The Symphony provides a ravishing start, full of the drooping melodic lines and wistful harmonies that make Purcell’s work so appealing: the triple-time second section too has pastoral, even melancholy, undertones beneath its surface jollity, which continue as the high tenor soloist takes the first verse of the psalm text. His glorious melodic lines (including two wonderful melismas on the word ‘O’) are continued in the concluding instrumental ritornello. The three soloists combine at ‘Jerusalem is built as a city’, rise up the scale at ‘the tribes go up’ and, returning to triple-time, give thanks to God. The ritornello which follows looks ahead in the anthem for its material, rather than repeating the material just sung, and we are treated to a wonderfully melodic section which leads into the tenor solo ‘For there is the seat of judgement’. Purcell has already used this latest material instrumentally so now introduces a new section: his mid-anthem Symphony, in the tonic minor, is glorious. The solo voices quietly appeal for peace to come to Jerusalem, and that ‘they shall prosper that love thee’. The choir make their first entrance, asking first in block chords for peace, and then in more lively style that there may be ‘plenteousness within thy palaces’, and the soloists call too for prosperity, before returning to the more formal ‘peace be within thy walls’. They briefly share this request with the choir who bring the anthem to a close in simple vein.
from notes by Robert King ©
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