“Hail! Bright Cecilia, Hail! fill ev’ry Heart! With Love of thee and thy Celestial Art; That thine and Musick’s Sacred Love May make the British Forest prove As Famous as Dodona’s Vocal Grove.”
Hail! Bright Cecilia (Z.328), also known as Ode to St. Cecilia, was composed to a text by Nicholas Brady by Henry Purcell in 1692 in honour of the feast day of Saint Cecilia, patron saint of musicians. Annual celebrations of this saint’s feast day (November 22) began in 1683, organized by the Musical Society of London, a group of musicians and music lovers. Purcell had already written Cecilian pieces in previous years, but this Ode remains the best known. The first performance was a great success, and received an encore.
In spite of Brady’s conceit of the speaking forest (It should be remembered that English organs of the period typically had wooden pipes), Purcell scored the warlike music for two brass trumpets and copper kettle drums instead of fife and (field) drum. The orchestra also includes two recorders (called flutes) with a bass flute, strings and basso continuo. Purcell is one of several composers who have written music in honour of Cecilia.
Henry Purcell (10 September 1659(?) — 21 November 1695), was an English organist and Baroque composer of secular and sacred music. Although Purcell incorporated Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, his legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music.
Taverner Consort and Players is a period instrument ensemble: baroque orchestra (Players), vocal consort (Consort) and Choir, named after the 16th century English composer John Taverner. Founded and directed by Andrew Parrott in 1973, the ensemble was led until the early 1990s by baroque violinist John Holloway, and has released many CDs.