William Croft

Burial Service & Anthems

The Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Directed by David Skinner

William Croft (1678-1727) was the finest English composer of his age, having followed in the footsteps of Henry Purcell and John Blow at Westminster Abbey.

This recording highlights his full anthems and Burial Service published in his ambitious and successful Musica Sacra of 1724. Croft was deeply inspired by Tallis and, at the hight of his career, flourished in the shadow of Handel.


Track listing

1. Sing praises to the Lord
2. Voluntary No. 8 in C major
3. Hear my prayer, O Lord
4. O Lord God of my salvation
5. Voluntary No. 1 in D minor
6. I am the resurrection
7. Man that is born of a woman
8. Thou knowest, Lord (Henry Purcell)
9. I heard a voice from heaven
10. Voluntary No. 5 in C major
11. God is gone up with a merry noise
12. O Lord, rebuke me not
13. Voluntary No. 4 in G minor
14. O Lord, grant the King a long life

From the booklet notes

“In 1776 the music historian, John Hawkins described William Croft as a ‘grave and decent man’, and, if such a thing is possible, this seems to be reflected in his music. Many of the anthems in his Musica Sacra are charmingly honest, quite simple and extremely effective. The six represented on this recording offer a wide spectrum of his writing ability, which shows him to be an even, consistent composer who heralded an original voice in his works. Typical in all is the marked contrast between full choir and solo verse sections from anywhere between three and six or more voices. There are hints of Handelian influences, such as in the spritely God is gone up and Sing praises to the Lord, but he appears particularly to have excelled in more sombre settings where he, like others before him from Tallis to Purcell, drew on traditional polyphonic methods.

Hear my prayer and O Lord God of my salvation are typical examples of his ability slowly to build tension to great effect. But his masterpiece in this genre must be O Lord, rebuke me not which displays particular sombre expressiveness from it initial petitions, which become more troubled throughout, to one of his finest settings of the ‘Amen’. O Lord, grant the King a long life with its chromatic quirkiness is in a class of its own and displays his harmonic inventiveness.”

(c) David Skinner

In the press

"Their success depends very much on the quality of the singing, and here the Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, under the excellent direction of David Skinner, are outstanding. In spite of this being an English church choir there's nothing wishy-washy, namby-pamby or hoity-toity for Inspector Grim to rant about here; instead, these excellent voices bring us spirited, stylish and well-paced interpretations, as is immediately evident in the fine opening piece 'Sing praises to the Lord'.”
- 5* review by Stephen Midgley