Blest Pair of Sirens

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Blest Pair of Sirens is a short work for choir and orchestra by Hubert Parry. It was composed in 1887. It is a setting of an ode called At a solemn Musick by John Milton.

Blest Pair of Sirens was first performed by the Bach Choir conducted by Charles Villiers Stanford. At first Stanford wanted to perform another work by Parry: The Glories of Our Blood and State. However, the performance was going to be part of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The words of The Glories of Our Blood and State were about Death coming to kings and queens, so it was not thought to be appropriate, and so Stanford asked Parry to write a new work for the occasion. George Grove suggested Milton’s Ode at a Solemn Music would be a good poem for Parry to set.

The first performance of Blest Pair of Sirens at St James’s Hall took place on 17 May 1887. It is very well written for choir with music that excellently fits Milton’s powerful words. The choir divides into eight parts. The words are about man’s desire to join the heavenly music of the spheres[1].

"Blest Pair of Sirens" was sung by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal at the Royal Wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Kate Middleton on 29 April 2011. It was performed during the signing of the register[2].

References[change | change source]

  1. Andrew Huth’s programme note, Last Night of the Proms, 11 September 2010, BBC
  2. http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/blog/2011/April/28/Music-for-the-Wedding-Service