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The Gesualdo Six

Hear O Heavens

The English Verse Anthem

Hear O Heavens

John Bull — Almighty God, which by the leading of a star
Thomas Tomkins — Above the stars my saviour dwells
Pelham Humfrey — Hear O Heavens
Orlando Gibbons — This is the record of John
Owain Park — The Testimony of St John (first performance)
Pelham Humfrey — A Hymne to God the Father
Thomas Tomkins — Hear my prayer, O Lord
Thomas Morley — Out of the deep
Anna Semple — New Work (first performance)
William Byrd — Teach me, O Lord (Psalm 119)
Pelham Humfrey — Like as the hart (Psalm 42)
Henry Purcell — My beloved spake
John Blow — I was in the spirit

In the English Reformation, new and vibrant forms of vernacular music-making emerged, including the verse anthem. Unlike the traditional ‘full’ anthem, where the choir maintains a continuous presence, this new form introduced an interplay between solo voices and the full consort, providing rich opportunity for narrative expression and musical development.

In this programme, The Gesualdo Six celebrate composers who specialised in this distinctive form. Some, such as Purcell, would go on to develop symphonic versions; others regained an enthusiasm for the older ‘motet’ style.

Highlights include the “Star Anthem” by John Bull, a quintessential Jacobean verse anthem celebrated across contemporary sources. The best-known in the 21st century is ‘This is the Record of John’, written by Orlando Gibbons for a visit of Archbishop Laud to his alma mater St John's College Oxford.

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St John's Smith Square, London
Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HT, United Kingdom

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