O hearken Thou was written, for chorus and orchestra, for the Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary and was completed in March 1911 and first performed at the Coronation service in Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911, when the conductor was Sir Frederick Bridge. It was immediately issued by Novello in this version for chorus and organ in Novello’s series of church anthems. Elgar had also written a Coronation March and a Coronation Hymn, but here he is not looking to make a big public statement. Elgar takes verses 2 and 3 from Psalm 5 for his setting which was sung while the King took communion. This was not the time for his ceremonial manner and Elgar’s intense mood encompassing a rich choral sound took advantage of the huge acoustic to underline the fervent but essentially private dedication of the moment.
from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2007