Music for the Third Sunday After Epiphany — January 21, 2024

Almighty and everlasting God – Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

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Orlando Gibbons was one of the most important English composers of the early 17th-century. He was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, and later became a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, which he served as an organist and to which he later added the position of organist at Westminster Abbey. He wrote forty anthems, including the well-known This is the record of John; he is regarded as one of the great masters of the ‘verse’ anthem where solos for one or more voices are repeated and reinforced with short choral passages. On the other hand, this Sunday’s communion motet in church, Almighty and everlasting God, is an example of a ‘full’ anthem, in that it does not use solo voices. A setting of the Book of Common Prayer collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany, this is a suave development of the Edwardine anthem style of Tallis, Mundy and Sheppard.

Gibbons’ anthems and service settings represent a relatively small contribution to the Anglican choral repertoire, but their influence cannot be underestimated. At the restoration of the monarchy and established Church in 1660, Gibbons was the model for much new music, including services by William Child and John Blow.

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.

Gerald Harder