Hyperion Records

My song shall be alway, Z31
composer
1690 ?
author of text
Psalm 89: 1, 5-9, 13-15

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 2' (CDA66609)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 2
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66609  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)  
Details
Part 1: Symphony
Track 12 on CDA66609 [1'36] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 12 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [1'36] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 2: My song shall be alway of the loving-kindness of the Lord
Track 13 on CDA66609 [4'00] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 13 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [4'00] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 3: God is very greatly to be feared
Track 14 on CDA66609 [1'27] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 14 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [1'27] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 4: Symphony
Track 15 on CDA66609 [1'31] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 15 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [1'31] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 5: O Lord God of hosts, who is like unto thee?
Track 16 on CDA66609 [4'35] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 16 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [4'35] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 6: Alleluia
Track 17 on CDA66609 [1'30] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 17 on CDS44141/51 CD2 [1'30] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

My song shall be alway, Z31
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My song shall be alway exists in two versions – one for solo soprano, the other for solo bass. The first printed score is not until Playford’s Harmonia Sacra (1703) but no source suggesting soprano exists from before this time, whereas at least three, all scored clearly for bass, date from before then. It may be reasonable to assume therefore that Playford was responsible for the re-scoring for soprano. In any case, there is no difference between the two versions save in register, but the most authoritative early manuscript, held in the Bodleian Library and probably copied in the hand of Henry Knight of Wadham College, is in the bass version, carefully annotated and even bearing the inscription ‘H.P. Sep: 9/90’, from which scholars have dated the work.

The anthem is unusual in many ways. Despite being composed on a large scale, there is, after the opening Symphony (repeated at the mid-point), almost nothing for the upper strings to do. The choir is treated even more lightly, singing only two brief and identical Alleluias. The Symphony is however a fine one, with the opening rising arpeggio creating a rich texture over its sustained bass notes, and the harmonies of the lilting triple-time reminiscent at times of the music of Georg Muffat, whose Armonico Tributo was influencing the early development of the concerto grosso during the 1680s. Although the style of the Symphony is still clearly that of Purcell, this late anthem does show interesting contrasts with the string writing of earlier works. After the Symphony, the solo bass dominates, first in a tuneful arioso movement, but then, more characterfully, in the first section of recitativo, ‘O Lord, the very heavens’. Here we find Purcell at his most Italianate, heavily influenced by the century’s developments in opera, changing pace and mood with great subtlety. A more lively section follows (‘For who is he among the clouds’), full of imitation between soloist and continuo, and concluded by the shortest of ritornelli, before the recitativo style returns at ‘God is very greatly to be feared’, with an especially poignant colouring used for the word ‘reverence’. The choir briefly interrupt with seven bars of triple-time Alleluias, and the strings repeat the Symphony.’

‘O Lord God of hosts’ finds Purcell at his most imaginative in this style, poised and dramatic – straight out of Monteverdi in the sustained high notes, under-pinned by a descending continuo scale, that mark the word ‘mighty’. Here is music that would be completely at home in the opera house. Next Purcell pictures the raging sea in splendidly descriptive fashion, full of running semiquavers and blustering effects. ‘Thou hast a mighty arm’ is perhaps less remarkable, set over a modulating ground bass, but the writing at ‘mercy and truth shall go before thy face’ is delicious in its ‘blue’ harmonies. As is so often the case, Purcell’s concluding ‘Alleluia’ is restrained and quietly understated, all the more effective for being so, and beautifully shaped in its bloom towards the end. It is then left to the choir to repeat their earlier Alleluia.

from notes by Robert King © 1992

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA66609 track 17
Alleluia
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-92-60917
Duration
1'30
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 17
    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 17
    Release date: November 2002
    11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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