Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O praise the Lord, all ye heathen

Henry Purcell We don’t know exactly when Purcell composed this short verse anthem but it must have been before December 1681 because it’s one of the anthems copied out in the York ‘Gostling’ partbooks by Stephen Bing and Bing died during the month of December 1681. It’s quite an Italianate piece written for two tenors with minimal participation by the choir.

It starts with a joyful triple time section in which the soloists conduct a dialogue during which they respond to each other’s calls for the entire world to praise the Lord. The next section features a dropping line at ‘merciful kindness’ while Purcell portrays the ‘truth of the Lord’ that ‘endureth forever’ with a single sustained note in both voices. A vigorous choral Alleluia follows which in turn is followed by Gloria in which the soloists again engage in an animated musical dialogue. The anthem end with the choir reprising their vigorous Alleluias. Enjoy :-).


Text: O praise the Lord, all ye heathen Z43

O praise the Lord, all ye heathen: Praise him, all ye nations.
For his merciful kindness is ever more and more towards us, and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Alleluia.
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. Alleluia.

Psalm 117


Charles Daniels (tenor), Paul Agnew (tenor), New College Choir Oxford, The King’s Consort, Robert King (conductor)

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