Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”


Our most generous benefactors the schola MUSICA CONTEXTA, again delighted a large audience of some 70 strong with a concert of English Renaissance music from the Eton Choirbook, with a truly inspired performance.  

We are immensely grateful to the singers for the contribution of their skills to the work of Saint John's Hospice, and also to our audience who are so generous with their donations.

The programme was as follows:
John Browne - O Maria Salvatoris Mater a 8
Chant - Hymn: Hostis Herodes impie
William Cornysh - Gaude virgo Mater Christi a 4
Chant - Antiphon: Baptizat miles regem
John Nesbett - Magnificat a 5
John Browne - Salve Regina a 5
Chant - Hymn: Deus creator omnium
William Cornysh - Ave Maria a 4
Chant - Antiphon: Peccata mea Domine
Robert Fayrfax - Magnificat ‘Regale’ a 5
The Director, Simon Ravens, writes:
When we consider its context and history, one question the Eton Choirbook inadvertently asks of us is whether we tend to see our glass as being half empty or half full. In its own time choirbooks such as this must have been relatively common in England. But, with the religious revolution of the Reformation, such books became redundant, either destroyed or sold to book binders for their valuable parchment.  Only two other choirbooks, both much smaller than Eton, survive today. Nor was the Eton book exempt from neglect: to judge from the index, nearly half of the items in the original choirbook were lost by the 1560s, when the remaining folios were rebound. Amongst the lost items are a number of works by John Browne, a truly great composer whose music survives in no other source. In its incomplete state, until the early music revival of the 20th century, for nearly 400 years the book lay virtually undisturbed on the shelves of the college library. In the light of this, are we inclined to lament what is missing from the Eton Choirbook? And widening our vision, do we lament that the surviving items can only represent a tiny fraction of the music composed by what was very evidently a golden age of English composition? Or do we give thanks that such a treasury survived at all?
Whatever conflicting emotions the history of the Eton Choirbook might arouse in us, the overwhelmingly effervescent and extrovert nature of the actual music firmly encourages us to see our glass as half full.