There is daring augmented harmony at ‘let them weep’, but even this pales into insignificance when set alongside the imploring ‘Spare thy people, O Lord’: the harmonic shift from ‘people’ to ‘O’ is one of the most devastating moments in all Purcell’s church music. Once again the chorus make a brief entrance, repeating the rich material from the preceding section, and then the soloists enter with an imitative ‘Wherefore should they say amongst the people’: the point is stated some twenty times before block chords demand ‘Where is their God?’. The chorus repeats the same section, their added numbers lending weight both to the question and to Purcell’s marvellous inner vocal parts.
from notes by Robert King ©
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