Hyperion Records

O praise God in his holiness, Z42
composer
1682/5
author of text
Psalm 150

Recordings
'Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 1' (CDA66585)
Purcell: The Complete Anthems and Services, Vol. 1
MP3 £7.99FLAC £7.99ALAC £7.99Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA66585  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 – O praise God in his holiness
Track 7 on CDA66585 [2'44] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 7 on CDS44141/51 CD1 [2'44] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 2: Praise him in his noble acts
Track 8 on CDA66585 [3'27] Archive Service; also available on CDS44141/51
Track 8 on CDS44141/51 CD1 [3'27] 11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Part 3: Praise him upon the well-tuned cymbals

O praise God in his holiness, Z42
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O praise God in his holiness is another of Purcell’s jewels, which probably dates from between 1682 and 1685. It takes as its text the inspired words of Psalm 150, which are full of references to music and musical instruments. Purcell separates each verse of the psalm with a dancing instrumental ritornello, building up the work to its climax in a most compelling fashion.

The harmony of the opening section of the Symphony is unusual, even for Purcell, with the angular lines, complex rhythms and delicious suspensions creating the wistful mood that is so prevalent in Purcell’s early writing (and a clear indication that this is an anthem to be played by single strings). With the more lively, triple-time second section the air begins to clear, and at the first entry of the voices a joyful mood is finally set. Unusually, Purcell writes a descant for the first violin throughout much of the verse sections, giving a brighter texture than the all-male quartet would otherwise provide, and providing a natural link into the instrumental ritornelli.

The triple-time metre is temporarily broken at ‘Praise him in his noble acts’, with upper and then lower pairs of voices combining in splendid word-painting. Each of the voices is given its solo ‘break’ as the different instruments on which the Lord is to be praised are introduced – the higher bass for the trumpet, the tenor for the ‘cymbals and dances’, the lower bass for the ‘well-tuned cymbals’ (with an especially ‘blue’ harmony for the word ‘tuned’ and covering an extraordinarily wide tessitura of over two octaves), and there is a delightful harmonic shift from the full quartet for the ‘lute and harp’. The build-up is inexorable, with Purcell holding the choir in reserve until the final section ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord’. Gone here are the dotted rhythms, replaced with a huge sweep of sound as the instruments, the soloists and choir combine in a magisterial, broad ending that is wonderfully uplifting.

from notes by Robert King ©

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