About this work
The second of three Carol-Anthems for unaccompanied mixed chorus composed in 1918-1920, A Spotless Rose is typical of the early choral works of English composer Herbert Howells. Taking the lithesome wistfulness and melodic purity of Elgar, the deep sensual nostalgia and warm choral writing of Delius, the agnostic spiritual exaltation of Vaughan Williams, and combining these with his own modally inflected harmonies and his lucid yet luminous textures, Howells created his first characteristic masterpiece. It also prefigured his future path as a composer: although Howells also composed many superb songs and several large scale orchestral pieces, he was the most prolific composer of music for the English church in the twentieth century.
Curated by Chanda VanderHart, Pianist and Musicologist