Difficulty level: 3
Britten wrote few canticle settings, only two Te Deums, two settings of the Jubilate and a Venite which was not published in his lifetime. He wrote no settings of the Evening Canticles for the Anglican rite. The settings we have are therefore all the more precious and, as always, show the originality of his creative mind. The opening page sets the scene and introduces the pedal syncopated ostinato which underpins the whole of the first section and the 'reprise' when it comes after the contrasting central section. The voices climb from the bass up to soprano in quietly urgent statements of 'Wepraise you' and build to a huge climax at 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth'. The central section is given to a treble or soprano soloist with the choir reinforcing his or her phrase ends with quietly urgent chords and the words 'O Christ!' Longer phrases develop and lead to the reintroduction of the pedal ostinato and the initial choral material. Another thrilling climax is reached before the beautiful quiet ending.
This is an outstanding setting of these much-set words and it should be far morewidely performed.
Duration: 9 minutes