Ouseley became Professor of Music at Oxford University in 1855 and was an influential scholar in his day, editing the sacred works of Gibbons and making a study of Spanish musical treatises. As a composer he wrote relatively little, although several of his anthems are still regularly performed today. He eschewed secular influences in music at a time when organists ‘inflict upon the congregation long voluntaries, interludes, &c. which consist either of his own vulgar imagination, or selections from the last new opera’ (Sutton). Ouseley commented on the use of secular melodies in Hymn tunes as follows: ‘How can they result in aught but the disgust and discouragement of all musical churchmen, the misleading of the unlearned, the abasement of sacred song, the falsification of public taste, and (last, but not least) the dishonour of our God and his worship?’ Both at Oxford and at St Michael’s College, Tenbury, Ouseley’s musical style and views on liturgy influenced many Victorian church musicians—including Stainer, whom he invited to Tenbury to become organist there in 1857.
The anthem From the rising of the sun is a short and unpretentious essay of Hymn-like character, in what might be termed Ouseley’s self-imposed ecclesiastical compositional idiom. As with all his church music, Ouseley allows the words to speak clearly to the listener—exemplified by the setting of the words ‘thus saith the Lord!’. The text (from the Book of Malachi) clearly chimed with his own Oxford Movement-inspired Anglo-Catholicism: ‘and in every place incense shall be offered up’.
from notes by William McVicker © 2002