‘The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient‘ probably dates from the 1680s. It’s another one of his compositions that was clearly written with particular singers in mind. In this case the singers in question are two unknown trebles singing in the choir of the Chapel Royal. Whoever they were they were they were manifestly highly talented singers as only highly talented singers would even attempt this very complex, Italianate, and florid vocal tour de force.
The anthem for two trebles and chorus starts with soloists’ voices intertwining sinuously over the rumblings of the earth. The next line ‘The Lord is great’ sees the voices moving up and up as they joyfully give thanks ‘unto thy name‘ as the anthem progresses to the end of this section (‘which is great, wonderful and holy’) the music becomes imbued with a sense of wonder and of awe. The chorus which follows continues the awestruck mood – listen to how Purcell uses the word wordpainting at the word ‘fall‘ in the line ‘O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before his footstool, for he is holy‘ and you’ll hear what I mean. The soloists then return singing a very florid "Gloria" which is followed by a simple choral Alleluia to end the anthem.
You’ll find the anthem, lyrics, and performer information below the fold. Enjoy :-).
The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient Z53
Performers: Nicholas Witcomb (treble), Daniel Lochmann (treble), King’s Consort Choir
The Lord is King, be the people never so impatient:
He sitteth amongst the cherubims, be the earth never so unquiet.
The Lord is great in Sion, and high above all people.
They shall give thanks unto thy name, which is great, wonderful and holy.
O magnify the Lord our God, and fall down before his footstool, for he is holy.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, World without end, Amen.
Psalm 99: 1-3, 5