We have joined with Classic FM to present a very special premiere, and a piece of music that perfectly matches our time in history ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III: Byrd's O Lord, Make Thy Servant Charles.
The Sixteen and Classic FM, have today revealed a special recording of Byrd’s well-known O Lord, Make Thy Servant (Elizabeth) in an edition to mark the Coronation of His Majesty The King – O Lord, Make Thy Servant Charles. The anthem, composed by William Byrd around 1570, was originally written to celebrate the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and is now heard in a version commemorating the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.
O Lord, Make Thy Servant (Elizabeth) enjoyed popularity throughout Byrd’s lifetime (whose 400th anniversary is marked this year) and in recent years the work was resurrected to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It seems fitting that this work should be performed under the name of her son Charles, ahead of his Coronation on Saturday 6th May.
O Lord, Make Thy Servant Charles was performed at St John’s College Chapel, Cambridge, and conducted by The Sixteen’s Founder and Director Harry Christophers. The exclusive world premiere broadcast will take place shortly after 10am today (Thursday 27th April) on Classic FM during Alexander Armstrong‘s programme and the performance will be available to view on Global Player.
Anthems composed to celebrate the good health and prosperity of sovereigns became known as King’s Day Anthems and were frequently performed on the anniversary of the Sovereign’s accession. At the time, it was common for anthems to be reused for each new monarch, and for regnal names to be replaced in manuscripts.
Though the original manuscript of this anthem did not survive, it is one of eleven Byrd anthems to be included in John Barnard’s rare work First Book of Selected Church Music (1641). The text was adapted for use throughout the reign of Charles I.
Musician and historian Alan Duffield, along with Harry Christophers, came across this piece at the British Library, and in a manuscript at Lambeth Palace Library. These vital resources were used as the basis for this performance.
The original anthem, O Lord Make Thy Servant Elizabeth, and a specially commissioned work by Cecilia McDowall in honour of the late Queen feature on The Sixteen’s new album, Coronation – Music for Royal Occasions.