Adrian Batten was one of the most prolific composers of English church music during the early decades 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. He may well have compiled the so-called 'Batten Organ Book', a most important source of church music of the late-Elizabethan and early-Stuart periods. Despite the popularity of his music, he appears never to have secured a coveted permanent position as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal.
Batten's works, all for the Anglican rite, include eight services and sixty-eight anthems. Four of the services are full settings, including one for men's voices and another of 'great' service proportions, while four are verse services*. His forty-four anthems for which music survives are equally divided between full and verse settings. The full anthems range in scope from concise four- and fivepart works to more extended six-, seven- and eight-part pieces. With his conservative and straightforward style, Batten was generally more at ease technically with smaller-scale works than more ambitious ones although the latter are often more imaginative and expressive.
John Barnard, a Minor Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in the early seventeenth century, would have known Batten well, particularly through his activities as a music editor and composer. His substantial anthology of English sacred music, The First Book of Selected Church Musick, published in 1641, comprises works by nineteen leading English composers of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Batten is represented by no fewer than six anthems, including his expressive Hide not thou thy face. The motifs of each succinct version of Batten's three vigorous four-part settings of 0 praise the Lord, all ye heathen are closely related. Although the first, published in Barnard's 1641 collection, was widely known in Batten's day, the second and third survive in just one source: an incomplete but important set of partbooks (Royal College of Music MSS 1045-51 - see page 10), also assembled by Barnard and containing no fewer than 174 sacred works.
This edition marks the first appearance in print of Batten's second setting of his full anthem 0 praise the Lord, all ye heathen.