Rice University

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Thesis Defense

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Shepherd School of Music

Speaker: Andrew Salyer
Masters Candidate

“Grave, solemn, & fitted to devotion”: Anglican Church Music 1688 – 1727

Monday, April 3, 2017
11:00 AM  to 1:00 PM

2233  Alice Pratt Brown Hall


My thesis explores how English church composers between 1688 and 1727 engaged with the wide-spread religious and cultural objective for moderation and tolerance, in order to avoid repeating the destructiveness of seventeenth-century religious division between Catholics, Anglicans, and Nonconformists. Sermons written around the turn of the eighteenth century are particularly valuable because they illustrate this moderate temperament, and a number of them also defend and support Anglican sacred music, which had been a highly divisive issue in the seventeenth century. For English church composers to have their music approved of and accepted, preachers and writers cautioned them to avoid imitating French and Italian-style secular music, which was decried as the “theatrical style,” and encouraged them to maintain, in the words of William Croft (1678 – 1727), the “Solemnity and Gravity of what may properly be called the Church-Style.” There were two methods that composers used to attain the grave and solemn style: the first was choice of text, where they favored penitential psalms, or selectively chose mournful verses from non-penitential psalms; the second was the cultivation of a distinctive style that avoided text painting, but emphasized syllabic setting, slower tempos, and the repetition of mournful words within anthem movements for ensembles of voices.

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