Greg Starr | Cantum Laudus: Songs of Praise

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Cantum Laudus: Songs of Praise

by Greg Starr

Contemporary Interpretations of timeless hymn tunes, from the middle ages to today. Reflective, relaxing, tranquil, a wonderful collection for quiet meditation and introspection.
Genre: New Age: Meditation
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  Song Share Time Download
1. All Things Bright and Beautiful
4:16 $0.99
2. Jesus Shall Reign
4:18 $0.99
3. For the Beauty of the Earth
3:08 $0.99
4. Be Thou My Vision
4:10 $0.99
5. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
3:22 $0.99
6. Jesus Loves Me
4:04 $0.99
7. Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life
2:40 $0.99
8. Come Thou Fount
3:56 $0.99
9. Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word
3:40 $0.99
10. Give Me Jesus
3:55 $0.99
11. Morning Has Broken
4:25 $0.99
12. I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say
3:45 $0.99
13. What Wondrous Love Is This
4:22 $0.99
14. Beautiful Saviour
3:13 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
A new twist on songs that date back to the Middle Ages! Cantum Laudus: songs of praise is an album of Greg’s distinct and unique interpretations of traditional hymn tunes. Beginning over twenty years ago, he began his journey with these songs, using them as a basis for his captivating, spontaneous arranging style. Finally recorded in fixed form, his long exploration of these tunes will not disappoint! Let Greg take you on a journey, exploring the depths of these songs as he fills both your hearts and minds with this relaxing and thoughtful album of solo piano music.

The album cover features a photo taken by David Scott Allen of a stained glass window from Valley Presbyterian Church in Phoenix AZ by artist Robert McCall, whose work can be seen in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., as well as U.S. Postage Stamps and the movie posters for 2001: A Space Odyssey



to write a review

Candice Michelle

Review from Journeyscapes Radio
“Cantum Laudus” (subtitled “Songs of Praise”) is a collection of fourteen timeless hymns dating back to the middle-ages by pianist-composer Greg Starr. Released on Quiet Rain Music, these inspirational passages are intended to sooth, relax and bring comfort to one’s spirit. Rendered entirely on solo piano, roughly half of the compositions date back to the 1800s, with the earliest piece in the collection dating all the way back to circa 530-598 in Ireland.

The album opens with a solo piano rendition of an English folk song from the 1600’s titled “Royal Oak (All Things Bright and Beautiful)”. Led by a flowing and radiant melody, the piece conveys the warmth and optimism of a clear-blue day, as the sun’s rays reflect upon a pastoral landscape. It’s one in a handful of more celebratory and lively pieces on the album, which are interspersed with more lulling and slower-placed numbers such as “Duke Street”, “Nicaea” and “The Call”. Also included on the album is the widely popular “Jesus Loves Me”, a piece that was originally written in 1861. Here Greg lends a waltzing, almost bluesy touch to this classic hymn, which has long brought much peace and comfort to many children and churchgoers for more than a century-and-a-half. One of my favorite hymns on the album is “Nettleton (Come Thou Fount)”, which dates back to 1825. Initially opening with ringing droplets in high register notes, the composition soon gives way to a gentle and inspirational melody that brings images to mind of a rural countryside. “Bunessan (Morning Has Broken)” is another one of my favorites – a traditional Gaelic melody that was first published in Lachlan Macbean’s “Songs and Hymns of the Gael” in 1888. Intervals of suspended notes help to carefully move the composition along, as its lower register keys exude a definitively calming mood. However, I ultimately found the album’s pinnacle moment on the second-to-last track, which is aptly titled “Wondrous Love (What Wondrous Love Is This)”. This heavenly hymn bodes a majestic yet perfectly understated quality, seeming to unfold in slow motion like that of a delicate flower blooming. Originally collected by W. Walker and published in “Southern Harmony” in 1835, the author of this beautifully mysterious composition serendipitously remains unknown.

While listening to this album it’s easy to imagine one playing these songs on the stage of an old stained-glass chapel, with Greg’s piano exuding a rich and lovely tone throughout its elegant passages. Sure to inspire many listeners with peace, comfort, joy and hope, “Cantum Laudus” is especially recommended for those who enjoy both soothing solo piano and sacred instrumental music.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"Cantum Laudus" is a collection of fourteen hymns arranged for solo piano and performed by Greg Starr. The songs are listed by their original titles, but Starr identifies them by their hymn names in the cover notes along with the composers and the approximate dates the pieces were written. Several of the songs are frequently-heard gems like “Be Thou My Vision,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and “Jesus Loves Me,” but Starr has managed to bring a new freshness to each one. The arrangements are mostly quiet and prayerful, focusing on the beauty of the melodies and expressing the meaning of the songs without the use of words. This is Greg Starr’s fourth album, and I’m sure that fans of solo piano will embrace "Cantum Laudus" whether or not they are familiar with these hymns. I love the simplicity of the arrangements and the grace with which they are performed. The cover artwork is also exceptional!

"Cantum Laudus" begins with “Royal Oak (All Things Bright and Beautiful),” a hymn built around an English folk song from the 1600’s. Gentle and warmly inviting, it’s a lovely opening track. “Duke Street (Jesus Shall Reign)” begins with a single repeated note behind the melody, and becomes more flowing in the second verse, reverting to the single repeated note and melody near the end - a gorgeous arrangement! “For the Beauty of the Earth” is a favorite hymn of many people, expressing gratitude for the wonders of the natural world. “Slane (Be Thou My Vision)” is another very popular hymn, but Starr makes it his own, keeping it open and heartfelt. I was surprised to learn that this song goes back to about 530-598 in Ireland. “Jesus Loves Me” is one of the first hymns most children learn, and Starr’s arrangement begins very simply for the first stanza, becoming a slow and soulful gospel piece - a favorite! “Erhalt Uns, Herr (Lord, Keep Us Steadfast In Your Word)” was a new hymn for me. Dating back to the 1500’s, it is more melancholy than most of the other songs, and Starr’s expressive interpretation flows from the heart - another favorite! “Give Me Jesus” is an African-American spiritual that works wonderfully as a piano solo. Many people think of the 1971 Cat Stevens hit when they hear “Morning is Broken,” but this nugget goes back to the 1800’s. Starr’s arrangement includes a very effective use of the damper pedal to create the feeling of space and openness - beautiful! The tune for “Kingsfold (I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say)” is thought to date back to the Middle Ages. Haunting in its dark richness, this is my favorite song on the album. “Schonster Herr Jesu (Beautiful Savior),” also known as “Fairest Lord Jesus,” brings this excellent album to a close with a warm message of love and hope.

"Cantum Laudus" is a soothing and uplifting collection of solo piano hymns that everyone can relate to and enjoy. Highly recommended!

Enlightened Piano Radio

Reviewed by Darla Bower
Greg Starr has a varied and interesting background in music, from transcribing the debut album of Milli Vanilli (the once famous lip-syncing duo) to working with Mr. Rogers, one of my childhood favorites. Cantum Laudus is a collection of fourteen interpretations of hymns and songs of praise dating from the middle ages to the early 20th Century. I admire the fact that several lesser known hymns are also included. I think it’s important to note that the artist’s goal for the album was to focus on the musical content of each hymn and allow that content to dictate the arrangement. Every arrangement was done extemporaneously which requires the skill and dedication of a talented artist. The cover boasts a beautiful photo of a stained glass window that resides in the Valley Presbyterian Church in Phoenix, AZ by artist Robert McCall. This stunning photo was taken by David Scott Allen. The cover lends to the mystery of a Divine encounter that is artistically and thoughtfully proclaimed in each arrangement. Many of these tracks are recognizable interpretations of hymns such as Jesus Loves Me. The Latin phrase cantum laudus means “songs of praise.” So with this album we can join in the praise.
The album begins with Royal Oak, a sweet melody that beckons you to listen further. Royal Oak is a 17th century melody presumably named for a tree at Bosocobel, Shropshire, England. As the title implies it leaves an impression of royalty being revealed with its stately and strong melody. Greg’s interpretation of this melody conveys the message of royalty and is a great way to herald the beginning journey through praise. Duke Street is one of my absolute favorites on the album. This may be known to some by the titles Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun or I Know That My Redeemer Lives. (Throughout the album, track titles are tune titles and not text titles. Different church denominations often have different texts set to the same hymn tunes.) Over twenty hymn texts have been set to this tune. I absolutely love the repeating pattern in the left hand that is woven throughout this arrangement. Also loved the gentle flow of the ending. This is a wonderful and a lesser known hymn in my opinion. Thank you for the reminder of this lovely melody. My other favorite on the album was the hymn Nicaea -or better known to me as Holy, Holy, Holy. My experience with this hymn relates to the ending of religious gatherings proclaiming a paraphrase of scriptures from Revelation 4:1-11. The melodic interpretation of this song is both confidently and quietly pleasing with a gentle crescendo every now and then. I can almost picture the scene that is relayed in both melody and words described in the book of Revelation. This song made me reminisce of days gone by of religious service experiences.
My final selection is Wondrous Love or known as What Wonderous Love Is This? An emotion evoking American Folk hymn that is absolutely gorgeous, giving goose-bumps while listening. This hymn pulls the listener in with its mystical melody and reverent reflection that can be felt in each note and phrase. Wondrous Love is hauntingly beautiful and ended up being my favorite on the whole album! The combination of sadness and joy speaks to the listener with a lilting promise of Divine love. Glad it was included on this delightful album. Cantum Laudus promises and delivers to the listener a sacred journey of timeless spiritual praise and reflection. A welcome addition to my collection, I found myself listening to it while reading or studying.