The songs of A Garland for de la Mare are vintage Howells, in their refinement, harmonic subtleties and dreamlike quality. And although the cover says that there are ten songs in this set, the songbook comprises thirteen songs, including two versions of Before Dawn.
Herbert Howells is a giant of 20th century Anglican church music, the remainder of whose oeuvre is in the process of gaining new appreciation. He was a sensitive composer for Voice and among the very best of his songs are these settings of verses by Walter de la Mare, a personal friend. Howells had frequently discussed the publication of A Garden for de la Mare with Christopher Palmer (author of the major study of the composer’s life), but Palmer died prior to publication and Michael Pilkington saw the project through to completion.