Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Great is the Lord Op 67

imageElgar started ‘Great is the Lord’ in 1910 it’s an adaptation of Psalm 47 and is fairly popular now but at the time he was composing it, perhaps because there was no patron to commission it in sight, it was doubtful that Elgar would even complete it. It took him two years working in fits and starts but on  July 16th 1912 it received its first performance with organ accompaniment at Westminster Abbey with  Sir Frederick Bridge conducting – the success of this outing led it being orchestrated in September 1913. Structurally it’s not particularly complex, Elgar divided it up into sections each of which introduces new material, it opens with the the altos, tenors and basses in unison but changes thereafter to being in two parts with some passages in block harmony. There’s a wonderful bass solo at ‘We have thought on Thy loving-kindness, O God’ the anthem ends with rich choral writing that reminds me more than somewhat of his oratorios. Enjoy :-).

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934): Great is the Lord Op 67

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness;
beautiful in elevation,—the joy of the whole earth,—is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
God hath made Himself known in her palaces for a refuge.
For, lo! The kings assembled themselves, they passed by together;
they saw; then were they amazed; they were dismay’d, they hasted away;
trembling took hold of them there,—pain, as of a woman in travail,—
as with the east wind that breaketh the ships of Tarshish.
As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever.
We have thought on Thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of Thy temple:
as is Thy name, O God, so is Thy praise unto the ends of the earth; Thy right hand is full of righteousness.
Let mount Zion be glad, let the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of Thy judgements;
walk about Zion and go round about her, tell the towers thereof, mark ye well her bulwarks,
consider her palaces, that ye may tell it to the generation following.
For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death. Amen.

Text: After Psalm 47 (48)

Performers: St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, Andrew Lucas (organ) conducted by John Scott.

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