Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/295

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


�� ��entertained, that Purcell himself made a tran- | script of the work, in the days of his youth, for [ purposes of study. 1

Yet, even this was not enough to meet the demands of the age. Subsequent events proved that the King expected greater things than either Lawes or Lock could produce ; and he gained his end by a clever stroke of policy. Attracted by the evident talent of the new ' Children,' he encouraged them, not only to ging their best, but to make attempts at Com- position, also. An opportunity for testing their proficiency in this more difficult branch of Art was soon found. To celebrate a Victory over the Dutch Fleet,* a Thanksgiving Anthem was needed, at a few hours' notice. The news of the capture of the Enemy's ships arrived on a Satur- day; and, finding that the King expected the Music to be performed on the following day, the Composers attached to the Chapel unanimously declined the task of furnishing it. The Choir had, by this time, been reinforced by a second set of Choristers, among whom were Thomas Tudway, William Turner, and the greatest genius of the age, Henry Purcell. Such a company of Choir-Boys had probably never before, and has, certainly, never since, been gathered together. And its youthful members must have been well aware of their own value ; for three of them Humfrey, Blow, and Turner undertook the task which their elders had declined, and jointly pro- duced the so-called ' Club- Anthem,* 'I willalway give 'thanks,' Humfrey furnishing the first Move- ment, Turner the second, and Blow the concluding Chorus. This, at least, is the origin ascribed to that once-famous Composition, by Dr. Tudway : and, though the authority of his personal recollection must be weighed against certain chronological difficulties with which the subject is surrounded, 4 it is clear that the youth of the associated Com- posers tends in no wise to diminish the credibility of the story ; for, as early as Nov. 22, 1663, Pepys tells us that ' The Anthem was good after Ser- mon, being the sist Psalme, made for five Voices by one of Captain Cooke's Boys, a pretty Boy. And they say there are four or five of them that can do as much.* The ' pretty Boy ' was, in all probability, Pelham himself, then between 15 and 1 6 years old : and we are quite safe in regarding him, and his 'four or five* fellow-Choristers, as the true Founders of the School of the Restoration.

The basis upon which this School was built was an entirely new Art-form, as original in its conception, and as purely English in its charac- ter, as the Glee. What the Motet was, to the School which preceded the change of Religion, and the Full- An them to that which immediately followed it, the Verse-Anthem was to the School we are now considering. Designed, in the first instance, to gratify King Charles's 'brisk and airy* taste, this new creation, notwithstanding

�� ��i See vol. 11. pp. 18S-185.

s Possibly, the capture of 136 Dutch vessels, in 1664. before war was actually declared.

3 A copy of this Anthem will be found In vol. ill. of the 'Tudway Collection,' In the British Museum.

See vol. 1. p. 757, note.


the name universally applied to it, bore far less resemblance to the Anthem, properly so called, than to the more modern Cantata ; from which it differed, chiefly, in that it was written, in most cases, for a greater number of Voices, that it was supported by an Organ Accompaniment, and that it invariably terminated, even if it did not begin, with a Chorus. Its Movements were usually short; and written in a style partaking pretty equally of the more salient features of rhythmic Melody and Accompanied Recitative. Frequent Ritornelli were introduced, in obedience to the King's express command ; and the general cha- racter of the whole was more florid, by many degrees, than anything that had yet been heard in English Church Music, and so arranged as to display the Solo Voices to the best advantage.

Verse passages i. e. passages for Solo Voices were also freely introduced into the newer ' Ser- vices/ from which the Fugal Imitations of the 1 6th century were gradually eliminated, in order to prepare the way for a more flowing style of Melody. Sometimes, though not very frequently, these passages were varied, as in the Verse An- them, by the interpolation of Instrumental Ritor- nelli; while the venerable Gregorian Psalm-Tones were gradually replaced, first by the Single, and afterwards by the Double Chaunt.

Pelham Humfrey was the first Composer who achieved any real success in this new style of Composition. On the breaking of his Voice, he was sent, at the King's expense, to the Continent, where he studied, for some time, under Lulli. Pepys speaks of his return to England, ' an abso- lute Monsieur,' in November, 1667. Thafche was by that time thoroughly imbued, both with the principles and the practice of the French School, there can be no doubt. But, he was no servile imitator, even of Lulli. There is a grace, even in his boldest Licences, that at once pro- claims him a true genius ; and an originality in his method which would have stamped him for ever as a Master, even had he found no followers to assist him in forming a School. He delighted in the use of the Chromatic Semitone, and other Intervals rigidly excluded from the works of the older Contrapuntists ; and produced new, and ex- tremely pleasing effects, by the constant alter- nation of his Solo Voices, to which he allotted short responsive phrases, contrasted together in delightful variety, and always so contrived as to give due prominence to the meaning of the Sacred Text. All these peculiarities of manner he shared so liberally with his Choir-mate, Michael Wise, that the points of resemblance between the styles of the two Masters are almost innumerable. In flowing grace, and tenderness of expression, they were so nearly equal that it is sometimes impos- sible to choose between them. In no essential particular does the method of Part- writing origi- nated by the one differ from that adopted by the other. Their works are designed upon an exactly similar plan, and are evidently based upon ex- actly similar intentions. But, in sustaining power, the advantage was decidedly in Humfrey's favour. His phrases are always compact, and

�� �