The English organist and composer Edmund Hooper was born in North Halberton, Devon, some time around 1553 and died in London on July 14th 1621. Although there is no documentary evidence for it it seems likely that started his musical career as a choir boy at Exeter Cathedral. Whether he sang at Exeter or not he is known to have been resident in London and a member of the choir of Westminster Abbey by 1582. By 1588 he’d become Master of the Choristers. On 1 March 1604 he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal,and in 1606 he became the first regularly appointed organist of the abbey; his patent, dated 19 May 1606, was renewed for life in 1616. He was made joint organist of the Chapel Royal in 1615 an honour he shared with Orlando Gibbons until his death. He was buried on July 16th 1621 Hooper was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.
Hooper’s anthem Behold, it is Christ, was one of the most popular anthems of its period like much of his music it’s got a strong tonal direction and an unusual intense expressiveness. As you listen you’ll be able to hear his unusual twists harmony and heavy use of false relations. I particularly admire the ingenious way in which he threads the motif ‘whosoever believeth in him‘ throughout. You’ll find piece which is performed here by the Brabant Ensemble and its text below the fold.
[audio:http://saturdaychorale.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Behold-it-is-Christ-Hooper.mp3|titles=Behold it is Christ (Hooper)]
Text: Behold it is Christ
Behold it is Christ which was ordained by God to be the judge of the quick and the dead.
To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of their sins.
Acts 10: 42–3