The opening is lyrical, with the word ‘great’ treated to a series of expansive melismas. The key and mood change at ‘His seed shall be mighty upon earth’: the harmony of ‘the generation of the faithful’ is especially rich as the bass singer takes an independent line from the continuo, creating a four-part texture. Triple metre returns at ‘Riches and plenteousness’ and Purcell sets ‘endureth for ever’ with a deliciously dropping motif which is anchored first over a pedal, and then an inverted pedal. A more Italianate section is introduced at ‘Unto the godly’ with a marvellous roulade for the high tenor on ‘ariseth’: ‘a good man’ is passed, almost conversationally, from voice to voice before the introduction of a more lively section, ‘his name shall be exalted with honour’. The solo alleluias begin simply but are gradually expanded and extended by Purcell. At least three different versions of the closing chorus are found in the various manuscript sources: we have used the version contained in the Durham and Liverpool manuscripts.
from notes by Robert King ©
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