Adrian Batten was one of the most prolific composers of English church music during the early years of the seventeenth century. He was baptised in Salisbury in 1591 and served as a chorister at Winchester Cathedral. From 1614 until his death in 1637 he held lay-clerk posts at Westminster Abbey and, later, St Paul's Cathedral where he is thought to have taken over the duties of Organist. During these years he may well have compiled the so-called 'Batten Organ Book' (St Michael's College, Tenbury MS 791, now housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford), a most important source of church music of the late-Elizabethan and early-Stuart periods. Despite the popularity of his music, be appears never to have secured a coveted position as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal.
His music was very widely circulated during his lifetime. Some sixty-eight anthems survive, with comparatively few being too incomplete to allow reconstruction. He also wrote eight services: four fuU and four verse settings.
Batten's period of office in St. Paul's cathedral coincided with changing patterns of worship brought about through the influence of such figures as William Laud, Bishop of London and later Archbishop of Canterbury. The composer was evidently at the forefront of these developments for be included in his Second Verse Service settings of the Venite, Te Deum laudamus, Jubilate, Commandments and Creed, Preces and festal psalms, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis to satisfy the growing need for fully choral services at the cathedral.
Two distinct versions of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis have survived. (see page 22 for details) The more complete reading in the Durham manuscripts forms the basis for this edition.The other version is extant in a set of part books copied by John Barnard, a colleague of Batten's at St. Paul's. It is a matter for regret that this revised and extended setting of the evening canticles is too fragmentary to merit reconstruction, given the close working relationship between scribe and composer. In scope the Evening Canticles resemble the more extended and musically ambitious Third Service rather than the compact First and Fourth Verse Services.
This edition marks the first appearance in print of the Evening Canticles from Batten's Second Verse Service.
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