Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne - George F Handel (1685 - 1759)


1.   Eternal source of light divine (Alto)

2.  The day that gave great Anna birth (Alto and chorus)

3.   Let the winged race with joy (Soprano and chorus)

4.   Let flocks and herds their fear forget (Alto and chorus)

5.   Let rolling streams their gladness show (Alto, Bass and chorus)

6.   Kind health descends (Soprano and Alto)

7.  The day that gave great Anna birth (Soprano, Alto and Chorus)

8.   Let envy then conceal her head (Bass and Chorus)

9.   United nations shall combine (Alto and chorus)


Georg Frederic Handel had travelled extensively in his search to establish himself as a composer, and first arrived in London in 1710, where he had immediate success as an opera composer. Unlike Purcell, who had grown up within the English musical establishment, Handel was at this stage an outsider, without any royal appointment. Somehow he obtained a commission to compose a Te Deum to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht in 1712. He followed this with his ode for the Queen's birthday on 6th February 1713. Unfortunately for Handel, it was not performed, probably due to the Queen's illness. Somehow Handel did succeed in impressing the Queen, however, because she granted him an annual pension of 200 later the same year. The ode features a level of virtuosity, both for the soloists and the instrumentalists, and a level of complexity in the choral writing, that surpasses most other works in this genre, and anticipates some of the music Handel was subsequently to write for coronations and other royal events.


Peter Foster