Blessed is he that considereth the poor, probably composed in 1688, takes its text from Psalm 41. At this point in his career, Purcell was embarking on a theatrical career of providing plays with songs, catches, or incidental music. Set for three solo voices -- more than likely three male voices -- and continuo, it is full of elegance and harmonic text painting. Note how closely knit the three voices are on the text ‘The Lord comfort him …’, often being separated by no more than a fourth. The phrase that follows, 'make thou all his bed' highlights the dance-like quality by tossing about the word 'all' between the voices. In the ‘Gloria’, Purcell stretches out the doxology expertly by assigning it to each voice in turn, thus affixing each soloist as a member of the Trinity. The work concludes with a clever and remarkable falling series of fourths on the text 'World without end' counteracted by the florid, 'Amen'.
© Ryan Turner