Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
(subtitled ‘Crucifixion’) and Yes! the Redeemer rose
(subtitled ‘Resurrection’) by the Chester painter, music-seller and dissenter Richard Taylor are good examples of the genre of fuguing tunes — strophic metrical psalms or hymn tunes that include a series of fugal entries — though ‘Crucifixion’ has only a vestigial contrapuntal passage and is of more interest for its rich and dissonant harmony. As with much psalmody, the tune or ‘air’ is in the tenor (a survival of Renaissance practice), doubled at the octave by sopranos. Psalmody of this sort was originally performed unaccompanied. Organs were installed in many urban parish churches during the eighteenth century, though only about ten per cent of country churches had them by 1800. Instead, rural choirs began to be accompanied by small varied bands of instrumentalists who supported the vocal lines and played interludes or ‘symphonies’ at the beginning and between the verses.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1998