Almighty and everlasting God – Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
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Orlando Gibbons, like his contemporary William Byrd, was primarily a keyboard player. Gibbons was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, under the direction of his brother, and went on to be senior organist at the Chapel Royal. He was made a Doctor of Music at the University of Oxford in 1622, and the following year was appointed organist at Westminster Abbey.
Gibbons’ Almighty and everlasting God (today’s communion motet in church), while still syllabic, has a more complex texture than many choral works of the Tudor period. Choosing the Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany from the Book of Common Prayer as his text, Gibbons gives us a classic display of four-part writing at its most transparent: moving from tonic to dominant by exactly the half-way point, before moving back again for the final cadence.
Almighty and everlasting God,
mercifully look upon our infirmities,
and in all our dangers and necessities
stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.