Hyperion Records

My heart is fixed, O God, Z29
author of text
Psalm 57: 8-12

'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 6' (CDA66663)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 6
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66663  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51   Download currently discounted
'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)  
Track 11 on CDA66663 [8'31] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 11 on CDS44141/51 CD6 [8'31] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

My heart is fixed, O God, Z29
This verse anthem with strings is a splendid work. It dates from the period 1682-85 when most of Purcell’s finest large-scale anthems were written, and the principal manuscript source is again the ‘Royal Music’ manuscript now in the British Museum. This was one of three volumes which Purcell made of his compositions before, in 1685, he appears to have become too busy to compile his largest works together in such a convenient manner. The text was once again from the Psalms, this time five joyful verses from Psalm 57.

Purcell chooses not to start with an instrumental symphony, instead launching straight into a lively triple-time movement with the three solo voices. Word-painting is immediately to the fore: the heart is ‘fixed’ with a sustained note, and ‘sing’ is illustrated with a swinging, dotted melisma. The reason for the displaced symphony becomes apparent as the voices command ‘awake up my glory; awake lute and harp’: only now do the instrumentalists obediently make their first sounds, but even then, before the royal violins are allowed their conventional contribution the voices have one more section, the lyrical ‘I myself will awake right early.’ Finally the instruments sound, their symphony based on that tuneful vocal material just performed. It has been well worth the wait, for here is Purcell’s instrumental writing at its compelling best, stylishly melodic, gloriously harmonised and with an especially fine part for the bass violins. The voices return at ‘I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord’, jauntiness mixed with just the right degree of nobility. ‘For the greatness of thy mercy’ is wonderfully spacious and leads into a reprise of the symphony, which lends itself especially well to ornamentation on the repeats: King Charles (and his royal violinists) must have adored such joyous yet elegantly dancing music. From here onwards the build-up is brilliantly handled. Over the three voices and continuo at ‘Set up thyself, O God’ Purcell superimposes the two violins, creating a luxurious six-part texture: the inexorable harmonic progressions at ‘and thy glory above all the earth’ are anchored by strong continuo foundations before another marvellous string ritornello leads into the Alleluias. Here too we find Purcell at his most compelling, melodically innovative, harmonically individual and building musical tension in a way that none of his contemporaries ever managed. A brief, dancing string ritornello overlaps the close of the section, maintaining interest for the entry of the choir’s strong block chordal Alleluias, over which the violins exult in the dotted rhythmic patterns that so captivated the royal ear.

from notes by Robert King ©

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDS44141/51 disc 6 track 11
Recording date
22 April 1993
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Ben Turner
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs & Lindsay Pell
Hyperion usage
  1. Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 6 (CDA66663)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: September 1993
    Deletion date: September 2008
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
  2. Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music (CDS44141/51)
    Disc 6 Track 11
    Release date: November 2002
    11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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