BROOMDASHER – Ingrave Epiphany (Clean Sweep CS0122)

Ingrave EpiphanyFollowing on from their Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady project and released to coincide with their From Pub To Pulpit tour with Coracle and the choirs and organists of assorted churches and cathedrals celebrating Vaughan Williams’ 150th birthday and the music he transformed from folk songs into hymns, Ingrave Epiphany is essentially two EPs for the price of one. Taking its title from how Vaughan Williams described his reaction on hearing Essex labourer Charles Potiphar sing several traditional songs when he visited his Ingrave home on Dec 4, 1903, the catalyst for his subsequent hymnals, the first comprises six studio recordings by the a capella quintet, kicking off with Jon Boden’s arrangement of ‘Spencer The Rover’ with Richard Cryan taking lead. That’s followed with Cryan on recorder solo and Deena Marcus-Jedamzik and Jo Swinhoe leading their arrangement of ‘Linden Lea’, the latter taking the solo spotlight for Cryan’s arrangement of ‘Lovely on The Water’.

She’s then joined by Margaret Moore and Marcus-Jedamzik for a rousing take on ‘Lowlands Of Holland’ arranged by Sarah Morgan with Cryan returning to centre stage for his own arrangement of ‘The Ploughboy’s Dream’ (the melody following ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’) before Moore takes lead on ‘Bushes And Briars’, the song that promoted the aforesaid epiphany.

The second part of the album comprises six live tracks (with impressive sound quality) from the tour, the original folk song followed by the hymn variation with the full choir and organ works variously at Kingsfold, Danby and Monk’s Gate, opening with Chris Hayes taking lead on ‘The Murder Of Maria Marten’ segueing into ‘I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say’ with the full choir and organ works, Hayes also sings lead on ‘Our Captain Calls/He Who Would Valiant Be’, while sandwiched between Swinhoe takes charge of the perhaps lesser known ‘Brisk Young Farmer’ (or sailor in some variants) which evolves into ‘The Winter Now The Fallen Snow’, Vaughan Williams’ setting of the words by American hymn writer Samuel Longfellow (the brother of poet Henry) from 1864’s Hymns of the Spirit.

If you caught any of the tour performances, Ingrave Epiphany makes for a solid memento as well as offering the group’s interpretations of the songs that Vaughan Williams collected and set his imagination alight, but it also stands a highly enjoyable and significant work in its own right.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

‘Lowlands Of Holland’ – live: