Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Turn thou us, O good Lord

I’m including Turn thou us, O good Lord (Z62) more for the sake of completeness than anything else as I’m far from sure that the work is indeed by Purcell. It’s found in the first volume of the Flackton collection 1  and was noted by Flackton as follows:

The 3.d Collect for the 30 of January. on the Martyrdom of King Cha- by Henry Purcell

There’s also a copyist’s note that reads ‘Mr. Hen Pursell. of Westminster‘ you’d think that that would be enough to confirm it as authentically Purcellian but it’s such a clumsy and hacked about piece of work that like Arkwright I doubt whether Purcell wrote it. My suspicions are all stylistic – there’s the clumsiness of the writing for the solo tenor and indeed the fact that so much of the work is scored for a solo tenor. Then there’s how whoever wrote it handles ‘Spare thy people, good Lord‘ which is a clumsily cut-down reworking of material from ‘Blow up the trumpet in Sion‘. The anthem’s close which features a return to the solo voice with the trio and chorus ‘Spare thy people‘ is equally uninspiring in fact it’s downright dull. As I say I’m including it for completeness only – it’s not bad unless you measure it against Purcell’s exceptionally high standards. If you do use those standards then the best that can be said of it is that if it really is by Purcell he was having a really bad day when he wrote it.


Text: Turn thou us, O good Lord, Z62

Turn thou us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned, who turn to thee in weeping, fasting and praying.
For thou art a merciful God, full of compassion, and of great pity.
Thou sparest when we deserve punishment, and in thy wrath thinkest upon mercy.
Spare thy people, good Lord, spare them: and let not thine heritage be brought to confusion.
Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is great; and after the multitude of thy mercies, look up on us.

  1. British Museum (Add.30931).

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