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One of the choristers who sang during this period, Michael Wise (c1647–1687), returned to the Chapel Royal at Whitehall in 1676 having been a lay clerk at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and Eton College, and organist and instructor of the choristers at Salisbury Cathedral. On the recommendation of James II, Wise was appointed almoner and master of the choristers of St Paul’s Cathedral in January 1687 once the musical life was re-establishsed at the Cathedral following the Fire of London in 1666. This appointment would have required his resignation from his post at Salisbury Cathedral, but the sequence events which followed is unclear. Wise evidently remained in Salisbury; one Anthony Wood recorded that on 24 August 1687 (St Bartholomew’s night), ‘he was knocked on the head and killed downright by the night watch at Salisbury for giving stubborn and refractory language to them’. Wise was replaced at St Paul’s by fellow chorister John Blow.
Wise’s anthem The ways of Zion do mourn is considered to be his masterpiece. Some of the sources mark ‘Ritornello’ at two points in the score as do some later manuscripts of this piece. This suggets that the anthem may originally have been intended to have instrumental interludes—as had been introduced at the Chapel Royal. None of these instrumental passages is extant, although this is hardly surprising as such string accompaniments were short-lived and later taste was to omit or shorten such passages.
from notes by William McVicker © 1991
|Hear my prayer|
This recording features St Paul’s Cathedral Choir at the peak of their power, performing a yearning sequence of liturgical works that includes some of the best-loved choral works of all time: Mendelssohn’s ‘Hear my prayer’ (‘O for the wings of a d ...» More