Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O sing unto the Lord Z44

By  | March 2, 2012 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Choral Music, Playlists, Series

Henry PurcellPurcell's anthem 'O sing unto the Lord' dates from 1688, given the fact that among the forces deployed are a string orchestra and a full choir it was probably composed for a special occasion. It's a very Italianate peace characterised by antiphony between voices and instruments on the one hand and between the solo bass and the chorus on the other.

It opens with a celebratory symphony followed by the second movement 'Sing unto the Lord a new song' consisting of a bass solo, alleluias ending with instrumental ritornelli . The four-part verse which comprises the start of the third part of the anthem is 'Sing unto the Lord, and praise his name'  which leads directly to the solo ' The Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised' which expands in turn into a full-blown chorus. The fourth part 'Declare his honour unto the heathen, and his wonders unto all people' is a marvellous duet for treble and alto – sung here to great effect by Nicholas Witcomb (treble) and James Bowman (countertenor) followed by another ritornello for strings. We now come to the fifth part of the anthem 'O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness', this movement is the beautiful heart of the anthem sung here by Nicholas Witcomb (treble), Jerome Finnis (treble), James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), and  Robert Evans (bass) whose singing conveys marvellously the feeling of being awestruck that Purcell was aiming for. The anthem ends with the sixth and final part 'Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is king' like the first part it is characterised by antiphony between the bass soloist and the choir and strings the anthem ends serenely with alleluias

You'll find a full version of the anthem in one track, separate tracks for each movement, and of course the lyrics and performer names below the fold.

Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

O sing unto the Lord Complete

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Part 1: Symphony

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Part 2: Sing unto the Lord a new song

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Michael George (bass), New College Choir Oxford

Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

O sing unto the Lord a new song. Alleluia.

Sing unto the Lord all the whole earth. Alleluia.

Part 3: Sing unto the Lord, and praise his name

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Nicholas Witcomb (treble), Jerome Finnis (treble), James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass), New College Choir Oxford

Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

Sing unto the Lord, and praise his name; be telling of his salvation from day to day.

Declare his honour unto the heathen, and his wonders unto all people.

Glory and worship are before him; power and honour are in his sanctuary.

Part 4: The Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised

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Nicholas Witcomb (treble), James Bowman (countertenor)

Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

The Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised; He is more to be feared than all gods.

As for all the heathen, they are but idols; but it is the Lord that made the heavens.

Part 5: O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness

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Nicholas Witcomb (treble), Jerome Finnis (treble), James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), New College Choir Oxford

Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of him.

Part 6: Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is king

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Michael George (bass), Nicholas Witcomb (treble), Jerome Finnis (treble), James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), New College Choir Oxford

Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is king, and that it is he who hath made the round world so sure that it cannot be moved, and how that he shall judge the people righteously. Alleluia. Amen.

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2 Responses to Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O sing unto the Lord Z44

  1. zeal June 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM

    "Declare his honour is my best"

    • markfromireland June 25, 2012 at 11:56 PM

      Would you care to back up your statement with some sort of reasoned discourse?

      mfi

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