The syllabic word-setting in My shepherd is the living Lord suggests that it dates from the composer's early years; Amner's later works demonstrate a more elaborate approach. It survives only in the Chirk Castle group of manuscripts now housed in two locations: the New York Public Library and Christ Church, Oxford (see page 14). The five-stanza text, set in its entirety by Amner, is a metrical version of Psalm 23 from Sternhold and Hopkins's The Whole Book of Psalms, first published in 1549 and a popular source of anthem texts. Each verse section is followed by a chorus which reworks the preceding verse material, so parallelling Tomkins's similarly calm and reflective version of the same text; Tomkins set only the first, second and fifth stanzas, however. In contrast with Amner's economical vocal writing, the anthem's organ part is more complex. This may imply that the work was originally conceived for voices and viols, like a number of his other verse anthems, and that the surviving organ part could have been derived from instrumental parts.
The editor suggests that, if My shepherd is the living Lord is considered too long for liturgical performance, bars 44-83 may be omitted.
This edition marks the first appearance in print of Amner's My shepherd is the living Lord.
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