Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O dive custos Auriacae

Purcell setting of Henry Parker’s poem O dive custos Auriacae domus ‘An elegy upon the death of Queen Mary’ is a stunning piece of music. The poem’s calls upon the Isis and the Cam (the Oxbridge rivers) to weep for their deceased Queen. It’s in the form of a duet and is a wonderful example…

William Child (1606-1697): O praise the Lord

William Child is largely forgotten today and when musicologists do discuss his music they tend to dismiss it as unimaginative and utilitarian. I very much doubt though that that is what his contemporaries and his successors, who included Blow and Purcell thought. We may today be grateful for our rich inheritance of music from Blow,…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Who hath believed our report?

The text to this anthem is from the Book of Isaiah and if you think you’ve heard it very recently you probably have –  sixty years after Purcell wrote this setting Handel set much of the same text for the second part of Messiah. The autograph manuscript for Purcell’s setting is to be found in…

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…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): My heart is fixed, O God

This wonderful verse anthem is one of my favourites I find it’s cheerful expansiveness simply irresistible while its joyful text from Psalm 57 is a great tonic to the Anglican angst in which Purcell all too frequently indulges himself. The source is the ‘Royal Music’ manuscript which dates it to the three year period 1682-85…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O Lord God of hosts

Purcell only ever wrote three anthems scored for eight-part choir of which ‘O Lord God of hosts’ (Z37) is one. It’s an early work which wrote by 1681 at the latest and it’s more likely that he wrote it a year earlier. The text is from Psalm 80 and Purcell who loved nothing more than…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O praise the Lord, all ye heathen

We don’t know exactly when Purcell composed this short verse anthem but it must have been before December 1681 because it’s one of the anthems copied out in the York ‘Gostling’ partbooks by Stephen Bing and Bing died during the month of December 1681. It’s quite an Italianate piece written for two tenors with minimal…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O consider my adversity Z32

Purcell seems to have composed the verse anthem ‘O consider my adversity (Z32)‘ relatively late in his career. It takes its text from eight verses of Psalm 119 setting them mostly for solo trio. It’s a surprisingly large-scale work that Purcell starts by having each voice sing the opening phrase over a descending continuo line…