The full anthem O God, thou hast cast us out, with its text taken from Psalm 60, dates from around 1680-82 and falls into three clear sections: the outer pair are for six-part full choir, and the short centre section for six soloists. The opening is strongly imitative, with the rising minor arpeggio created by the first two notes of the voices (‘O God’) contrasted with a more angular line for ‘thou hast cast us out and scattered us abroad’. Purcell’s mastery of contrapuntal texture is, as we would expect, complete, and his word-painting as effective as ever, with a rising figure for ‘thou hast also been displeased’ and an imploring, falling line for ‘O turn thee unto us again’: he saves the rich harmony of the full vocal texture for the latter part of the section ‘heal the sores thereof, for it shaketh’. In the central verse section the three lower and upper voices answer each other’s phrases, move then into five-part harmony, and finally combine for the last statement of ‘for vain is the help of man’. The last chorus is positive, with a strong and optimistic text. The opening ‘Through God will we do great acts’ is in block chords, and the enemies are firmly trodden underfoot by a descending motif which permeates throughout the whole choral texture, culminating in a splendidly solid final statement by the basses of the choir that takes them and the continuo section right down the musical scale and into a final Amen.
from notes by Robert King ©