This piece ‘My heart is inditing’ was written for the coronation of James II in 1685 and was performed by an eight-part choir, strings and an organ.
It was created for the part of the ceremony that related to James’s queen, Mary of Modena and therefore the lines on these pages ‘at his right hand shall stand the Queen, all glorious within’ are particularly appropriate.
Henry Purcell (1659–1695) was the foremost English composer of his generation. He left a substantial and varied body of music which, like this manuscript, is written in his own hand.
He wrote in the baroque idiom of the time and was heavily influenced by French and Italian styles, however, he is particularly well regarded for his adventurous harmonies and innovative compositions. For example, in one of his quartets for strings, one of the instruments plays only one note throughout a whole movement, yet the harmony feels fluid and exciting.
At the time of James ll's coronation Purcell was the Keeper of the King's Instruments and Organist of the Chapel Royal. His connection with the Chapel Royal dating back to 1669 when, at the age of 10, he was admitted as a chorister. The Choir of the Chapel Royal took part in the coronation ceremonies and performed this grand anthem composed by Purcell.
A full copy of this manuscript is available on British Library Digitised Manuscripts.