The opening Sonata of My song shall be alway
will probably be immediately familiar, as it was used in its entirety in the Concerto grosso in G major, Op 3 No 3. (The second section is based on an idea from Handel’s Birthday Ode to Queen Anne.) In the first vocal number (all the texts are selected from Psalm 89) Handel ingeniously combines two ideas from earlier works: the orchestral introduction is taken from a chorale setting in the Brockes Passion, while the choral intonation in octaves on the words ‘The heav’ns shall praise thy wondrous works’ is derived from the ‘De torrente’ movement in Dixit Dominus
. The solo tenor enters with an accompanied recitative, of which there are only a few examples in the anthems, and continues with a more orthodox solo dominated by angular rhythms in the accompaniment. This, and two other movements of the anthem, are reworkings of movements in the ‘Caroline’ Te Deum in D major (HWV280) of 1714. (In some sources of the anthem a trio follows at this point, but it is almost certainly an interpolation by another composer.) Handel sets ‘The heav’ns are thine’ as a contemplative duet for alto and bass, perhaps surprisingly, but it has an appropriate sense of awe and makes an excellent contrast to the rhythmic vigour of the chorus ‘Righteousness and equity’ that follows. The last solo, ‘Blessed is the people’, and the short concluding chorus are the other movements derived from the Te Deum.
from notes by Anthony Hicks © 2009