The restoration anthems of Henry Purcell and their political implications during the reign of Charles II (England)
Chelf, Linda Carol
Master of Music
Although the English anthem was the primary form of sacred composition in England during the Renaissance and early Baroque, it was not considered too sacred to be used as royalist propaganda. Text sources for the anthem came primarily from the Psalms, the Book of Common Prayer, and Scripture. Because many of the anthem composers were Gentlemen of the Chapel Royal, which was supported by the monarchy, the anthems sometimes reflected royalist views. Henry Purcell began writing anthems during the public hysteria generated by the Popish Plot, war with the Dutch, and fear of the French and the papacy. Although direct connections between specific events and specific anthems are speculative, there can be little doubt that the upheavals faced by the English monarchy influenced Purcell's compositions. Fourteen of Purcell's anthems written between 1678 and 1685 are discussed according to their political implications. Musical analysis of four representative anthems is provided.