Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
Director of Music: 
Andrew Nethsingha
Organ Scholar: 
James Anderson-Besant
Release date: 
February 2020
  • Soloists: Alfred Harrison, Harry L'Estrange, Thomas Watkin (treble); Hugh Cutting (countertenor); Gopal Kambo (tenor); Oliver Morris (bass)
Record label: 
St John's Cambridge/Signum
Catalogue number: 

Ash Wednesday is the first album on the 'St John's Cambridge' label to present a live service broadcast in its entirety. The album features our 2019 Ash Wednesday Evensong, in which we performed the Preces and Responses and Ne irascaris by Byrd, Thomas Weelkes' The Short Service, J.S. Bach's Organ Prelude in E Minor BVW 548i, and Gregorio Allegri's Miserere Mei, Deus. This music is interspersed with the spoken elements of Evensong, including the two 'Lessons' from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Evensong on Ash Wednesday marks the penitential season of Lent. The service is a highlight of the Choir's year, and it has been broadcast regularly by the BBC since 1972.

The Organ Scholar performing on this album is James Anderson-Besant, who has also written the programme notes for this album (available to read from the Download CD Booklet button above).

Track list

  1. The Preces (William Byrd)
  2. Miserere mei, Deus (Gregorio Allegri)
  3. The First Lesson (Isaiah 1 vv. 10-18)
  4. Magnificat 'The Short Service' (Thomas Weelkes)
  5. The Second Lesson (Luke 15 vv. 11-end)
  6. Nunc Dimittis 'The Short Service' (Thomas Weelkes)
  7. The Aposles' Creed
  8. The Responses (William Byrd)
  9. Ne irascaris, Domine (William Byrd)
  10. The Prayers
  11. Prelude in E Minor, BWV 548i (J.S. Bach)



It's the most glorious music-making

Jeremy Summerly, BBC Radio 3 Record Review

★★★★★ This CD captures perfectly the special atmosphere... it's as if the live occasion spurs them on to even greater heights

Choir & Organ

The malleable, sensitive trebles have what seems to me an unparalleled ability to invest text and phrase with meaning

Andrew Mellor, Gramophone

★★★★★ A combination of fervancy and clarity that is always impressive and uniquely well suited to this particular project

James Manheim AllMusic

Above all, the 'Miserere mei, Deus' by Allegri and Byrd's overwhelming motet 'Ne Irascaris, Domine' get under the skin, as indeed does Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Prelude in E minor', heard at the end


★★★★ This disc has a transportive quality. The choir moves as one, with stunning top tenor lines. Glistening and ethereal throughout

BBC Music Magazine

The audio quality is excellent...some outstanding singing, especially from the trebles...this is a pleasant listen and yet again Director Andrew Nethsingha has got some beautiful singing from this choir. If you want to hear how good an Anglican Ash Wednesday service can sound this release will show you

Stephen Whitehead, Cross Rhythms

More about this release

Share this

Latest webcast

Recorded on
9 March 2024


A Meditation on the Passion of Christ is a service of music and readings reflecting on the Passion of Christ. This year the service features music by Byrd, Purcell, Weelkes and MacMillan, as well as the final piece of a triptych of works written for the choir by Joanna Marsh.

Latest news

Magnificat 4 includes two commissions written specially for the Choir of St John's College; Jonathan Dove's 2022 canticle setting St John's Service, and Judith Weir's 2011 service of the same name.

Winner of the 2008 Ivor Novello Award for classical music, Jonathan Dove CBE has composed a broad range of works and is one of the most successful British composers today. 

Jonathan was kind enough to share insights into his St John's Service, the compositional process, and what we can look forward to in the future.

The commitment, projection and natural energy of this choir have never failed to inspire me

Organists’ Review