The triple-time opening is gentle in nature, and well suited to performance by a small consort of singers: at ‘Labores manuum tuarum’ (‘thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands’) the metre changes, and ‘Beatus es, et bene tibi erit’ (‘O well is thee and happy shalt thou be’) is especially affectionately set with gently discordant false relations. The bass is given the majority of the middle section of the anthem as he talks of his wife being ‘as the fruitful vine’ (perhaps an autobiographical indication that Purcell, when he sang in the choir, was a bass), surrounding ‘lateribus domus’ (‘the walls of thine house’) with two melismas, and a solo treble is, suitably, given ‘Filii tui sicut novellae olivarum’ (‘Thy children like the olive branches’). The four voices return at ‘Ecce, sit benedicetur homo’ and lead into the closing alleluias. Here Purcell builds up from a simple beginning to a florid series of interchanges between the four voices before the final bars return to more conventional block harmony.
from notes by Robert King ©
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