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Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace

author of text
Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 139:11; John 1:5; Psalm 119:175

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) was the illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley (1766-1837) and Sarah Suter, who had been his housekeeper. Suter bore him several children and their relationship out of wedlock continued because of Samuel's addiction to the opinions of Martin Madan (minister of the non-conformist Lock Chapel), who held unorthodox views on marriage.

Despite the stigma attached to being illegitimate—a very considerable burden at the turn of the nineteenth century—Samuel Sebastian Wesley was to become the most important English church composer between Purcell and Stanford.

In 1853 Wesley published a volume of twelve anthems which included Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace. Many of his compositions have sustained enduring popularity and this anthem is no exception. It is interesting that many successful church composers have understood the need for a degree of harmonic simplicity perhaps best defined as 'a slower rate of harmonic change'. Twentieth-century composers too—like Howells, Leighton and Harvey—have been quick to recognise that harmonic complexity (when increased by rapidly-changing chords—unless done for specific effect) does not suit the nature of a large resonant acoustic such as that of St Paul's Cathedral. Wesley is at his best in anthems such as Ascribe unto the Lord and Blessed be the God and Father (in Volume I of this series) where broad majestic themes announce an important text. Here he adopts the same fundamental approach where the theme is treated with slow-moving harmonies, the text dictating a peaceful, meditative approach.

from notes by William McVicker © 1995


An English Coronation 1902-1953
Studio Master: SIGCD569Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The English Anthem, Vol. 5
CDA66758Archive Service
Wesley (SS): Anthems, Vol. 1
CDA66446Archive Service


Track 2 on CDA66446 [4'17] Archive Service
Track 2 on CDA66758 [4'33] Archive Service
Track 9 on SIGCD569 CD2 [3'21] Download only

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