The opening is glorious with a wistful five-bar solo, high in its register, for the bass violin, leading to an extended passage for solo bass extolling the majesty of the Lord in marvellously expansive style. The ‘very babes and sucklings’ are represented by three solo trebles, innocently stilling ‘the enemy and the avenger’ in charming three-part close harmony, and two basses consider the creation of matters celestial before the section is brought to a close by a short chorus. Again the solo bass muses on mankind’s good fortune before the two trebles and two basses, later joined by the third treble, joyfully celebrate man’s dominion of the world in typically Purcellian style. The chorus take on the role of the animals that inhabit the world, the sheep and oxen in thoughtful style, and ‘the fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea’ in joyful (if somewhat bizarre) counterpoint. The music of the opening returns, this time ingeniously multiplied to occupy two basses in exact imitation, all the more grand in their wonder of the Lord’s creation.
The Gloria is quite old-fashioned in its style – it was only a few years previously that Purcell would have been singing just this sort of music as a treble in the Chapel Royal – but blossoms beautifully at ‘World without end’ and closes with a serene and harmonically individual ‘Amen’.
from notes by Robert King ©
O Lord, our governor Z141 [10'00]
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