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Weelkes: Gloria in Excelsis Deo for SSAATB unaccompanied

Weelkes: Gloria in Excelsis Deo for SSAATB unaccompanied

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Gloria in excelsis Deo by Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Edited by Collins


Gloria in excelsis Deo by Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623) Edited by Collins Weelkes' six-voiced Gloria in excelsis Deo is in some ways even atypical among his other full anthems. In many of its contemporary sources, the piece is macaronic, juxtaposing texts in two different languages. The section that both opens the anthem and recurs later sets the Latin "Gloria" of the angels heralding Christ's birth; an anonymous English poetic meditation upon the angelic choirs sits between the two statements. The resulting ABA structure is rare but resembles two other prominent pieces from the time, Weelkes' own Alleluia I Heard a Voice, and his jubilant and sonorous Hosanna to the Son of David. The macaronic text precludes performance in most Anglican services of the time, suggesting either domestic or occasional use; at least one Jacobean choirmaster changed the text to one just in English, to make it more liturgically appropriate. Musically, Gloria in excelsis Deo also resembles Weelkes' other two macaronic anthems, in its towering sonorities. From the very outset, he carefully builds an expanding series of chords: the first solitary high note of a single voice part (as if an angelic trumpet) is gradually answered by voices expanding downwards through tonal space; then the choir's upper range slowly ascends in each successive phrase. The longer English section in the middle features numerous "madrigalian" touches such as octave leaps at the text "highest holy day" and "glory's highest key," and the richly jarring harmonic shift on "to tune thy heart." A repeat of the music and Latin text from the opening follows it, and an expansive and melismatic final "Amen" closes the anthem in rich sonic array.

Additional Information

Additional Information

Catalogue No. A0926
Publisher Oxford University Press
Contents No