Elgar Complete Edition

Volume 12
Sacred Music, unaccompanied or with keyboard

Elgar composed religious works throughout most of his life, his earliest being written as teenage experiments in composition and harmony, the latest composed within five years of his death. And they were numerous: alongside a bundle of seventeen fragments, sketches and a few fully drafted but not wholly finished works, this volume brings together 45 works, some in multiple arrangements for different voices, all of which Elgar appears to have completed to his own satisfaction. These are carefully chosen words because the works vary considerably in substance and scale, from major anthems such as the Te Deum and Benedictus and his two Psalm settings to his reharmonisation of simple hymn tunes, and they survive in a variety of forms.

Arguable the most intriguing works are settings of a number of familiar Latin texts, the main source for each of which is a complete draft full score, lacking articulation and text underlay and with only a rudimenary accompaniment. A parallel set of autograph vocal parts generally lacking an Alto part provides missing detail for other voices, while a non-autograph vocal score provides the Alto articulation - a jigsaw which through painstaking reconstruction provides a score which is complete in all except the accompaniment. And yet we know that most, possibly all of these works were performed at St George’s Church, Worcester during Elgar’s time there as organist. Did he consider it unnecessary to write down the simpler passages of an accompaniment he envisaged no-one but himself ever performing?

Few of the works in this volume will be familiar to readers: the four major works for which he also provided an orchestral accompaniment (to be published in Volume 12) and the early Ave Verum Corpus, no doubt; and perhaps some of his shorter settings of English text from his mature years - works such as I Sing the Birth and Good Morrow. But many of the works date from his time at St George’s where his responsibilities as organist not only required him to provide liturgical settings for the choir to perform but also provided him with the opportunity to develop his compositional skills. Inevitably, in her analysis of this previously unexplored territory, the volume’s editor, Diane Nolan Cooke, has come across many riddles and solved most of them. One work recorded many years ago as a Salutaris by Elgar has been found to be the work of an earlier hand, while four other, previously unattributed works have been shown by inductive reasoning to be beyond reasonable doubt original compositions by Elgar. While these newly discovered works may be of little consequence – three Litanies and a short Tantum Ergo based on an unidentified theme by Handel – these and other similarly minor discoveries coalesce to provide an intriguing picture of the budding composer struggling to escape from his provincial upbringing and launch himself on the path that would eventually lead to the works on which his reputation rests today, including the two major anthems from his prime, Great is the Lord and Give unto the Lord.

A full list of the works in the volume can be found overleaf. The volume, which comes complete with the customary apparatus of detailed source descriptions, commentaries and an introductory foreword, can be obtained through all good book stores and specialist music shops, or directly from the publisher. For details, visit the How to Purchase page.

Series I : Choral Works

Publication History

  • Publication date : 25 March 2019
  • Publisher : Elgar Works
  • ISBN : 978-1-904856-12-2 (hardback)

Detailed Description

  • Editor : Diane Nolan Cooke
  • Number of pages : xxiv + 407
  • Page size : 350 mm x 250 mm (portrait)
  • Number of illustrations : 13 (monochrome)
  • Binding : cloth (hardback)
  • Contents :
    • 40 complete full scores, re-originated in their entirety, of original works by Elgar:
      • His four major anthems for church service in their settings with piano accompaniment: Te Deum and Benedictus , Op.34; O Hearken Thou (Intende voci orationis meae ), Op.64; Great is the Lord (Psalm 48), Op.67; Give unto the Lord (Psalm 29), Op.74;
      • The three Anthems of Opus 2: Ave Verum/Jesu, Word of God Incarnate (SATB); Jesu, Word of God Incarnate (SSA); Ave Maria/Jesu, Lord of Life and Glory; Ave Maris Stella/Jesu, Meek & Lowly;
      • Three settings of O Salutaris Hostia in EƒÒ major, in F major and in G major;
      • Five other anthems and carols: Ecce Sacerdos Magnus; They are at Rest; Fear not, O Land; I sing the Birth; Good Morrow;
      • The following hymns, carols and anthems setting English words: Hear Thy children gentle Jesus' (to the tune Drakes Broughton); 'Now with the fast departing light'; 'Praise ye the Lord: on ev'ry height'; 'God of mercy and compassion'; 'O Thou true life of all that live'; and a Hymn tune in G major;
      • Four Litanies for the Blessed Virgin Mary and four previously unpublished original Litanies;
      • Four Anglican chants and a unique chant sequence;
      • Settings of Stabat Mater, Laudate Dominum, O mightiest of the mighty and Lo! Christ the Lord is Born;
      • Eight settings of familiar Latin texts with incomplete accompaniments: Gloria in F major on Mozart; Credos in A (on Beethoven) and E minor; Salve Regina; a Tantum Ergo in D major; Regina Coeli; Kyrie Eleison in D minor; and another O Salutaris Hostia in EƒÒ major.
    • 6 works for which Elgar provided new harmonisations, five for pre-existing hymn tunes, the sixth a Tantum Ergo on an unidentified theme by Handel.
    • Fragments and sketches for a further 17 unfinished works including a full but disjointed setting of Brother, for thee he died; three settings of the Gloria; two of the Kyrie Eleison; two of the Magnificat; two further settings of O Salutaris Hostia; incomplete settings of the Benedictus, the Credo, the Tantum Ergo, an Anthem in E flat minor/C minor and a setting of Psalm 83 for soprano solo and orchestra.

    together with:

    • A scholarly foreword recording the history of Elgar's composition of the works;
    • A comparative description of all known source material;
    • A comprehensive commentary detailing editorial decisions and amendments;
    • A range of facsimiles illustrating significant features of the works' development.

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