Orlando Gibbons – O Lord, in thy wrath

O Lord, in thy wrath is a very slow paced melancholic, sad sounding piece for 6 voices (Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto I, Alto II, Tenor and Bass). It has an F-minor key signature and is mostly consonant sounding. There are nevertheless a few dissonances, which are always being resolved into a consonant chord. Gibbons furthermore often uses accidentals to create more varied, colourful sounds.

I was able to divide this piece into 6 parts. The transition from one part to another is more fluently in comparison to other pieces I’ve listened to so far, which made it a bit harder to find a start and an end of a new part.

The first part makes a soft start with only soprano I singing an f, shortly followed by a brief dissonance, created by Alto II singing an f and Soprano I singing a g. This dissonance is resolved shortly after. The timing of this part is different for every voice, but its en can be seen by the two Sopranos and Alto I forming a F-minor chord in bar 12.

The first entry for the second part is performed by Alto II in bar 11 already, the theme of this part is slightly different, still as dramatic as the first part, but with some small positive effective sides. For the whole part all voices have different timed entries, which makes it admittedly difficult to understand the text, but therefore the voices form rather beautiful harmonic chords. The end of this part can be found in bar 17, where Soprano I, Alto II, Tenor and Bass come to an end, whilst Soprano II and Alto I start with the next part.

In part 3 the voices seem to work together more, rather than against one another. There are always 2 or three voices which perform at similar times with the same text (the notes don’t have the exact same time values though). In bar 23 all the voices land on a half note which form a F-major chord, making a nice change to the minor piece.

The forth part starts simultaneously for Soprano I, II and Alto I, but as soon as the other voices start to singing, those first three voices start distributing again. This part ends in bar 30 where again, a f-minor chord is being formed.

The most interesting thing about the fifth part, is that, most of the time all the voices sing the same text at the same time, with only a few deviations. Towards the end of that part, the voices get distributed a tiny bit again, which makes it very unclear where exaclty the last part starts, but one could probably say, that the change from part 5 to part 6 is in bar 41.

The last part works the other way round the previous one did: The voices are more distributed at the beginning, but come together towards the end of the piece to form another F-major chord, which gives the piece a surprisingly positive end.

Even though it is rather slow I really enjoyed listening to this piece, due to its dramatic character. The fact that the voices sometimes ended on a major chord gave quite nice changes to the otherwise minor piece.

A score of the piece provided by James Gibb can be found under the following link : http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/images/9/95/Gibbons_Hosanna.pdf