Salisbury Musical Society to bring coronation anthems to the Cathedral

The Salisbury Musical Society will perform songs from the coronation at a special concert in Salisbury Cathedral on 24 June.

The concert was originally planned to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our late Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in June 1953.

Handel’s four Coronation Anthems were composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727. Probably the best-known of them is the first, Zadok the Priest, setting a Biblical text used at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973 to music.

The final anthem in Handel’s set was used at the point in the service when George II’s queen, Caroline, was crowned.

Parry’s well-known anthem, I was glad, was written for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902. It provides a link to Salisbury Musical Society in that the organist at its first performance was Sir Walter Alcock, who went on to become the organist in Salisbury and founder of the choir.

Parry’s ode, Blest Pair of Sirens, was written to celebrate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. This anthem has a text by the 17th century poet John Milton, unlike all the other pieces in the concert which are settings of texts from the Bible.

Elgar’s setting of Psalm 48, Great is the Lord, was not specifically composed for a royal occasion but rather for the “foundation or commemoration of a church, or for general use” and thus takes its place in this celebratory concert.

All of the music in the concert was first performed in Westminster Abbey with the exception of Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens.


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