Purcell’s autograph of Lord, how long wilt thou be angry?, dating from the early 1680s, is contained in Fitzwilliam Museum MS 88 and is a marvellous synthesis of both old and new compositional styles. The reflective, five-part opening choral section is imitative, showing the influence on Purcell’s music of composers such as Byrd and Gibbons, whose work he admired and studied. Over this form Purcell imprints his own angularly chromatic harmonic language, which builds towards the anguished ‘Shall thy jealousy burn like fire for ever’. The three-part verse ‘O remember not our old sins’ is reflective, falling in tessitura to ‘great misery’. The homophonic chorus entry ‘Help us, O God’ is declamatory and ‘for the glory of thy name’ impressively builds its close entries before the opening imitative style returns for ‘O deliver us’, still coloured by chromatic lines which rise through ‘and be merciful unto our sins’. The anthem closes with a joyful triple-time section.
from notes by Robert King ©