Two anthems premiered


Two pieces of mine – both, as it happens, Annunciation carol arrangements found in fifteenth-century English manuscripts – were premiered this week: an satb setting of ‘Tydynges trew’ (Oxford, Bodleian MS Eng.poet.e.1), and an sab setting of ‘Nova, nova’ (Glasgow, Hunterian Museum MS 83). Both follow the musical reading given in the New Oxford Book of Carols, i.e. with charming ‘irregularities’, though in each case this is just one interpretation of notation that is imprecise or corrupt in the originals.

The simple text of ‘Nova, nova’ was updated felicitously (I would say improved) by Fr Carl Daw for the Hymnal 1982; ‘Tydynges trew’ can bear an updated reading here and there (I made one such emendation) to maintain its overall rhyme scheme in modern pronunciation but is otherwise a longer, more intricate, more literary (making more extensive use of Latin), and more telling text, containing lines such as ‘Hayle temple off deitie and myrrour off all grace’ (an inconsistently applied interior rhyme scheme makes me wonder whether the text was garbled before being written down in this MS).

My thanks to the Voices of St David’s and the St David’s Singers, respectively, for presenting these pieces so beautifully.