14 October 2017 - Choral Evensong

Recorded on
Saturday, 14 October 2017

​Purcell wrote several anthems at different times for John Gostling's extraordinary basso profondo voice, which is known to have had a range of at least two full octaves, from D below the bass staff to the D above it. The dates of very few of these sacred compositions are known, but perhaps the most notable example is the anthem featured in this service: "They that go down to the sea in ships". In thankfulness for a providential escape of the King from shipwreck, Gostling, who had been of the royal party, put together some verses from the Psalms in the form of an anthem, and requested Purcell to set them to music. The work is a very difficult one, including a passage which traverses the full extent of Gostling's voice, beginning on the upper D and descending two octaves to the lower.

John Gostling was an alumnus of St John's College, Cambridge: he gained a BA degree in 1672-3 and was later ordained at Ely Cathedral. It is though that he sang with the Choir whilst he was here.

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