The opening section contains all these extrovert qualities, the two voices overlapping and intertwining while the earth rumbles away in its melismatic disquiet. ‘The Lord is great’ is beautifully set, lifting the voices exultantly through their upper registers, and joyfully giving ‘thanks unto thy name’. The return from the bouncing triple-time to a duple measure at ‘which is great’ is highly effective, but even more so is the gradual change to awestruck wonder as the section ends ‘is great, wonderful and holy’. The chorus maintains this deferential mood, the word ‘fall’ given word-painting such as only Purcell could, before the two boys return for an even more florid Gloria. Their section culminates in a thoroughly violinistic outflow of notes before a simple choral Alleluia closes a unique verse anthem.
from notes by Robert King ©
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