Hyperion Records

O Lord, our governor, Z141
composer
1676/7
author of text
Psalm 8

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 3' (CDA66623)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 3
MP3 £6.00FLAC £6.00ALAC £6.00Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66623  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51   Download currently discounted
'Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44141/51)
Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44141/51  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Details
Track 8 on CDA66623 [10'00] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 8 on CDS44141/51 CD3 [10'00] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

O Lord, our governor, Z141
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O Lord, our Governor is a particularly early verse anthem, written certainly before 1679. It may well be Purcell’s earliest surviving sacred work, possibly dating from as early as 1676 when he would have been only sixteen years old! No autograph survives, and the writing is at times unlike that in any other of Purcell’s anthems. The solo and verse writing is wonderfully individual and responsive to the text and the overall effect quite majestic: even the kindest critic would have to admit that Purcell’s youthful desire to maintain strict counterpoint (when a few years later he would have bent the rules a little) does lead him into some highly individual harmonic moments in the choruses!

The opening is glorious with a wistful five-bar solo, high in its register, for the bass violin, leading to an extended passage for solo bass extolling the majesty of the Lord in marvellously expansive style. The ‘very babes and sucklings’ are represented by three solo trebles, innocently stilling ‘the enemy and the avenger’ in charming three-part close harmony, and two basses consider the creation of matters celestial before the section is brought to a close by a short chorus. Again the solo bass muses on mankind’s good fortune before the two trebles and two basses, later joined by the third treble, joyfully celebrate man’s dominion of the world in typically Purcellian style. The chorus take on the role of the animals that inhabit the world, the sheep and oxen in thoughtful style, and ‘the fowls of the air and the fishes of the sea’ in joyful (if somewhat bizarre) counterpoint. The music of the opening returns, this time ingeniously multiplied to occupy two basses in exact imitation, all the more grand in their wonder of the Lord’s creation.

The Gloria is quite old-fashioned in its style – it was only a few years previously that Purcell would have been singing just this sort of music as a treble in the Chapel Royal – but blossoms beautifully at ‘World without end’ and closes with a serene and harmonically individual ‘Amen’.

from notes by Robert King ©

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