An Evening Hymn
(‘Now that the sun hath veiled his light’) is a complete contrast to the music that one normally associates with Purcell’s writing for the church. Here there is no question of impressing a Sunday congregation in the Chapel Royal, but instead a quite private and penitential attitude to God. Based on a five-bar ground, the work is a wonderful example of Purcell’s skill at handling the form, with the vocal entries adjusted to disguise repetitions of the bass, and a modulation introduced for variety in the middle of the piece. The quietly ecstatic ‘Halleluia’ that takes up the last forty bars or so is very different, but no less effective, to the settings normally heard of that word. There is surely no better example of the craftsmanship and genius of the man who, arguably Britain’s greatest composer, so richly deserved Playford’s accolade.
from notes by Robert King © 1989