Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/485

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SERVICE.

binations. Anybody who will take the trouble to compare his graceful and melodious uithflOQI ' Hear the voice and prayer ' and ' If ye love Me ' with his Service, must perceive that he wrote his setting of the canticles under an evident self- imposed restraint. The whole of the Service was made to follow absolutely the style of the Te Deuin, and the result is, that music of a dignified and ecclesiastical type has been produced pure, perhaps, but certainly uninteresting. Led in this direction by so great and famous a composer as Tallis, many of his contemporaries and im- mediate successors followed in his footsteps, and English cathedrals possess a considerable store of plain contrapuntal services in minor keys. This style, the growth of the middle of the i6th century, has even been imitated by those modern purists who seem to think that the highest 'func- tion of an art consists in founding factories of sham antiques, It is ofter a matter of surprise to those untutored in the narrow traditions 01 our cloisters why such glorious canticles as the Te Deum and Magnificat should be so often sung to music of the most sad and sombre description. The explanation now becomes simple. The oldest known Te Deum was in the Phrygian mode ; Tallis wrote his setting in an irregular Doric mode ; his followers, having lost the knowledge of the church modes, used the minor keys instead : the fashion, once started, kept its hold on church musicians for a considerable period. These 'minor' settings of the canticles will, however, sometimes be found remarkably suitable for use in penitential seasons, or in times of public ca- lamity a contracted but respectable sphere of utility.

Closely following the class of services just de- scribed comes the strict contrapuntal school, of which ' Gibbons in F' forms such a noble example. Gibbons has not found so many imitators as would be expected, but the real reason probably lies in the fact that his counterpoint is so remarkably smooth and fine that it is not an easy task to follow in his steps. Tallis died in 1585, Gibbons in 1625 just forty years later; a change or growth of musical style might therefore have been expected at the latter date. It must not be thought that Gibbons was the first to write the ' pure contrapuntal ' service ; a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by Dr. Tye (who was organist to Edward VI.) show that he transferred his motet-style without any change to his settings of these canticles, which consist almost entirely of short 'points' or phrases of four-part imitation. This is just what Gibbons did, but he threw more melodic freedom and greater breadth into his work, and therefore it has lived, while Tye's Magnificat is only known to antiquarians.

Half a century after the death of Gibbons the settings of the canticles had become merely meaningless collections of short 'points'; and, instead of running on with dignified continuity, the music came to be broken up into a number of small sections, for voices soli alternately with, or in frequent contrast to, short choruses. The influence of the French school, which had the

��SERVICE.

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�� ��most disastrous effects on English anthems, affected the services also, though to a lesser de- gree. The services of Purcell and Blow may be considered typical of both the virtues and vices of this school, melodious, but restless and pur- poseless.

Seven years before the death of Blow a man was born, who, without possessing any special musical gifts, was destined to bring about a vast change in the character of services; that man was the very second-rate Charles King. The only possible way of accounting for the enormous popularity of his services is to view them as a protest against contrapuntal devices, and as a restoration of simplicity, even if the simplicity is closely allied to weakness. "To the influence of King we probably owe two short but beautiful settings from the pen of Dr. Boyce (who died about thirty years after him) ; one is in the key of C, the other in A.

The next development of the form and character of services was the forerunner of the present 'dramatic' school. Attwood deserves an im- portant place in any sketch of the history of services for his bold attempt to attach to the words music which should vary as their character. This had of course been done to some extent before his time, but nearly always with a polite leaning to the conventionalities of the past; Attwood struck out a fresh path. This fact should be borne in mind by those who are dis- posed to criticise severely the weak points in his services. Attwood died in 1838, and we soon find ourselves face to face with S. S. Wesley, whose Service in E has been, and is, a model for many living writers ; and he has been followed by a large group of living composers, all of whom are striving to produce services in which the natural emotions called up by the character of the words shall be reflected in unartificial music. From the above sketch it will be seen that the service has gone through some such stages of growth as the following :

i . Early simple harmonic (Tallis, Patrick, and others).

a. Early contrapuntal (Gibbons and others).

3. Late contrapuntal (Blow, Purcell, and

others).

4. Late simple harmonic (King, Boyce, and

others).

5. Modern dramatic (Attwood, Wesley, and

others).

Yet these divisions, although well-marked in the works of the leaders of each school, are com- pletely broken down by that large number of composers who have either followed some pre- vious school implicitly, or have combined the characteristics of several.

It has already been stated that Gibbons had but few imitators, yet his influence on both Child and Creyghton is distinctly marked. These two musicians were born early in the 1 7th century, Child in 1606, Creyghton in 1639. ^he services by Child in the keys of F and G followed the cheerful bright character of Gibbons ; the same remark applies to the well-known Service in Eb

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