James Whitbourn's Beatus Vir for SSATB choir with a Piano accompaniment for rehersal.
Commissioned for the Choir of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton. First performed on St Matthew’s Day, 21 September 2017, conducted by Justin Miller.
"With the wedding season soon to be upon church musicians, James Whitbourn’s new five-minute wedding anthem, Set me as a seal upon thine heart, deserves a warm welcome. It would be easy to learn quickly if rehearsal time is limited, with vocal lines that are not demanding and helpfully supported by the organ. But the music itself has a haunting, intense beauty that is very special. Judge for yourself with the performance on YouTube that appears to have been made at the wedding for which it was written.
St Matthew, Northampton, for which Walter Hussey commissioned so notably, continues an enterprising music commissioning policy, most recently with Whitbourn’s setting of Beatus Vir. The commission was for the feast day of St Matthew last September and the published score describes the text as being the Gradual for St Matthew. But that rather limits what is simply the first two verses of Psalm 112 and deserves to be sung throughout much of the church year. Forget Monteverdi and other lively settings of Beatus vir: here we have a contemplation on how blest is the person who trusts in the Lord. Despite a dramatic outburst on ‘potens in terra’ (‘mighty in the land’), the work ends as it began with an extended, gentle setting of the word ‘Beatus’." - Sunday by Sunday