Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne

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Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne (HWV 74) is a secular cantata composed by George Frideric Handel to a libretto by Ambrose Philips, of which the first line, "Eternal source of light divine", provides an alternative title for the work. It was probably composed during January 1713 for a performance on 6 February 1713, although there is no record of the performance having actually taken place.[1] Other catalogues of Handel's music have referred to the work as HG xlviA; and HHA i/6.[1]

Overview

The cantata celebrates Queen Anne's birthday, and the accomplishment of the Treaty of Utrecht (negotiated by the Tory ministry of Anne in 1712) to end the War of the Spanish Succession. It is scored for 3 solo voices, choir and chamber orchestra.

Queen Anne was said by the Duke of Manchester to be "too careless or too busy to listen to her own band, and had no thought of hearing and paying new players however great their genius or vast their skill."[2] Nevertheless, and whether or not she ever heard this ode for her birthday, she granted Handel a "pension" (subsidy for living expenses) of two hundred pounds a year, for life.[2]

Structure

Queen Anne
Ambrose Phillips, author of the text of "Eternal Source of Light Divine"
Handel, about 1720
Hampton Court Palace, Chapel, by Charles Wild, 1819 - royal coll 922125 313698 ORI 2

Each of the seven stanzas of the ode concludes with the following words sung by the chorus:

The day that gave great Anna birth,
Who fix'd a lasting peace on Earth.
  • (Alto solo with solo trumpet over sustained strings)
Eternal source of light divine
With double warmth thy beams display
And with distinguish'd glory shine
To add a lustre to this day.
  • (Alto solo, then chorus with orchestra)
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Soprano solo, then chorus with orchestra)
Let all the winged race with joy
Their wonted homage sweetly pay
Whilst towr'ing in the azure sky
They celebrate this happy day.
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Alto solo, then alto and soprano solo with chorus and orchestra)
Let flocks and herds their fear forget
Lions and wolves refuse their prey
And all in friendly consort meet
Made glad by this propitious day.
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Bass and alto duet, then chorus with orchestra. The ground bass of this movement with octave leaps was reused by Handel in his "Concerto a due cori".)
Let rolling streams their gladness show
With gentle murmurs whilst they play
And in their wild meanders flow
Rejoicing in this blessed day.
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Soprano and alto duet with solo oboe and orchestra)
Kind Health descends on downy wings
Angels conduct her on the way.
T'our glorious Queen new life she brings
And swells our joys upon this day.
  • (Alto and soprano, then chorus with orchestra)
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Bass solo, then chorus with orchestra)
Let envy then conceal her head
And blasted faction glide away.
No more her hissing tongues we'll dread
Secure in this auspicious day.
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.
  • (Alto solo then chorus with echo effects,solo trumpet and orchestra)
United nations shall combine
To distant climes their sound convey
That Anna's actions are divine
And this the most important day!
The day that gave great Anna birth
Who fix'd a lasting peace on earth.

Notable performances

On 23 August 2007 Kate Royal performed the aria "Eternal source of light divine" at the Proms.[3]

On 19 May 2018 Elin Manahan Thomas performed the aria "Eternal source of light divine" as the bridal entry music for the wedding of Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by the event's orchestra and with David Blackadder playing the trumpet obbligato.[4]

Selected recordings

Although composed for countertenor, the section "Eternal source of light divine" is often sung by sopranos. For example:

References

  1. ^ a b Hicks, Anthony (2001). Sadie, Stanley; Tyrrell, John, eds. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. x (2 ed.). London: Macmillan. p. 784. 
  2. ^ a b King, Robert. "Program notes for "Music for Royal Occasions'" (PDF). Hyperion Records. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Prom 52". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-05-25. 
  4. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (19 May 2018). "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal wedding: the order of service in full". Retrieved 20 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk. 

External links

  • Handel Week: Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne. (The complete programme, from the BBC Radio 3 series "Discovering Music", is not available, but there is a clip of "Eternal source of light divine"). BBC.
  • Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
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