Music for Epiphany 3 — Sunday January 22 2023

O sing joyfully – Adrian Batten (1591-1637)


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Adrian Batten was a contemporary of Orlando Gibbons and Thomas Weelkes. They all composed in the early 1600s and wrote anthems in English for the Anglican Church. Batten may be less celebrated than the other two, but he was Vicar Choral at both Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Batten and his contemporaries were active during an important period of Anglican church music, between the English Reformation and the English Civil War of the 1640s. During this period the liturgical music of the first generations of Anglican composers began to diverge significantly from music on the continent. O sing joyfully, Batten’s four-part setting of the first four verses of Psalm 81, this morning’s communion motet, is sung by countless church choirs in every English-speaking country. It is irresistible, with its melodic invention, word-painting (“blow up!”), and just plain joyfulness!

O sing joyfully unto God our strength: make a cheerful noise unto the God of Jacob.

Take the song, bring hither the tabret: the merry harp with the lute.

Blow up the trumpet in the new moon: in the time appointed, and upon our solemn feast day.

For this was made a statute for Israel: and a law of the God of Jacob.

Gerald Harder