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Weelkes: Te Deum laudamus ÔÇô fourth service

Weelkes: Te Deum laudamus ÔÇô fourth service

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Publisher: Cathedral Press
ISBN: CP45

The reconstruction of the Te Deum laudamus, the only known such setting of the time to include trebles, is facilitated by a number of related features in the evening canticles, notably: (i) the vocal ranges in both verse and chorus sections; (iii) the five-part scoring of the chorus sections in which the 'trebles' double the highest sounding organ part; (iii) the scoring of the verse material, in all but two cases, for one or two 'meanes' (the boy's voice of standard range) - the other voices deployed being two basses and a tenor; and (iv) characteristic cross-references between the movements, particularly the Te Deum and the Nunc Dimittist. The dialogue feature between meane soloist and chorus (bars 131-41) also occurs in the Gloria Patri of both evening canticles as well as in the parallel section of the composer's First Service [published by Cathedral Press: CP6].

Weelkes set the Te Deum text in five of his ten services. In three, a 'plainsong' intonation (to the words 'We praise Thee, 0 God') precedes the setting proper; the most familiar intonation, already in use as early as the 1540s, is derived from Sarum plaincbant. In the remaining two services, including the 'Fourth', the opening words are incorporated in the setting itself, as indicated by word cues in their organ parts. The voice parts in bars 1-5 of the present edition draw on the traditional intonation. The work abounds in examples of word painting, most strikingly at 'the sharpness of death' (bars 109-116) where the added sharp accidentals (originally notated as F#, G# and C#) provide visual as well as aural colouring. The remarkable 'dominant' final cadence (also at bars 87-9), recalling, perhaps unexpectedly, similar cadential treatment by John Sheppard (8 1535-60), occurs here uniquely in Weelkes's music.

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