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The Compound Anthem

The Prioress, in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, relates that a

Litel child his litel book lernynge,
As he sat in the scole in his primere,
He O alma redemptoris herde synge,
As children lerned her antiphonere:

From this we understand that O alma redemptoris was an "Antym" out of
the Antiphonere, or Anthem Book. This Anthem has six hexameter lines
followed by a Verse and Respond, and the Collect which we now use for
Lady Day. This, then, is what we have called the Compound Anthem.

A good example of it is found in the Prayer Book of 1549 where the
Easter Anthems, as we still call them, were ordered to be used in the
Morning afore Mattins. Their "setting" was as follows:

Christ rising again from the dead now dieth not: Death from henceforth
hath no power upon him. For in that he died, he died but once to put
away sin; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. And so likewise
count yourselves dead unto sin, but living unto God in Christ Jesus our

Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

Christ is risen again, the firstfruits of them that sleep. For seeing
that by man came death, by man also cometh the resurrection of the
dead. For as by Adam all men do die: so by Christ all men shall be
restored to life.


The Priest. Shew forth to all nations the glory of God.

The Answer. And among all people his wonderful works.

Let us pray.

O God who for our redemption didst give thine only begotten Son to the
death of the cross; and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us
from the power of our enemy: Grant us so {149} to die daily from sin,
that we may evermore live with him, in the joy of his resurrection;
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The history of the transformation of this Anthem into a Psalm, as it is
now used, may be given here. In 1552 its rubric was changed to the
present form: that is, it was no longer to be used before Mattins; it
was to be sung or said instead of Venite. The Verse, Respond and
Collect were omitted. In 1662 Gloria Patri was added, and the words
of 1 Cor. v. 7, 8 were inserted at the beginning.

The Easter Anthems, as now ordered, are most properly set as a Psalm.
With similar propriety, when they were used before the Service of
Mattins, they were set as a Prayer-Anthem--beginning with the jubilance
which is expressed by the twofold Hallelujah, and gradually modulating
the jubilance in preparation for the Service which followed.

Simple Anthems were so frequent, and their changes for special
occasions were so many, that they created some confusion and intricacy
in the old Services. We may, however, recognise the beauty and
worshipfulness of the plan. In the Visitation of the Sick, the words
O Saviour of the world &c. as used with Psalm lxxi. are a survival of
it. The verse Remember not Lord &c. was introduced at the beginning
of the same Service, as an Anthem to Psalm cxliii. The Psalm was
omitted in 1552, but its Anthem remains.

The singing of the Psalm and Anthem will be understood from the example
quoted above--the half choir which sang the Psalm was continually
interrupted by {150} the half choir which sang the Anthem. The
following illustration is quoted (by Martene) as of the 11th century.
In this case a verse of Magnificat was sung after each verse of the

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