The Anthem is as English as fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. It was a child of the Reformation in Great Britain when, at Henry VIII’s command, Bishop Crammer wrote the first Book of Common Prayer (1549), thus providing new liturgies in the vernacular to replace the Roman Catholic Breviary and Missal.
In their sung versions, the newly created Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer (often referred to as Matins and Evensong), as well as Holy Communion, provided an opportunity for the singing of anthems, usually during the collection of alms, “In quires and places where they sing, here may be sung an anthem."
Of singular importance was the introduction, through the anthem, of non-scriptural as well as scriptural texts, thus providing a unique opportunity for the introduction of “parabiblical” thought and expression for poets, composers, and performers. Within such a framework, a church musician becomes a theologian and inherits the liabilities therewith, both positive and negative.
As a composer of anthems for more than 40 years, I hope these works will find a place within the continuum of the Anglican tradition that inspired them.