Great God and just, Z 186 (Henry Purcell)

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  • (Posted 2019-10-04)  CPDL #55514:         
Editor: Raymond Nagem (submitted 2019-10-04).   Score information: Letter, 4 pages, 97 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Original key, with original basso continuo part only (no editorial realization). Updated 2020-02-04.
  • (Posted 2019-10-04)  CPDL #55513:         
Editor: Raymond Nagem (submitted 2019-10-04).   Score information: Letter, 5 pages, 115 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Original key. Contains an editorial realization of the continuo part. Updated 2020-02-04.

General Information

Title: Great God and just, Z 186
Composer: Henry Purcell
Lyricist: Jeremy Taylorcreate page

Number of voices: 1v   Voicing: Solo high, with chorus (ad lib.) SSB or TTB
Genre: SacredSacred song

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1688
Description: Titled "A Penitential Hymn." Although Purcell adds a second soprano and a bass voice in the chorus, this song can also be performed with solo voice and continuo only, with minor alterations in mm. 48-51.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

Great God, and Just! How can'st thou see,
Dear God, our Misery,
And not in Mercy set us free?
Poor, miserable Man! How wert thou born?
Weak as the dewy Jewels of the Morn!
Wrapt up in tender Dust,
Guarded with Sins and Lust;
Who, like Court-Flatterers, wait,
To serve themselves in thy unhappy Fate:
Wealth is a Snare, and Poverty brings in
Inlets for Theft, paving the way for Sin;
Each perfum'd Vanity doth gently breathe
Sin in thy Soul, and whispers it to death:
Our Faults, like ulcerated Sores, do go
O'er the sound Flesh, and do corrupt that too.
Lord! we are sick, spotted with sin,
Thick as a crusty Leper's Skin;
Like Naaman, bid us wash, yet let it be
In streams of Blood, that flow from thee.
Then will we sing,
Touch'd by the heav'nly Dove's bright Wing,
Hallelujahs, Psalms, and Praise,
To God, the Lord of Night and Days,
Ever good, and ever just,
Who ever must
Thus be sung, is still the same,
Eternal Praises crown his name.