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Sing some of Purcell's songs


Of the eight songs on this page, three are traditional, well-known folksongs. The other five are by Henry Purcell.

Many of Purcell's songs were written either for experienced professional soloists or for multiple-part choirs. These songs have been specially arranged for young voices. All the songs are featured in the audio presentation.  This page contains links to downloadable versions of the notated music. It also contains links to mp3 audio files, of the entire song, individual parts (where relevant) and accompaniment backing tracks for rehearsals. You can right click on the links and select 'save target as' to save the tracks.

Song 1: Oliver Cromwell

Music 1.pdf

This is a traditional Suffolk folk song.

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Song 2: Ring a ring a roses

Another traditional song, which some people believe is about the Great Plague, which struck London in 1665. Henry Purcell would have been six years old and would have witnessed much of the suffering.

Music 2.pdf

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Song 3: London's burning

This well-known song can be sung in a round. It recalls the Great Fire of London in 1666. During the fire, much of the London known to young Henry was destroyed.

Music 3.pdf

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Song 4: Hear my Prayer

This mournful anthem was composed by Henry Purcell, probably in 1685. Purcell composed it for double choir (eight independent voices). This resource contains two versions, a two-part edition, which is based on the upper two parts of Purcell's original and a unison version, which combines the two upper parts into one. This is probably the most challenging of the eight songs presented here. The two-part version is, musically, the most satisfying, though you may prefer to teach children the unison version. If you learn the two part version, you may find it most helpful to work in sectionals (i.e. one voice at a time) before putting the two parts together.

Unison version: Music 4a.pdf        Two-part version: Music 4b.pdf

LISTEN TO UNISON VERSION


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LISTEN TO TWO-PART VERSION

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LISTEN TO PART 1 

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LISTEN TO PART 2

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BACKING TRACK

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Song 5: Come ye sons of art 

This is a song from the ode written to celebrate Queen Mary's birthday in 1694. It was the last of the six odes written by Purcell, one for each year of Mary's reign. 

Music 5.pdf

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LISTEN TO THE BACKING TRACK


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Song 6: Come if you dare

This is a chorus from King Arthur, a semi-opera composed by Purcell, with a text by Dryden. King Arthur and Oswald, king of the Saxons, prepare for battle. The song describes the 'thundering drums' of the armies. It is in two parts, but can be sung in unison, without the second part.

Music 6.pdf

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LISTEN TO PART 1


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LISTEN TO PART 2


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BACKING TRACK


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Song 7: Catch

This is a catch, or round, probably by Purcell. Purcell wrote many catches, which he and his fellow musicians probably sung in taverns and drinking houses. The texts for some catches are rather rude, but this is simply a riddle about roman numerals. 

Music 7.pdf

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Song 8: Thou knowest, Lord
This song formed part of the music composed by Purcell for the funeral of Queen Mary. It was also sung at Purcell's own funeral, just a few months later. 

Music 8.pdf

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BACKING TRACK

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