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1659 (?) - 1695)

'Bell' Symphony

arranged by Mark Starr for baroque or chamber orchestra
from Purcell's Anthem for organ 'Rejoice in the Lord'

link to biography of Purcell

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  If you do not wish listen to it, please click on the STOP button (or the PAUSE button) on the media player, below. You may wish to adjust the volume on your computer to a more comfortable level.


When Henry Purcell was Master of Choristers at Westminster Abbey, he composed an anthem for organ entitled "Rejoice in the Lord."

Westminster Abbey


According to British Purcell scholar and organist Dr. William C. Carl, the descending diatonic C-Major scale that repeats in the bass line (and eventually makes its way to the melody) was Purcell's attempt to imitate Westminster Abbey's chimes. Since many 20th Century church organs incorporate a set of chimes, Dr. Carl suggested that modern-day organists should link these chimes to the pedals "to enhance the effect."



 The Bells of Westminister (cast in Whitechapel)

In his orchestration of this piece, Mark Starr has taken up Dr. Carl's suggestion by adding a set of tubular bells to the orchestra -- which is composed of strings, solo trumpet and harpsichord continuo.

In Dr. Carl's published edition of 1917 for organ, he gave this anthem the nickname 'The Bell Symphony.'  Under this moniker, the work first became popular -- and it is still in use today.



solo trumpet in C


harpsichord continuo

orchestral (tubular) bells


duration: 3 minutes


This orchestration is suitable for both period instrumental ensembles and modern chamber orchestras.

The full score of Mark Starr's orchestration is available for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing on www.sibeliusmusic.com . Here is the link to this score:



Orchestral parts for public performance and/or recordings are available on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions.  This arrangement is copyright and registered with ASCAP.