Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/84

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72
ANTHEM.
 

combined in any single piece. After this, with Haydn and Mozart shining high in the musical firmament, it was but a short and easy step to the complete grand orchestra of Attwood's coronation anthems.

Third Period, 1720–1845.—Greene, Boyce, W. Hayes, Battishill, Attwood, Walmisley. At the beginning of this period the anthem received little accession of absolute novelty; yet, probably owing to the influence of Handel, it found able and worthy cultivators in Greene and several of his successors. 'I will sing of Thy power' and 'O clap your hands,' Greene; 'O give thanks,' and the first movement of 'Turn Thee unto me,' Boyce; with 'O worship the Lord' and 'Praise the Lord, Jerusalem,' Hayes, are admirable examples of these several authors. To Battishill we owe one work of eminent and expressive beauty: his 'Call to remembrance' seems like a conception of yesterday, so nobly does it combine the chief merits of our best modern church composers with the skill and power of the elder masters. 'Withdraw not Thou' and 'Grant we beseech Thee,' Attwood, with 'Remember, Lord' and 'O give thanks,' Walmisley, belong almost to the present day. With names so familiar in 'quires and places where they sing' this brief record of notable anthem- writers of the past may be fitly closed.

The number of anthems composed previously to the last hundred years, and scattered among the MS. part-books of cathedral libraries, considerable though it be, represents but imperfectly the productive powers of the old-English school. It is probable that many hundreds of such pieces have been irretrievably lost, either by the sacrilegious hand of the spoiler or the culpable neglect of a mean parsimony. Of the seventy-one anthems written by Blow, and sixty by Boyce, as composers to the Chapel Royal, how few remain, or at least are accessible! And, to glance farther back, where are the missing outpourings of the genius of Orlando Gibbons, or the numerous 'composures' of all his fertile predecessors? The principal treasures actually preserved to us are contained, for the most part, in Day's 'Collection,' already mentioned, Bamard's 'Church Music,' the volumes of Tomkins, Purcell, Croft, Greene, and Boyce, the collections of Boyce, Arnold, and Page in print, and of Aldrich, Hawkins, and Tudway in MS., together with that of the twenty-two anthems of the Madrigalian era, edited by Dr. Rimbault for the Musical Antiquarian Society, and Sir F. Ouseley's edition of Gibbons already mentioned.

Foremost among all foreign contributions to our national school of church music must be placed the twelve anthems written by Handel for his princely patron the Duke of Chandos. Standing apart from any similar productions composed on English soil to texts from the English Bible and for the chapel of an English nobleman, these works of England's great adopted son may justly be claimed as part of her rich inheritance of sacred art. Belonging to a class suited for special occasions are the Funeral and Coronation anthems of the same master. These, together with Mendelssohn's stately yet moving psalms and anthems—some of them also composed to English words—may be legitimately adopted as precious additions to our native store of choral music.

Widely different from such genuine compositions are those adaptations, in the first instance from Handel by Bond, and later on from Masses and other works, which have found their way into use in this country. Whether in these we regard the application of strange words to music first inspired by other and widely different sentiments, or the affront to art involved in thus cutting and hacking the handywork of a deceased master (even in his lightest mood) for the sake of pretty phrases or showy passages—which, however appropriate to their original shape and purpose, are palpably out of keeping in an Anglican service, as well as unsuited to our churches and their simpler executive means—such adaptations are radically bad, and repugnant to all healthy instincts and true principles of feeling and taste. The adaptations of Aldrich in the last and Rimbault and Dyce in the present century from Palestrina and other old continental composers, though not free from objection as such, are not included in the foregoing condemnation.

The eclecticism of existing usage in the selection of anthems is well shown by the contents of a book of words recently put forth for cathedral use. In addition to an extensive array of genuine church anthems of every age and school, from Tye and Tallis to the latest living aspirants, here are plentiful extracts from the oratorios of Handel, Haydn, Spohr, and Mendelssohn; two from Prof. Macfarren's 'St. John the Baptist,' a few of Bach's motets and choruses, several highly objectionable adaptations from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and lastly some specimens of French taste in 'church music' from the pen of M. Gounod. A wide range of art, truly!

Concerning the choice of the anthem the same clerical and high authority before quoted remarks that 'it ought to be a matter of deliberate and religious study'; and being a 'prescribed part of the service, every notion of ecclesiastical propriety dictates that it should harmonise with some portion of the service of the day.' Dr. Jebb further says that 'at each of the particular seasons of the year it would be well to have a fixed canon as to the anthems from which a selection should invariably be made.' These opinions carry conviction with them, and need no enforcement.

In counterpoint and its concomitants, the great works of former ages will scarcely ever be equalled, still less surpassed. Yet, while the English Church can reckon among her living and productive writers Dr. S. S. Wesley [App. p.523 "omit … from list of living composers", whose anthems, whether for originality, beauty, or force, would do honour to any school or country, together with the genial and expressive style of