White: O praise God in his holiness
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White is best remembered today for his sacred compositions in Latin – mainly hymns, antiphons and large-scale settings of psalms and Lamentations. Little of his English output survives, and much of what does has conflicting attributions. The lateness of most of the sources, and the fact that there were composers with the same surname (e.g. 'Matthew' and 'William') who were roughly contemporary, has made certitude on matters relating to the canon of White's English texted works elusive. Even Robert Dow, an early copyist working c1581 and usually a reliable witness with regard to ascriptions, sows seeds of doubt about the authorship of one of the two White anthems in his collection by omitting the composer's Christian name at the end of Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle. Similar uncertainties surround O praise God in his holiness in that only two of the partbooks attribute the piece to White, and both omit his first name. The confusion is compounded by the fact that there also exists an eight-part version of the same setting (though with significant differences) that nearly all the sources ascribe either to William or simply to Mr White. That said, it is plain from stylistic and source-related considerations that the eight-part redaction is much later, and that it is not the work of Robert, despite its re-use of some thematic material from the original four-part version. The latter bears all the hall-marks of an early work in the White canon, with its lock-step structure, fondness for literal restatement of imitative points, and even a pair of consecutives (bar 14, repeated in 18); it cannot be later than the early 1560s. The arrangement for double choir was probably made c1600 by some unknown choirmaster to enhance and update the older setting for performance on some important ecclesiastical occasion.
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