English music owes a lot to Cooke as it was he to whom Charles II turned when he wanted the Chapel Royal’s music restored its former glory. If you look him up in Grove they have this to say about him:
English singer, choir trainer and composer. Immediately after the Restoration, he introduced Italianate techniques of composition and singing to the choristers of the Chapel Royal. Although the merit of his own compositions is slight, their influence was considerable; he was, moreover, an indefatigable and gifted teacher with a ready eye for spotting young talent, and his first set of choristers included Humfrey, Blow, Wise, Turner, Robert Smith (i) and Tudway, all of whom were to emerge among the leaders of the flourishing generation of English musicians that followed him.
All of which seems fair enough until you remember that his contemporaries thought highly of him. Both Pepys and Evelyn admired him greatly and although his later compositions aren’t in the same league as Humfrey’s or Blow’s they’re a bit more substantial than ‘slight’. Have a listen to Put me not to rebuke, O Lord with it’s highly expressive opening solo and it’s lustrous concluding chorus and see if you agree with me. Enjoy :-).
Henry Cooke (±1615 – 1672): Put me not to rebuke, O Lord
Put me not to rebuke, O Lord, in thine anger:
neither chasten me in thy heavy displeasure.
For thine arrows stick fast in me:
and thy hand presseth me sore.
There is no health in my flesh, because of thy displeasure:
neither is there any rest in my bones, by reason of my sin.
For my wickednesses are gone over my head:
and are like a sore burden, too heavy for me to bear.
I am brought into so great trouble and misery:
that I go mourning all the day long.
Lord, thou knowest my desire:
my groaning is not hid from thee.
Forsake me not, O Lord my God:
be not thou far from me.
Haste thee to help me:
O Lord God of my salvation.
Psalm. 38 vv, 1-4, 6, 9, 21, 22
- The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers.