Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Track(s) taken from CDA66585
Recording details: November 1991
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: March 1992
Total duration: 13 minutes 12 seconds

'If later volumes are as deftly and feelingly accomplished as this one, then King's grand Purcellian tour ought to be a landmark in English music discography' (The Independent)

'Purcell has seldom been this lucky' (CDReview)

O sing unto the Lord, Z44
author of text
Psalm 96: 1-6, 9-10

Symphony  [2'05]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
O sing unto the Lord is a relatively late work, noted in the Gostling Manuscript as ‘Written by Mr Purcell in 1688’. It shows Purcell at his most Italianate, with vigorous antiphony between voices and instruments, and also between a prominent solo bass and the chorus. This seems to have been a verse anthem written for a special occasion when the large string orchestra was available, with the block chords that open the work especially suited to a fuller orchestral texture. Before the imitative section that almost always makes up the second half of the Symphony in the anthems Purcell unusually adds a wonderfully expressive section (frequently marked ‘Drag’ in manuscripts), full of chromaticism and diminished harmonies. Although the writing is overtly celebratory, behind it is the deliciously wistful quality which is a feature of so much of Purcell’s music.

After the strings’ Symphony a solo bass ceremoniously opens the proceedings, followed by two lilting choral Alleluias, before we are treated to the first of a series of imaginative instrumental ritornelli. The four-part verse ‘Sing unto the Lord, and praise his name’ leads straight into the mysteriously-coloured ‘Declare his honour’, which blossoms into a full chorus. Ground basses are surprisingly thinly spread in the church music (compared at least to the odes and welcome songs) but the duet for treble and alto ‘The Lord is great’ is a fine example, capped by another marvellously inventive string ritornello.

The central section of the anthem is the quartet ‘O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’, as magical a piece of writing as Purcell ever produced. After such awestruck writing the antiphony of solo bass with choir and strings returns at ‘Tell it out among the heathen’, leading into a final section of Alleluias. Typically, Purcell treats these Alleluias gently, and the anthem ends serenely.

from notes by Robert King ©

Other albums featuring this work
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
   English   Français   Deutsch