Hyperion Records

I was glad when they said unto me, Z19
composer
1682/3
author of text
Psalm 122: 1-8

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 7' (CDA66677)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 7
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66677  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51  
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Track 4 on CDA66677 [8'02] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 4 on CDS44141/51 CD7 [8'02] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

I was glad when they said unto me, Z19
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Purcell’s first setting of I was glad when they said unto me dates from 1682 or 1683, the period when he is thought to have composed many of his finest verse anthems with strings. The text, from Psalm 122, is often associated with coronations but would also have been suitable, with its prayers for peace and prosperity, for a variety of other occasions. Purcell’s setting takes an understated line on the celebratory side of the text, picturing instead a contemplative scene of a country apparently at peace with itself.

The Symphony provides a ravishing start, full of the drooping melodic lines and wistful harmonies that make Purcell’s work so appealing: the triple-time second section too has pastoral, even melancholy, undertones beneath its surface jollity, which continue as the high tenor soloist takes the first verse of the psalm text. His glorious melodic lines (including two wonderful melismas on the word ‘O’) are continued in the concluding instrumental ritornello. The three soloists combine at ‘Jerusalem is built as a city’, rise up the scale at ‘the tribes go up’ and, returning to triple-time, give thanks to God. The ritornello which follows looks ahead in the anthem for its material, rather than repeating the material just sung, and we are treated to a wonderfully melodic section which leads into the tenor solo ‘For there is the seat of judgement’. Purcell has already used this latest material instrumentally so now introduces a new section: his mid-anthem Symphony, in the tonic minor, is glorious. The solo voices quietly appeal for peace to come to Jerusalem, and that ‘they shall prosper that love thee’. The choir make their first entrance, asking first in block chords for peace, and then in more lively style that there may be ‘plenteousness within thy palaces’, and the soloists call too for prosperity, before returning to the more formal ‘peace be within thy walls’. They briefly share this request with the choir who bring the anthem to a close in simple vein.

from notes by Robert King ©

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