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 Re
pond, 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