Hyperion Records

O Lord our Governor, Z141
circa 1680
author of text
Psalm 8

'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 9' (CDA66693)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 9
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'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
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Track 9 on CDA66693 [4'33] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 9 on CDS44141/51 CD9 [4'33] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

O Lord our Governor, Z141
This devotional song was one of nine settings Purcell made around 1680 of psalm paraphrases by the poet John Patrick; Purcell copied the composition into an autograph score now in the British Museum (Add MS. 30930). Purcell set four of these poems for two tenors and a bass, and the remaining five for two trebles, high tenor and bass: all nine contain music of the highest quality; both Early, O Lord, my fainting soul and Plung’d in the confines of despair are masterpieces.

O Lord our Governor is one of the few joyous texts, beginning imitatively in a lively triple metre with the phrases rising to ‘exalted far above the firmament’: the metre changes for ‘From the weak pow’r of babes’ but Purcell retains the busy, imitative texture. The bass solo ‘When I to heav’n’ finds the composer on more familiar ground, especially at the introspective ‘Lord, what is man?’ The quartet returns at ‘Though lower than the angels made’, with marvellous pairing of the upper voices and especially felicitous writing for the tenor. Remarkable too is the rising chromaticism of ‘But let no man disown’. The last verse of the psalm repeats the opening words, and Patrick does the same. Purcell’s autograph saves space and time and simply instructs ‘O Lord our Governor: as before’.

from notes by Robert King ©

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