the circling doom. And de'Ath Lancaster controlled the enthusiasm of her forces just enough to allow the soloists to soar above the background harmonies. Credit also needs to be paid to accompanist Paul Hockey who mastered the orchestral reduction.   

The short concert (running at less than an hour to make way for the bell ringers joining towers across the country for a 7pm peal), also featured David Ogden's All Shall Be Wellwhich sets 14th century text by Julian of Norwich. A worthy sentiment to close a day which calls for words of comfort and calm.

The event raised more than £350 for The Baton and you can still make a donation online at

Kate Burrough