Hear me, O Lord, and that soon is a first-rate anthem, perhaps dating from as early as 1679 or 1680: it too is found in Fitzwilliam MS 88. There are four soloists, but Purcell frequently diverts the bass singer away from the continuo line, creating a sonorous, five-part texture which is especially rich. The opening section is contrapuntally complex and dominated by the glorious, falling motif ‘for my spirit waxeth faint’: the angular melody of ‘hide not thy face from me’ is splendidly quirky. ‘O let me hear thy loving kindness’ is set as an appealing duet between treble and bass, with the bass singer once again holding a line independent of the continuo section. The pleading four-part ‘Deliver me, O Lord’ is sung first by the four soloists, and then by the full choir: the harmony of Purcell’s opening block chords is highly individual, as are the melodic lines in the duet that follows for alto and tenor, ‘Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee’. The solo sections close with the quartet ‘Quicken me, O Lord’ whose rapid tonal changes – heading at times into keys infrequently charted by composers of the time – illustrate the need to ‘bring my soul out of trouble’. After such tonal ambiguities, the Gloria, in its bright, five-part D major, seems confident that God will answer this prayer.
from notes by Robert King ©