Christopher Gibbons (1615 – 1676): O Bone Jesu

A Latin-texted motet is, as you might expect, quite unusual amongst Gibbons’ compositions1. It’s very beautifully and expressively written and with an very special sound-world. The soprano hovers more than an octave over the three lower voices the effect of which is heightened by sharpened interjections. I found it a very striking piece of music…

John Blow (1649-1708): Salvator mundi, salva nos

Many things changed drastically in England once the Puritan government fell and the monarchy under Charles II was restored. Among the things that changed was that Church music was suddenly allowable again. Among the things that didn’t change was the fact that Latin texts remained distinctly non grata in Anglican churches. This didn’t stop Purcell…

John Blow (1649-1708): Let thy hand be strengthened

James II and his Queen Mary of Modena were crowned in Westminster Abbey on 23 April 1685, St George’s Day. Blow’s four-part (SATB) setting of the coronation anthem Let thy hand be strengthened would have been sung by the scholars of Westminster School to greet the arrival of the Queen after the Vivats. It’s sung…

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): In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust Z16

Purcell’s verse anthem In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust (Z16) dates from around 1682 – the middle of the period during which Purcell composed most of his anthems with string accompaniment. Its source is the British Museum’s ‘Royal’ manuscript but it’s probably based on an earlier and rougher autograph now held in…

Henry Purcell (1659-1695): How have I stray’d

William Fuller was a royalist clergyman who had been deprived of his livelihood during the Commonwealth and who, following the Restoration was appointed to several Anglican church posts in Ireland he preferred England to Ireland and following a successful court intrigue was appointed Bishop of Lincoln. Purcell set four of his poems all of which…