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As pants the hart 'Chandos Anthem No 6a', HWV251b
author of text
after Psalm 42

'Handel: Chandos Anthems Nos 5a, 6a & 8' (CDA67926)
Handel: Chandos Anthems Nos 5a, 6a & 8
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Movement 1: Sonata: Larghetto – Allegro
Movement 2: As pants the hart for cooling streams
Movement 3: Tears are my daily food
Movement 4: Now when I think thereupon
Movement 5: In the voice of praise and thanksgiving
Movement 6: Why so full of grief, O my soul?
Movement 7: Put thy trust in God

As pants the hart 'Chandos Anthem No 6a', HWV251b
The first pair of Chandos Anthems included As pants the hart, HWV251b, which draws its text from Psalm 42. It is an expanded version of an anthem with organ accompaniment that Handel had written for the English Chapel Royal, probably in late 1712. The text of the opening chorus comes not from the King James Bible or the Prayer Book but rather from an anthem attributed to Dr John Arbuthnot, Queen Anne’s private physician and one of Handel’s earliest English friends. The use of this text again in 1717 was presumably a tribute to Arbuthnot, who very likely introduced Handel to Brydges.

The opening two-movement sonata features virtuosic writing for the first violin and a cleverly constructed fugue. The chorus that follows, ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’, is built on a point of imitation that had been used throughout the seventeenth century. Although there are only three vocal parts (soprano, tenor and bass), the contrapuntal texture is often in four parts with the oboe providing the additional voice.

The soprano aria ‘Tears are my daily food’ begins with a duet between the oboe and bassoon and subsequently contrasts the languid nature of ‘tears’ with the pointed interjections of ‘where is now thy God?’. The following recitative features the first violin playing rapidly arpeggiated chords representing the agitation of the singer as he remarks, ‘Now when I think thereupon, I pour out my heart by myself’. The tenor soloist here and elsewhere in the Cannons Anthems needs a light voice with good flexibility and access to reliable high notes. The specific singer for whom Handel wrote may have been a late example of what at the end of the seventeenth century would have been termed a ‘low countertenor’.

The chorus ‘In the voice of praise and thanksgiving’ again displays Handel’s contrapuntal skill, presenting the thematic material in both its original and inverted forms. The following duet, ‘Why so full of grief, O my soul?’, pairs oboe and violin and then soprano and tenor over a walking bass. Most of the interplay is contrapuntal, with the singers posing questions to each other. This makes the moments when they sing together—such as the repetitions of ‘why’ near the end of the movement—especially dramatic.

The concluding chorus, ‘Put thy trust in God’, begins with a long florid passage for the tenor voice. Handel did not explicitly designate this to a solo voice, almost certainly because he had only one tenor singer for the initial performance at Cannons. When performed with larger vocal forces it makes sense to assign it to the tenor soloist, following the practice of contemporary Oxford-based musicians working under the direction of William Hayes, an experienced conductor of Handel’s music.

from notes by Graydon Beeks © 2013

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Details for CDA67926 track 16
Put thy trust in God
Recording date
24 July 2012
Recording venue
Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Peacock
Recording engineer
David Hinitt
Hyperion usage
  1. Handel: Chandos Anthems Nos 5a, 6a & 8 (CDA67926)
    Disc 1 Track 16
    Release date: July 2013
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