See, now I am absolutely cheating by looking up lists of Advent music and seeing what I like. But it’s not really cheating in this case, because while I haven’t actually sung this particular verse anthem before, I was looking for a different Michael Wise anthem for Advent quite recently (this was the path that led me into the pit of smutty Elizabethan Madrigals a couple of Sundays ago). So when I saw that he had written another Advent anthem, I braved YouTube again, to see if I could avoid the smut, and found this.
Isn’t it gorgeous? I especially love that bass solo on “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made LOW”. Very low, for he is a BASS. I do like a good bass voice… And then there’s that lovely part where the two sopranos are trading solos on “And the voice said ‘Cry’ / What shall I cry?”. And “Behold thy God” is just stunning. Also, I think we have half the lyrics of The Messiah condensed into one verse anthem here.
Drat, I really want to sing this one now…
I’m afraid I don’t have anything else to add to this – I’m a big fan of verse anthems, and the different textures you get from having soloists and combinations of soloists alternating with choir, but I’m mostly just sitting here going, wow, this is gorgeous, and not getting any further. Does anything more really need to be said?