Hyperion Records

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Z20
composer
1682/5
author of text
Psalm 138

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 2' (CDA66609)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 2
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66609  Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51  
'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
Part 1: Symphony
Track 8 on CDA66609 [2'51] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 8 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [2'51] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 2: I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord
Part 3: Symphony
Track 10 on CDA66609 [1'51] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 10 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [1'51] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 4: All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Z20
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I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord is contained in one of three large volumes now in the British Museum: the volume which holds this anthem contains fair copies of seventeen of Purcell’s own works (and one by Blow), though it seems apparent that by 1685 Purcell was lacking the time to keep the book properly up to date. It is therefore hard to date the work more accurately than to state it was written between 1682 and 1685, though this writer’s instinct points him towards the earlier end of that period.

The anthem requires five soloists, and is written on a fairly large scale with the Symphony repeated in full at the mid-point. The opening of that Symphony is again in wistful mood, full of extraordinarily intense harmonies and dropping chromaticism, melancholy yet curiously uplifting in the sadness which pervades so much of Purcell’s music. Again the second part of the Symphony follows the Humfrey pattern in utilising a dance-like, largely homophonic second section which introduces the opening vocal material. With five voices with which to play, Purcell is able to contrast textures which are basically chordal with close imitation, such as at ‘Ev’n before the gods’, where the point swings rapidly between the voices and instruments. A smoother texture is introduced by a solo boy at ‘I will worship towards thy holy temple’ before the five soloists return to their imitation at ‘When I called upon thee’, their falling dotted motif taken up by the strings as the basis for their ritornello. The first section ends with a short chorus which repeats the soloists’ first music, and the opening Symphony is repeated, though seemingly requiring more intensity.

A duet between alto and tenor ‘All the kings of the earth’ begins the second half before the five voices return at ‘Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the Lord’, building up to a marvellous climax at ‘great is the glory of the Lord’.

The centrepiece of the anthem is another vocal tour de force for Purcell’s remarkable bass singer John Gostling. With his singer’s vocal range spanning two-and-a-half octaves, and clearly inspired by the text ‘For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly’ Purcell exploited every possible inch of pictorialisation, pushing his friend and colleague to the highest and lowest extremes of his range.

There is little wonder that this particular anthem can be so rarely performed, but how effective is Purcell’s writing when there is a singer able to cope with stratospheric and subterranean vocal ranges and also with subtle nuances such as the stark vocal colour required to sing ‘Though I walk in the midst of trouble’. After such a showcase, Purcell ends the work in high spirits with chorus, soloists and strings joining together exultantly.

from notes by Robert King © 1992

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDS44141/51 disc 2 track 9
Part 2: I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-92-60909
Duration
2'46
Recording date
28 February 1992
Recording venue
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Ben Turner
Recording engineer
Philip Hobbs
Hyperion usage
  1. Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 2 (CDA66609)
    Disc 1 Track 9
    Release date: May 1992
    Deletion date: July 2010
    Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
  2. Purcell: The Complete Sacred Music (CDS44141/51)
    Disc 2 Track 9
    Release date: November 2002
    11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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