Purcell remembered: The history of the autographed manuscript of Purcell’s Te Deum & Jubilate for Voices and Instruments Made for St. Cecilia’s Day 1694

December 15, 2016
Ray Heigemeir
The autograph from the 17th century manuscript of Purcell’s Te Deum & Jubilate for Voices and Instruments Made for St. Cecilia’s Day 1694. “Fini, Mr. Henry Purcell.”

Henry Purcell. Te Deum & Jubilate for Voices and Instruments made for St. Cecilia’s Day 1694

Memorial Library of Music, MLM 850

Guest blogger: Michael Evans Kinney

While not much is known about the early St. Cecilia’s Day celebrations circa 1683, England’s premier composer, Henry Purcell (1659-1695), wrote many pieces for the festivities. In 1694, he wrote one such piece, titled Te Deum & Jubilate for Voices and Instruments made for St. Cecilia’s Day 1694. The landmark work sets an English translation of the St. Ambrose Hymn and revolutionized church music with its scoring for violins, viola, basso continuo, and two trumpets, with soloists and choir.

Purcell originally wrote the piece not for St. Cecilia’s Day, but for a Thanksgiving service to celebrate the return of King William III after a string of military successes. However, the use of instruments in the Royal Chapel was forbidden, and Purcell, not wanting to upset the Court, chose not to premiere the piece for this occasion.[1] As a result, the St. Cecilia’s Day celebration of 1694 marked the first time that instruments were used in English church music.

The piece continued to be performed both for Thanksgiving services between 1702 and 1713 and for the Festival of the Sons of the Clergy, which took place annually at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Purcell’s Te Deum and Jubilate in D was a mainstay for this festival from 1697 (even inspiring a special print edition of the score) to 1713 when Handel’s Te Deum setting composed for the Peace of Utrecht took London by storm. From this point on, Purcell’s setting had to compete with Handel’s, which was much more fanciful.

Bookplate of the Manuscript, reading: “Arthur F. Hill F.S.A./ Alive – I was a silent thing/ But dead, divinest themes I sing/ C. W. S. R. E. 1905.” The only known autographed manuscript of this piece is currently housed at Special Collections and University Archives at Stanford University, and has been used in the preparation of modern transcriptions of the piece. The provenance of the manuscript is attributed to Frederick Bridge and Arthur Frederick Hill. Bridge was an organist and composer who was organ and choir master at Westminster Abbey beginning in 1875, while Arthur Frederick Hill was an instrument builder with W. E. Hill and Sons. We know that Bridge, while organist at Westminster Abbey, commissioned Hill and Sons to build a new organ. Bridge was probably in possession of the manuscript first; he had organized a festival of Purcell’s music in celebration of the bicentennial of his death in 1895.[2] The bookplate in the front cover of the manuscript, however, suggests that at some point Hill was in possession of it.

Bridge vehemently wrote in 1895 that the arrangement of Purcell’s Te Deum and Jubilate in D that had been made by composer William Boyce in the mid 18th century spoiled Purcell’s composition.[3] In a brief statement published in The Musical Times in 1895, he notes that with his new edition of Purcell’s score that he was preparing from the autographed manuscript, he hoped to restore Purcell’s original sound. While Bridge asserts that this is the original autographed manuscript, it is more likely a fair copy, as it is written in three distinct hands, two being known copyists of Purcell.[4]

The manuscript was bound between 1869 and 1939. This was determined by the active dates of the company that bound the manuscript and the paper that was used in the binding process. Watermarks on the paper reading “MBM” tell us that this paper was made by Arches® Paper. This watermark was only used by the company starting in 1869 and refers to the initials of the three owners, Morel, Bercioux and Masure. The binding was by Rivere & Son, whose active dates were 1829-1939. These dates correspond with the dates of both Bridge and Hill, further suggesting that one of them had the manuscript bound. The 1905 date at the bottom of the bookplate suggests that it was bound perhaps around this year, but we cannot be certain from this alone.

Watermark reading “MBM” from Arches® Paper
Watermark reading “MBM” from Arches® Paper 
Indication of the binders
Indication of the binders

The manuscript has been used often in the preparation of new editions as it is the only known autographed manuscript. There are pencil markings throughout the manuscript, correcting and clarifying some points in the music. Since the 1920s, the Purcell Society has made strong efforts to preserve the composer’s original sound through scholarly editions of his scores (see the 32 volume The Works of Henry Purcell and Complete Index of Works [London: Novello, 1961-present]). The manuscript has been an important document in the current perception and understanding of Purcell’s work.

With thanks to Astrid Smith, Rare Book and Special Collections Digitization Specialist, and the Digital Production Group for providing downloadable images of this manuscript.

Michael Evans Kinney Guest blogger Michael Evans Kinney is a PhD student in Musicology at Stanford University. His work on late-19th, 20th, and 21st century vocality focuses on issues of divadom and the aging process.

[1] William Weber, The Rise of Musical Classics in Eighteenth-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual, and Ideology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 111.

[2] Anonymous, “Sir F. Bridge,” The Times (19 March, 2016), accessed 15 Dec., 2016.

[3] J. F. Bridge, “Purcell’s Te Deum” The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular 36, no. 626 (April 1, 1895): 263. Original emphasis.

[4] Margaret Laurie and Bruce Wood (eds.), The Works of Henry Purcell, Volume 23: Services, (London: Stainer & Bell, 2013) xv-xvi.