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George Frideric Handel

George Frideric Handel Composer

Coronation Anthems, HWV258-261

Performances: 48
Tracks: 142
  • Coronation Anthems, HWV258-261
    Year: 1727
    Genre: Other Choral
    Pr. Instruments: Chorus/Choir & Orchestra
    • 1.Zadok the priest, HWV258
      • 1.Chorus: Zadok the Priest
      • 2.Chorus: And all the people rejoic'd
      • 3.Chorus: God save the King
    • 2.Let thy Hand be Strengthened, HWV259
      • 1.Let thy hand be strengthened
      • 2.Let justice and judgement
      • 3.Alleluia
    • 3.The King shall Rejoice, HWV260
      • 1.The King shall Rejoice
      • 2.Exceeding Glad Shall He Be
      • 3.Glory and Great Worship
      • 4.Alleluia
    • 4.My heart is inditing, HWV261
      • 1.My Heart is Inditing
      • 2.King's Daughters
      • 3.Upon Thy Right Hand
      • 4.Kings Shall be thy Nursing Fathers
Zadok the Priest is one of four anthems composed by Handel for the coronation of George II, which took place on October 11, 1727. Handel was commissioned to write the music required for the service because of an interregnum in the post of organist and composer to the Chapel Royal, the incumbent of which traditionally composed the music for such occasions. The event in Westminster Abbey was one of great magnificence and splendor, involving forces larger than Handel had used. They included a chorus of 40 and an orchestra reported to have numbered 160, including trumpets, oboes, bassoons, and timpani. Zadok the Priest, the text of which is taken from the first chapter of 1 Kings in the Old Testament, was the anthem traditionally performed during the Anointing, previous settings including one by Henry Lawes used at the coronations of both Charles II, in 1661, and James II, in 1685. Handel's is a much more elaborate and striking work, dependent for its huge impact on cumulative effect and the great coup de théâtre achieved when the chorus' powerful declamatory outburst at the opening words interrupts the extended orchestral introduction. The anthem quickly became by far the most popular of the four, established in the repertoire as simply the Coronation Anthem, and a work performed on nearly every celebratory occasion. In 1784, it took center stage at the massive Handel Commemoration, and its special place in British ceremonial has been underlined by its inclusion in every coronation service since that of George II.

© All Music Guide

3.The King shall Rejoice, HWV260

The British coronation ceremony has survived essentially unaltered for nearly a thousand years, and Handel's four magnificent Coronation Anthems occupy an illustrious place in its history. The most popular of the set, Zadok the Priest, has been performed at every coronation since it was first heard at the 1727 coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline. The King Shall Rejoice (HWV 260) was also written for this same royal occasion and was specifically intended for the part of the service during which the new monarch receives the crown. The King Shall Rejoice takes its texts (almost word for word) from the Book of Psalms (Ps. 21) and is divided into four sections. The opening sequence based on the first stanza of the Psalm leads to a setting of "Exceeding Glad Shall He Be." After this comes a heaven-storming declaration for full choir and orchestra of "Glory and Worship," before the anthem ends with a final, majestic "Alleluia." The scoring gives special prominence to ceremonial clarino trumpets, which add nobility and brilliance to the most opulent moments, as does the use of the organ. Some sources affirm that it was at the insistence of King George himself that Handel provided the anthems for his coronation. However, organist Maurice Greene was senior to Handel in the royal musical establishment and felt that he, rather than a foreigner, should have been accorded the honor. Handel was also offended when several bishops sent him the Biblical texts for the anthems. He resented any inference that he did not know his scriptures well enough to make his own selections and wrote back saying "I have read my Bible very well, and shall choose for myself." Nor, if some who attended are to be believed, was the event itself a complete musical success. Handel himself presided over a vast orchestra of over 150 players, but had a mere 50 or so singers at his disposal. This fact, combined with the reverberant acoustics of London's Westminster Abbey, probably ccasioned Archbishop of Canterbury William Wake's complaint (noted down on his Order of Service) "The anthems in confusion; all irregular in the music." Even so, the occasion was a remarkable patriotic spectacle, and it is easy to appreciate that this impressive music must have left its first hearers awestruck.

© All Music Guide

4.My heart is inditing, HWV261

The 1727 coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline in 1721 was one of the most magnificent of British crownings. These are festive compositions written for large forces: All the royal musicians (who generally served in smaller numbers by rotation) were gathered, and amounted to such numbers that additional galleries were needed to hold them. The four anthems are "Zadok the Priest, " a shortish single-movement piece in three sections of finely judged increasing jubilation, "Let thy Hand be Strengthened, " "The King shall Rejoice, " and "My Heart is Inditing, " which is more associated with the ascension of the Queen. The last three named are all multi movement pieces; all include festive trumpets and drums except "Let thy Hand be Strengthened." The reason for this is probably that these instruments had been sent outside to accompany the "Recognition, " which is when the new King is presented to the people. These are some of the most brilliant, festive, and thrilling choral compositions of the entire Baroque era.

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