Henry Purcell (1659-1695)

"Thy Word is a Lantern," probably composed in 1687, takes its text from Psalm 119, with strong references to today’s second reading from 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5.  Set for three solo voices, SATB choir, and continuo, it is full of elegance, chromaticism and harmonic text painting. The full choir is used sparsely; once to provide a re-iteration of the “Quicken me” refrain, and finally in the concluding “Hallelujah.”  It is interesting to note that at this point in his career, Purcell was embarking on a theatrical career of providing plays with songs, catches, or incidental music. These theatrical  tendencies reveal themselves in the recitative-like sections where Purcell draws our ear to the personal and thorny nature of the text.

©Ryan Turner

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