George Jeffreys (c1610-1685)

Little is known of George Jeffreys’ early life, but he is said by Anthony Wood, a contemporary historian, to have been descended from Matthew Jeffries, a vicar-choral at Wells, and to have been appointed joint organist with John Wilson at the court of Charles I at Oxford in 1643. Before this however, he had written songs for a musical entertainment which was played before the King at Cambridge in 1631, and set some verses by Sir Richard Hatton. At some time after the siege of Oxford in 1646, he became steward to the Hatton family, where he remained until his death in 1685. He held no other official post as a musician.
At one time it was thought that most of Jeffreys’ music was produced after his retirement from court, but following a detailed study of the structure and watermarks in the principal autograph manuscript source, BM Add. MS 10338, it is now thought that the manuscript is mostly of earlier date, so that it was for the court that Jeffreys wrote most of his mature music. This new view of Jeffreys’ professionalism accords with some of the sacred music especially well: the abundant Latin settings, and the fact that some of the music was obviously written for professional singers of considerable ability.


Jef 3

Three Motets

for alto/high tenor (g-b'flat), bass (D-d'), and continuo

Price: £ 6.90

O Nomen Jesu
O Pretiosum
Jesu, Rex admirabilis

The three pieces in this edition are taken from a series of pieces headed ‘Mottects’. They could well have served as anthems in an act of public worship, or as a contribution to private devotions in a formal setting such as that of the royal court, or an aristocratic house. All show the influence of the new Italian style which Jeffreys admired - he made manuscript copies of over one hundred sacred works by Carissimi, Grandi, Reggio and others, contained in BM Add MS 31479, as well as of a quantity of secular Italian music, to be found in Christ Church Oxford, MS 787-80.

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Jef 4

Six Short Motets

Edited by Derek Harrison

for two tenors (d-g') and continuo

Price: £ 7.90

Timor et tremor
Audivi vocem
Si diligitis me
Sive vigilem
Erit Gloria Domini
Domine Deus

The Six Short Motets in this edition are taken from a series of pieces headed ‘Mottects’. They could well have served as anthems in an act of public worship, or as a contribution to private devotions in a normal setting such as that of the royal court, or an aristocratic house. All show the influence of the new Italian style which Jeffreys admired - he made manuscript copies of over one hundred sacred works by Carissimi, Grandi, Reggio and others, contained in BM Add MS 31479, as well as of a quantity of secular Italian music, to be found in Christ Church Oxford, MS 787-80.

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Jef 6

Three devotional Songs

for solo bass (D-d') and bc

Price: £ 5.90

Praise the Lord, O my Soule
O Quam Suave
Spetiosus Forma

Praise the Lord O my Soule is an anthem based on Psalm 104: O Quam suave is a sparkling solo with excitring embellishments and word-painting: Spetiosus forma is a setting of Psalm 45, and contains some remarkable athletic leaps. All three pieces come from the autograph score book in the British Library, which contains most of Jeffreys' surviving works. They show Jeffreys' familiarity with the Italian stile nuovo, and display the adventurousness of his writing compared to many of his contemporaries.

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Jef 7

Duets for basses by George Jeffreys and Henry Purcell

for two basses (E-d');(G-e') and continuo

Price: £ 7.50

Jeffreys: With notes that are both loud and sweet
For the Ascension of our Bld. Saviour

Purcell: Awake ye dead:
An Hymn upon the Last Day

The text of With notes that are both loud and sweet may be by Jeffreys himself, and is full of vivid imagery. The style is of the piece is declamatory, but has many passages of effective word setting. Both voices suggest the angels descending by swooping down to bottom E, and there is a telling chromatic phrase on the word “Cry”. The piece displays Jeffreys’ interest in the Italian style, and is characterised by the irregular phrase lengths that are typical of him. It is clearly not intended for church use, and was probably “for private chapels or other private meetings” as were Child’s 1639 Italianate psalm settings.

Purcell’s anthem Awake ye Dead was published by Henry Playford in the second volume of Harmonia Sacra, 1693. This was to be a collection of ‘DIVINE HYMNS/AND/ DIALOGUES:/ WITH/A THOROW-BASS for the Theorbo-Lute,/ Bass-Viol, Harpsichord, or Organ./ Composed by the Best MASTERS of the Last and Present Age.’ His second edition of 1703 claimed “four Excellent Anthems of the late Mr H. Purcell’s never before Printed”. The virtuosic nature of this piece is a reminder that some notable bass voices were available to Purcell – possibly John Gostling and John Bowman, who both served in the king’s Private Music . This piece contains much conspicuous word painting, as for example the florid descending passages for “the clatt’ring Orbs come down”. The words are by Nahum Tate, who was poet laureate from 1692, and who provided the libretto for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

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Jef 8

Three Dialogues

for soprano (d'-g''), bass (D-d') and bc

Price: £ 7.50

Lovely Sheaphard ope thine Eye
Why sigh you swayne?
Heu me miseram (Maria et Angelis)

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