Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Blessed be the Lord my strength

This is a very early anthem, composed at the latest by 1679 it’s opening is scored for solo bass who expresses his faith in God which is followed by a series of suspensions in which the two tenors ask ‘Lord what is  man?‘ before all three soloists join to reply that ‘Man is like a thing of nought‘ whose ‘time passeth away like a shadow‘ – the harmonies for which are very rich, this is briefly reprised by the chorus. The next line ‘Bow thy heavens, O Lord …‘ has a very distinctive melodic line which becomes more warlike at ‘touch the mountains, and they shall smoke‘. You can hear the young Purcell experimenting with different textures and contrapuntal technique in the next three lines in particular the closing chorus. An early work? Certainly. An immature or uninteresting one? Not even slightly. Enjoy :-)


Text: Blessed be the Lord my strength Z6

Blessed be the Lord my strength, who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight;
My hope and my fortress, my castle and my deliverer, my defender in whom I trust: who subdueth the people that is under me.
Lord, what is man, that thou hast such respect unto him; or the son of man, that thou so regardest him?
Man is like a thing of nought: his time passeth away like a shadow.
Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
Cast forth thy lightnings, and tear them: shoot out thine arrows, and consume them.
Send down thine hand from above: deliver me, and take me out of the great waters, and from the hand of strange children;
Whose mouth talketh of vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of wickedness.

Performer Information:

Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Michael George (bass), King’s Consort Choir

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.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