William Boyce’s anthem Lord, thou hast been our refuge
was written in 1755 for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy, the charity that raised (and still raises) funds for needy clergymen and their families. With Boyce’s Blessed is he that considereth the poor, written for the same occasion, it seems to have been the last music specially composed for the Sons of the Clergy for about a century; it was performed every Festival between 1775 and (probably) 1843 together with Handel’s Esther
overture, the Dettingen Te Deum, the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah
and Zadok the Priest
. This probably explains why it was published in full score in 1802, at a time when Boyce’s choral music had almost entirely been supplanted by Handel. The text is appropriate for a charity, and drew from Boyce some fine, varied music, ranging from the brilliance of the opening and closing choruses to the pathos of ‘Yea, like as a father pitieth his own children’ and ‘Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us’, a remarkable trio for three boys doubled by oboes. Like all the pieces recorded here, this is music that demands to be heard in the spacious acoustic of the building for which it was written.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1998