Happy birthday, William

William Billings was born in Boston on October 7, 1746. Although he had little formal schooling and was largely self-taught as a musician, he became the most popular choral composer of his day. The primitive state of copyright law at the time prevented Billings from making enough money as a composer to quit his day job as a tanner, but music was always his first love. He was very active as an itinerant singing master, and he composed more than three hundred choral works, most of them settings of sacred texts. This performance of “O Praise the Lord of Heaven” was recorded at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, England.

O praise the Lord of heaven;
Praise Him in the height, praise Him in the depth.
O praise the Lord of heaven;
Praise Him all ye angels, praise Jehovah.

Praise Him, sun and moon and blazing comets;
Praise the Lord.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;
For He spoke the word and all were made;
He commanded and they were created.
Admire, adore.

Ye dragons whose contagious breath
People the dark abodes of death,
Change your dire hissings into heavenly songs,
And praise your Maker with your forked tongues.
O praise the Lord of Heaven.

Fire, hail, and snow, wind and storms,
Beasts and cattle, creeping insects, flying fowl,
Kings and princes, men and angels, praise the Lord.
Jew and Gentile, male and female, bond and free,
Earth and heaven, land and water, praise the Lord.
Young men and maids, old men and babes, praise the Lord.

Join creation, preservation, and redemption, join in one;
No exemption nor dissension,
One invention and intention reigns through the whole:

To praise the Lord.
Hallelujah, praise the Lord.

2 Responses to Happy birthday, William

  1. floridaborne says:

    A bit of history most of us might not know otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Somebody once said that much of Mozart’s music is easy to perform but hard to perform well.  The same might be said of Billings.  This group does it well.

    Liked by 1 person

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