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We needed a little more joy in our day, and who better to present it than VOCES8. Today the vocal group’s 2020 rendition of “Sing Joyfully” by William Byrd brings smiles to any hearer.
VOCES8’s “Sing Joyfully” gives the tune their usual impeccable treatment, making the medieval melody sound far easier to sing than it really is. The cascading melodies is a trademark of the madrigal style, of which Byrd was a master. There are moments when it almost sounds chaotic, only for the singers to suddenly sing in unison.
The performance is made all the better by the stunning scenery of Grace Cathedral. Standing at over 170 feet high, the cathedral’s vaulted ceilings keep VOCES8’s tight harmonies ringing. The group’s street clothes add a certain impromptu feel to the performance. It’s as if they were just visiting and grabbed the opportunity to sing when they had the chance.
Joy lay at the heart of VOCES8’s mission. Their website declares, “The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing.”
VOCES8’s “Sing Joyfully” sourced the hymn’s text from Psalm 84, verses 1-4. The lyrics, which can sometimes be hard to make out, are:
Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob!
Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol.
Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.