Some Double-Choir Anthems

This past Sunday at Christ Church Episcopal, New Haven we sang two great services, the regular eleven am for the feast of Christ the King, and a five pm evensong in Thanksgiving for Church Musicians. We sang lots of spectacular music including two of my favorite double-choir anthems representing the best of unaccompanied English church music repertoire. (Me on alto two.) These recordings are from the CD “Faire is the Heaven: Music of the English Church” by The Cambridge Singers, directed by John Rutter. When I was about 12 I was given this CD by Dr. Dale Adelmann as some sort of prize when I was a girl chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, and listened to it until it died; these are from a new copy. It’s a CD worth owning.

11 Hosanna to the son of David

Hosanna to the Son of David, Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Blessed be the King of Israel. Blessed be the Kingdom that cometh in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest places. Hosanna in the highest heaven.

(based on Matthew 21:9, Mark 11:10).

23 Faire is the Heaven

Faire is the heaven, William H. Harris (1883-1973)

Faire is the heaven, where happy soules have place,
In full enjoyment of felicitie,
Whence they doe still behold the glorious face
Of the Divine Eternall Majestie.

Yet farre more faire be those bright Cherubins,
Which all with golden wings are overdight,
And those eternall burning Seraphins,
Which from their faces dart out fiery light:
Yet fairer than they both, and much more bright
Be th’ Angels and Archangels, which attend
On Gods owne Person, without rest or end.

These then in faire each other farre excelling,
As to the Highest they approach more neare,
Yet is the Highest farre beyond all telling,
Fairer than all the rest which there appear,
Though all their beauties joynd together were;
How then can mortall tongue hope to expresse
The image of such endlesse perfectnesse?

(Edmund Spenser, from “An Hymne of Heavenly Beautie,” 1596)


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