Gibbons was renowned amongst his contemporaries as an organist rather than as a composer perhaps, amongst other reasons, because the amount of music he composed is relatively slight. But if ever there was a composer to whom the adage "quality not quantity" applies that composer is Gibbons. I mostly write about choral music on this site, and religious choral music at that, so for present purposes I’ll confine myself to remarking that if you enjoy Byrd’s keyboard music then you’ll find Gibbons’ works well worth exploring. His church music includes thirty two anthems of which twenty-two including this one are full anthems. Almighty and everlasting God is a four-part (SATB or ATTB) setting of the collect for the third Sunday after Epiphany and has been part of the repertoire amongst English cathedral and college choirs from the moment it was published. It’s divided into five sections each of which corresponds to a line (section) of its text and each of which has it’s distinct cadence and motif.
Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): Almighty and everlasting God
Almighty and everlasting God,
mercifully look upon our infirmities,
and in all our dangers and necessities
stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany
- Oxford Camerata conducted by Jeremy Summerly.