I wrote about this anthem back in March 2012 and really don’t have anything to add to what I wrote about the anthem itself back then:
Purcell’s anthem ‘Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem’ (Z46) probably dates from 1689, and is one of the last he wrote for the Chapel Royal. The symphony with which it starts is both restrained and beautiful, I particularly like the lyricism of the triple-time section. Purcell carries this restraint into the anthem’s richly harmonic second part which is sung by the five soloists, it’s not until we get to ‘As we have heard, so have we seen’ that we first hear the choir who make a very restrained, almost subdued entrance. Not until we get to the third and final section does the mood begin to brighten. The start by the five soloists rapidly expands into the full choir who bring the anthem to a close with a series of ever increasingly spacious and richly harmonic Alleluias.
That posting featured the performance conducted by Roger King which sets a very high standard to match. The performance below by the British a capella group VOCES8 while using rather smaller forces nevertheless brings out to the full the richness of the the anthem’s five-part vocal texture and exploits to the full its alternation of imitative and contrasting material. Les Inventions handling of the beautiful opening symphony is also very praiseworthy. Enjoy :-).
Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem Z46
Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem: praise thy God, O Sion.
For kings shall be thy nursing fathers,
And queens thy nursing mothers.
As we have heard, so have we seen:
In the city of our God.
God upholdeth the same for ever.