William, the youngest of three sons of Charles Knyvett, was described as an eminent counter-tenor singer equally admired for the sweetness of his voice and the high finish and delicacy of his style in part-singing. Both William and his brother Charles were considered to be among the very few English singers remarkable for correctness in the musical enunciations of the words of our language. William first commenced orchestral singing at the Concert of Ancient Music about 1795, after which he assisted in all the most important concerts and music meetings in London and the provincial towns. His glees were described as "airy and elegant". He was a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1797, Lay Vicar of Westminster Abbey, and succeeded Arnold as composer to the Chapel Royal in 1802. He conducted the concerts of Ancient Music 1832-40, the Birmingham Festivals 1834-43, and the York Festival in 1835. He composed the famous song The Bells of St. Michael's Tower and also the anthems for the coronations of George IV and Queen Victoria.
This chant is said to be adapted from the final duet of Handel's oratorio Athelia, a gentle song in which Josabeth and her husband Jehoida the priest (Joad) congratulate one another on the succesful outcome of their scheme. Athaliah is quietly forgotten in the general rejoicing, her gruesome execution recorded in 2 Kings 11:15-16 being tactfully omitted from the oratorio, which simply ends with an anthem of praise to God.
The following links let you hear the Knyvett chant, played by the computer on a synthesised organ.
It will play twice, and clicking on the link again will cause it to repeat.
You might need to click Refresh on your browser, or press F5 before playing, as the chant files change regularly.
Full four-part chant
|Hear the part||Soprano only||Alto only||Tenor only||Bass only|
|Karaoke||No Soprano||No Alto||No Tenor||No Bass|
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