Somervell studied at King’s College, Cambridge where he was one of Stanford’s early students, he then studied in Berlin for two years before returning to England and studying under Parry at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught. During his lifetime he was best known for his songs and song cycles, choral works written specifically for choral festivals, and several children’s operettas recounting fairy tales. It’s a pity his music is so rarely heard now but his real importance to British music was not so much as a composer or a teacher but as a Civil Servant specialising in the administration of the teaching of music. More than anyone else it was Somervell who championed music in schools and it is to his lifetime of effort that Britain owes the fact that music was established as a ‘proper’ school subject to be treated seriously and studied (and examined) in schools throughout the land. He retired from the Board of Education in 1928 and was awarded a knighthood for his efforts. O Saviour of the World is the collect for the visitation of the sick in English 1 it’s a four-part setting (SATB) with lovely flowing lines moving to a gentle and gracious conclusion. It’s sung below by The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford, conducted by their outgoing director David Crown and accompanied on the organ by Robert Smith at a concert given in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Northampton, Massachusetts, on July 5th 2014. I’ve put the text below the video. Enjoy :-).
Video Source: Arthur Somervell: O Saviour of the World – YouTube Published on 19 Sep 2015 by The Choir of Somerville College, Oxford.
Text: O Saviour of the World
O Saviour of the World,
who by thy cross and precious blood hast redeemed us.
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord.
- the Latin is Salvator mundi, salva nos – mfi. ↩