Musica Sacra, Vol 1 (William Croft)

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General information

Publication date and place: 1724 by John Walsh in London.

Editor: William Croft

Size: 36cm high × 22cm wide.

Pages: 191 with additional end papers.

Musica Sacra in facsimile at the Petrucci Music Library (IMSLP)




Engraving of Dr Croft


Title page

Consisting of 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7 and 8 Parts:
To which is added,
The BURIAL-SERVICE, as it is now occasionally perform'd in Westminster-Abbey.
Compos'd by Dr. WILLIAM CROFT, Organist, Composer, and Master of the Children of His MAJESTY'S Chapel-Royal, and Organist of St. Peter's Westminster.
Printed for and sold by John Walsh, Servant to His Majesty, at the Harp and Hautboy in Catherine-street in the Strand; and John and Joseph Hare, at the Viol and Flute in Cornhill, near the Royal-Exchange.





This being the first Essay of publishing Church-Musick in England, after the Manner of Printing, wherein this Performance is done, it may not be improper to take Notice of some of the Advantages that may accrue to the Science in General from this Method of Publishing the same, as also the Benefit and Ease that Performers in this Way may receive, in Order to their Improvement in Musick, by having it laid before them in a complete and correct Score; But before I proceed to state that Matter in its due Light, it may be observed, That it is not for Want of excellent Compositions in Church-Musick, that We have as yet seen so few Instances of their being made Public in this Way (namely in Score): But for Want of the Art of regularly placing and ranging the Notes, a nicety which the old Way of Printing would not admit of. The old Musick (especially That which consisted of divers Parts, as three Parts, or more) was printed in, and performed from single Parts, allotted to each Performer by Himself: in which Way of Printing them, their Performances were liable to great Uncertainty; and besides, (for Want of Marking out their Musick properly by Bars,) great Mistakes were committed, both in their written and printed Copies, which not being easily reconciled for Want of a Score, some excellent Compositions have been rendered useless, and thereby the Names and Works of great Authors in the Musical Way, have, to their Own, and the publick Detriment, been buried in eternal Oblivion. Indeed, it must be own'd, that Mr. Purcel's Te Deum and Jubilate were printed in Score, but in a Manner quite different from that of the following Performance, by which Means the Faults and Omissions which were at the first committed, are continued through the whole Impression, some of which are so gross as not to be amended, but by some skilful Hand, by Reason whereof that Copy is of little Use to any Person not sufficiently skill'd to rectify the Mistakes therein. As to what concerns the frequent Transcribing Church-Musick, (the only Way hitherto made use of in Choirs, to continue the same); 'tis observable, that at this Day it is very difficult to find in the Cathedrals, any one Antient valuable Piece of Musick, that does not abound with Faults and Imperfections; the unavoidable Effect of their falling into the Hands of careless and unskilful Transcribers; which is an injury much to be regretted by all who have any Concern or Value for those great Authors, or their Works.

From this short View therefore of the Mischiefs of erroneous Printing and injudicious Transcribing of Church-Musick, and the Inconveniences arising from the Manner of Writing and Printing it in separate Parts and not in Score; it must necessarily follow, That this new Way of conveying the same to Posterity, by Printing it in a complete Score, will greatly tend to the Improvement and Advantage of Musick in general; which Art of Printing, by the indefatigable Industry of our present Undertaker, is brought to much greater Perfection in England, than in any other Part of Europe; the manifold Advantages whereof may best be known, and will be most effectually explained by the Use and Practice of it. But for the sake of some to whom this may not appear so obvious, I shall take Leave in this Place to mention a few Instances.

1. A moderate Artist may correct small Errors where there is a Score to direct him in the first Instance; but where Musick is given in separate Parts, in that Case, if Faults be committed therein, the whole must be transcribed in Score, in order to enable one to amend those Faults, and even then it will require the Judgment of a skilful Artist to find them out.

2. As to Performers, every one that is but indifferently skill'd in the Art of Singing, knows of what improving Advantage it is, at one View to see the Disposition of the Parts, and how they depend one upon another, to observe the Beauty of the Composure, and to know upon the slightest View the exact Point where evry Part takes Place, either in observing the Pauses or Rests, or filling up the vacant Spaces, by joining properly in the Harmony; and 'tis very obvious, that this Method of publishing Musick cannot but be most acceptable to the Judicious and Skilful, it being the only Way whereby They can be capable at one View to find out the Beauties, or discover the Imperfections of any Piece, which cannot in any wise be effected, if the Parts are kept separate.

When the Benefit and Advantage of this Way of Printing Church-Musick, shall, by Use and Practice, be better known and understood, some able Hand may be induced to procure and publish correct Copies in Score, of all that is valuable in the Church-Way; this it is conceived may be done with no great Expence, if he Cathedral Bodies would give Encouragement to it, by furnishing their Choirs with one Copy for every Performer of their respective Churches; or, if that be thought too much, one Book to a Part for each Side of the Choir, and so be supplied with them from Time to Time, as there shall be Occasion; This would probably be Encouragement to the Undertaker of this Work to engage in such a laudable Performance as the Preservation of Church-Musick, which Affair might be so well contrived and conducted, as that the Choral Bodies might be supplied with them in this correct and perfect State, at a much cheaper ate than is now paid for imperfect and erroneous Copies.

What was the State of Church-Musick before the Reformation, does not appear from any Memorials or Entries thereof, in Books remaining in any of our Cathedral Churches: The immortal Mr. Thomas Tallys, (who was Organist to the Court in the Reigns of King Henry VIII. King Edward VI. Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth) was the first that ever composed a Cathedral-Service in the English Tongue, from which excellent Work, justly esteemed at this very Day, We may conclude, that the Art of Musick was not Young in this Kingdom in his Days; We may therefore lament the Spoil and Havock that was made at the Reformation, as of Books of all other Kinds, so more especially of Church-Musick, which being composed to Words in an unknown Tongue, we may reasonably imagine, suffer'd more than ordinary Violence, from the Rage of those Times, when every thing that had the Appearance of Learning and Ingenuity was treated with Contempt, and indiscriminately destroyed, as being supposed to be tainted with Popery and Superstition; by Means whereof the Art of Musick, especially of Church-Musick, was brought so low, That were it not for a very few industrious Artists that apply'd themselves to the composing Musick to English Words, in the Way of Services and Anthems, for the Use of Churches, (at the Beginning of the Reformation,) The Solemnity, Gravity, and Excellency of Style, peculiarly proper to Church-Musick, had been utterly lost: But so it happened, That what was by Mr. Tallys so happily begun, was with great Succes carried on, by other great Masters, his Contemporaries and Successors, every Age having since produc'd one or more Persons famous in their Generation for reviving the Credit of that useful Art, who by their excellent Performances from Time to Time, have been able to lay a sure Foundation for the perpetual Improvement thereof. It is observable, That many of those valuable Works have suffered no other Injur from the Distance of the Timewherein they were composed, to the present Age, besides what they may have received from ill Performers, and fromcareless and unskilful Transcribers; nor has their real Worth and Value been eclipsed by any superior Excellency that has appeared in the Works of others, who have exhibited their Labours to the World in the more modern Times: But for Justness and Exactness in the Composure, according to the most strict and nicest Rules of Harmony, and for their Sublimity and Elegancy of Style, as they have hitherto been most justly esteemed and admired, so 'tis very proper that such Measures should be taken as may preserve Entire those worthy Monuments, not only in Consideration of their having been serviceable in Divine Offices in the several Ages through which they have pass'd, but as they likewise have been, and to future Ages may continue to be the Means of conveying great Light and Instruction to all succeeding Students in that noble and useful Science; By encouraging therefore the Publication of them in This Method, the World will in some Measure recompense the Labours of the worthy Authors by doing Justice to their Memories, and reap the Benefit thereof in the Satisfaction every one may receive in being possess'd of such valuable Pieces, published in the most correct Manner, at a very reasonable Expence, the only Way of making them truly useful and acceptable to latest Posterity.

Having spent most of the Time I could well spare from my other necessary Attendances and Avocations, in These Kind of Studies, and my Compositions having been received in the Performance with more Favour than I thought I had Reason to expect, I was easily prevailed upon to make them Publick, that other Choirs, besides those for which they were principally compos'd, might be furnish'd with them at easy Rates, in this correct and complete Manner.

At the End of this Volume is printed an Entire Burial-Service, which it is hoped will not be unacceptable, there being scarce any Thing of that Kind that is correct in any Cathedral in England; for Want whereof great Confusion and Perplexity in that Kind of Performance generally ensues, to the great Detriment and Disadvantage of these solemn Rites. In that Service there is one Verse composed by my Predecessor, the Famous Mr. Henry Purcell, to which, in Justice to his Memory, his Name is applied; the Reason why I did not compose that Verse a-new, (so as to render the whole Service entirely of my own Composition,) is obvious to every Artist; in the rest of That Service composed by me, I have endeavoured, as near as possibly I could, to imitate that great Master and celebrated Composer, whose Name will for ever stand high in the Rank of Those, who have laboured to improve the English Style, in his so happily adapting his Compositions to English Words in that elegant and judicious Manner, as was unknown to many of his Predecessors; but in this Respect both His and My worthy and honoured Master, Dr. Blow, was known likewise to excel.

I must acknowledge the great Advantages the several Anthems here published have received from the great Skill and fine Voices with which they have been performed, Mr. Elford's Name upon this Occasion must not be forgotten, who was a bright Example of this Kind, excelling all (as far as is known) that ever went before him, and fit to be imitated by all that come after him, he being in a peculiar Manner eminent for his giving such a due Energy and proper Emphasis to the Words of his Musick, as rendred it serviceable to the great End of its Institution, which loses much of its Force and Beauty, when by the Unskilfulness of either the Composer or Performer, the Words are rendred obscure and unintelligible, which Excellency of giving the Words their due Force (so conspicuous in all Mr. Elford's Performances) though it is one of the greatest Beauties and Ornaments of vocal Musick, (I am sorry to say) is not generally so well attended to, as it ought to be; though with great Truth and Justice it must be owned, that the present Age is not unfruitful of Persons deserving Well in this Respect, from whose excellent Performances the brightest Musick receives additional Spirit and Beauty, and even the Worst appears with Advantage. In all the following Compositions I have endeavoured to keep in my View the Solemnity and Gravity of what may properly be called the Church-Style (so visible in the Works of my Predecessors) as it stands distinguish'd from all those light Compositions which are used in Places more proper for such Performances; whether I have in any Degree discharged my self as I ought to do on this Head, must be left to the Judgment of others.

Notice: George R Whereas Our Trusty and Well-beloved William Croft, Doctor of Musick, and Organist to Our Chapels Royal; has humbly represented unto Us, that he hath with great Labour and Expence, composed several Anthems upon divers Occasions, for Voices and Instruments, for the Use of Our said Chapels; in order to be Printed and Published in two Volumes in Folio, and has humbly besought Us to grant him Our Royal Privilege and Licence for the sole Printing and Publishing thereof, for the Term of Fourteen Years; We being willing to give all due Encouragement to this his Undertaking, are graciously pleas'd to condescend to his Request; and We do therefore by these Presents, so far as may be agreeable to the Statute in that Case made and provided, grant unto him the said William Croft, his Executors, Administrators, and Assigns, Our Royal Licence for the sole Printing and Publishing the said Anthems for the Term of Fourteen Years, to be computed from the Date hereof; strictly forbidding all Our Subjects within Our Kingdoms and Dominions to reprint or abridge the same, either in the like, or in any other Volume or Volumes whatsoever; or to import, buy, vend, utter, or distribute any Copies thereof reprinted beyond the Seas, during the aforesaid Term of Fourteen Years, without the Consent or Approbation of the said William Croft, his Heirs, Executors, and Assigns, under their Hands and Seals first had and obtained, as they will answer the contrary at their Perils; whereof the Commissioners and other Officers of Our Customs, the Master, Warden, and Company of Stationers, are to take Notice, that due Obedience may be rendred to Our Pleasure herein declared. Given at Our Court at St. James's, the 30th Day of October, 1724. In the Eleventh Year of Our Reign. By His Majesty's Command,

Holles Newastle.

List of Works

Music engraving

Page Composer Work Voicing
1 William Croft Sing unto God A(SSATB)
10 William Croft Lord, what love have I SS
18 William Croft Sing unto the Lord AAB
31 William Croft We will rejoyce in thy salvation full
40 William Croft Out of the deep AB
49 William Croft Lord, thou hast searched me out ATB
67 William Croft The Lord is my strength and my song SATB
79 William Croft O Lord, rebuke me not SSATTB
87 William Croft We wait for thy loving kindness SSA
95 William Croft I will sing unto the Lord AB
102 William Croft Praise the Lord, O my soul ATB
116 William Croft Hear my prayer SSAATTBB
123 William Croft O be joyfull in God B
134 William Croft O Lord God of my salvation ATB
143 William Croft Rejoyce in the Lord SATB
177 William Croft The Burial Service: I am the resurrection and the life full
182 Henry Purcell Thou knowest, Lord full

Works at CPDL

Title Year Page Genre Subgenre Vo. Voices
Burial Service 1724 177 Sacred Anthems 4 SATB
Funeral Music for Queen Mary, Z 860 1724 182 Sacred Cantatas 4 SATB