Friday, July 23, 2010

English Anthems: Accessibility to the Parish Choir, Part I

English anthems are, for the most part, accessible to the listener since they are not particularly fancy with their one note per syllable philosophy.

But what about the parish choir? Here are some anthems that are often used in parishes. The first is "Lord, For Thy Tender Mercy's Sake" believed to be composed by Richard Farrant.

If you are looking to introduce a bit of polyphonic music but don't want to overwhelm your parish choir, consider this piece. It starts out almost choral and hymn like, then breaks into simple polyphony, with two voices taking off at a time.

A video with the musical score is not available at this time, but you can find any number of editions in public domain and available for download here.

Shown in the video below is clip of a quartet from a local parish. I have always served smaller parish choirs, and have successfully done this piece with as few as 6 people. If necessary, a keyboard accompaniment (either organ or piano) may be added. Here in the video, the organ introduces the piece, gives the tone for the quartet, then the quartet sings a capella.

Some arrangements features an "Amen" at the end. The "Amen" may or may not have been part of the original piece. Most likely it was added on later.


Lord, for Thy tender mercy's sake
lay not our sins to our charge,
but for give that is past
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives.
To decline from sin
and incline to virtue
that we may walk in a perfect heart
before Thee now and evermore.