Henry Purcell (1659-1695): My beloved spake

By  | April 20, 2012 | 2 Comments | Filed under: Choral Music, Series

The anthem featured in this week's posting is 'My beloved spake' which takes its text from the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16). It's known to have been composed before 1678 which makes it one of Purcell's earliest compositions. Every time I listen to this piece two things strike me:

  1. Purcell wrote it while he was still a teenager, to my mind this is compelling evidence that he was a musical genius.
  2. No matter how often I hear it I find it fresh, interesting, and full of vitality.

I could write reams and reams about this piece and about the originality and freshness with which Purcell exploits his text with its references to the coming of spring but there's such a thing as belabouring the obvious. Purcell's contemporaries, must have found the opening single section Symphony be startlingly original. The way in which Purcell uses the passing of the word 'rise' between all the voices to convey a sense of joy and excitement, the chorus at 'the singing of birds is come', and the surprising harmony and tonal shift at 'And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land' are all masterful.

Then there's the repetition of the opening Symphony and a sinuous violin accompaniment to the tenor which meant to depict the ripening of the green figs and of the grapes on the vines – every time I hear this accompaniment I find myself wondering "how on earth did he think of that?" He ends with 'Rise, my love, my fair one', a joyful Alleluia and the final chorus.

It's a wonderful piece of music which broke a lot of new ground, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do. You'll find it,its text, and performer information below the fold. Enjoy :-)

markfromireland

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): My beloved spake Z28 Complete

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Part 1: Symphony – My beloved spake and said unto me

Performers: James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass)

My beloved spake and said unto me: Rise my love, my fair one and come away.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16

Part 2: For lo! the winter is past

Performers: James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass)

For lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear upon the earth.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16

Part 3: And the time of the singing of birds is come

Performers: James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass), New College Choir Oxford

And the time of the singing of birds is come. Alleluia.

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16

Part 4: Symphony – The fig tree putteth forth her green figs

Performers: Charles Daniels (tenor), James Bowman (countertenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass)

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.

Rise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16

Part 5: My beloved is mine, and I am his

Performers:James Bowman (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Robert Evans (bass), Michael George (bass), New College Choir Oxford

My beloved is mine, and I am his. Alleluia.

Song of Solomon 2: 10-13, 16

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to Henry Purcell (1659-1695): My beloved spake

  1. Revd. John Copping July 28, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    It was a delight to discover this full version so beautifully presented. It was the anthem for my wife and me at our wedding at S
    Hampstead Parish Church in June 1960. Some years later on our anniversary it was played for us on Classic FM Breakfast Baroque when the presenter commented that it was a new piece to him.

    • markfromireland July 28, 2012 at 1:59 PM

      It's a lovely anthem - and beautifully sung. I'm delighted you found it and that it brought back happy memories.

      markfromireland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Forthcoming Posts

  • Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): ‘Drop, drop, slow tears’
  • 6th Sunday of Lent 2014: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) The Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross Op 51

Archives

Special Pages