If our choir were not currently sidelined, we would probably be singing this Sunday a setting of this week’s Collect an anthem composed by Orlando Gibbons: “Almighty and everlasting God.”
In addition to his stature as one of the finest composers of the Elizabethan period, Gibbons (1583–1625) was celebrated in his day as a master of keyboard music. When 21, he was appointed organist at the Chapel Royal, a post he held until his sudden death at the age of 41.
In 1623, Gibbons contributed 16 tunes for use in George Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church, an important collection of Elizabethan psalmody. Six of those tunes are in our Hymnal, including those to which we sing “Peace, perfect peace” (#436) and “Go, labor on!” (#573).
One of the most frequently sung anthems by Gibbons is his setting of the Collect for the Third Sunday after Epiphany:
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities: and in all our dangers and necessities, stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Here is a performance of Gibbons’s confident treatment of this text by a young ensemble that approximates in size our own (currently inactive) choir. The singers are the VOCES8 Scholars. (ask Margaret or Sarah James about them!)