This wonderful five line anthem is an early composition – I'm not able to give a precise date but it certainly predates the the Gosling partbooks which places its composition date in the late 1670s – it was composed in other words when Purcell was still a teenager. The anthem's opening line shows the inflluence of Purcell's teachers but his use of harmony is already distinctively his own. At the second line 'Hear my prayer, O God …' Purcell moves to a solo trio and if you listen closely you can hear a brief snatch of his great eight-part setting of the same text (I wrote about 'Hear my prayer, O Lord', (Z15) here: Henry Purcell (1659-1695): Hear my prayer, O Lord | Saturday Chorale and here: Sunday Playlist: Henry Purcell – Hear my prayer – Dresdner Kreuzchor | Saturday Chorale give yourself a treat and listen to both performances). At 'for strangers are risen up' Purcell depicts the rise of the hostile strangers and tyrants by making them ascend upwards through the three voices but couners this rise of tyrants and enemies with a choral affirmation in the next line that God is his helper. The fourth line 'An offering of a free heart …' is taken by the three upper solo voices and is charming, it's also wonderfully well sung by trebles Mark Kennedy and James Goodman with countertenor James Bowman in tihs recording. The anthem ends with the chorus confidently proclaiming that God has delivered the psalmist 'out of all my trouble' and that he has seen 'his desire upon mine enemies'. This last line always makes me smile because every time I hear it I'm reminded of the how the teenage Purcell who was justly proud of having written a five-part choral rendition with a very clevely worked out five-part piece of counterpoint marked it in his manuscript as '5 in one'.
You'll find it together with its '5 in one' closing chorus below. Enjoy :-)