Blessed be the Lord my strength is another very early anthem, certainly written by 1679 and copied by Isaack into a manuscript now in the Fitzwilliam Museum. The opening is scored for solo bass who nobly expresses his faith in God. The two tenors ask ‘Lord, what is man?’ in a delicious series of suspensions before all three soloists join at ‘Man is like a thing of nought’. With the bass singer forging an independent line from the continuo, the harmony of ‘his time passeth away’ is especially rich, and is briefly taken up by the chorus. Purcell sets ‘Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down’ to a typically individual melodic line before setting a more warlike tone at ‘touch the mountains, and they shall smoke’. Lightnings are ‘cast forth’ and arrows are shot to consume the enemy. The closing chorus ‘Send down thine hand from above’ also contains highly original vocal lines as the young composer experiments with contrapuntal choral textures.
from notes by Robert King ©