PURCELL - STARR; 'Bell Symphony' (anthem by Henry Purcell arranged for orchestra by Mark Starr)

Henry Purcell
Year of composition
Moderate (Grades 4-6)
3 minutes
Classical music

When Henry Purcell was Master of Choristers at Westminstger Abbey, he composed an anthem for organ entitled "Rejoice in the Lord." According to British Purcell scholar and organist Dr. William C. Carl, the descending diatonic C-Major scale that repeats in the bass line (and eventually makes its way to the melody) was Purcell's attempt to imitate the Westminster Abbey chimes. Since many 20th Century church organs incorporate a set of chimes, Dr. Carl suggested that modern-day organists should link these chimes to the pedals "to enhance the effect."

I have taken up Dr. Carl's suggestion by adding a set of orchestral tubular bells to my orchestration for string orchestra, solo trumpet and harpsichord continuo.

In his published edition of 1917 for organ, Dr. Carl also gave this anthem the nickname "The Bell Symphony," and it has stuck to the piece to this day.

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