Georg Friedrich Händel: Ode for St. Cecilias Day

Georg Friedrich Händel

Ode for St. Cecilias Day

HWV 76, 1739


During the late 17th century English musicians celebrated each year on 22 November the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, with special concerts and church services. With his Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day Handel rejuvenated the tradition of this festival on St. Cecilia’s Day in 1732. This so-called “little” St. Cecilia Ode is a musically joyful glorification of the power of music: two festive choruses frame five charming arias in each of which a solo instrument is used for contrasting effect in the baroque manner. Handel allows the soloists a wealth of freedom to improvise and to display their skills. This is especially the case for the organ, which was his favorite instrument.


full score

96 pages, DIN A4, paperback
EUR42,00 / copies

vocal score

60 pages, 19 x 27 cm, paperback
EUR16,95 / copies

choral score

16 pages, DIN A4, without cover
EUR4,95 / copies
Available from 20 copies
from 20 copies 4,95 EUR
from 40 copies 4,46 EUR
from 60 copies 3,96 EUR

study score

96 pages, DIN A4, paperback
EUR19,80 / copies

set of parts, complete orchestral parts

23 x 32 cm, without cover
EUR163,00 / copies
  • consisting of
    1 x set of parts, harmony parts, 1 x bassoon, 1 x flute, 1 x oboe 1, 1 x oboe 2, 3 x trumpet (10.372/09)
    each: 31,50 €
    5 x individual part, violin 1 (10.372/11)
    each: 7,80 €
    5 x individual part, violin 2 (10.372/12)
    each: 7,80 €
    4 x individual part, viola (10.372/13)
    each: 7,80 €
    4 x individual part, violoncello/double bass and lute (10.372/14)
    each: 7,80 €
    1 x individual part, organ (10.372/49)
    each: 19,90 €

individual part, organ

28 pages, DIN A4, paperback
EUR19,90 / copies

Product information


Christine Martin Personal details

Piano reduction by

Paul Horn Personal details

Songwriter / Librettist

John Dryden Personal details


Georg Friedrich Händel Personal details


Georg Friedrich Händel: Ode for St. Cecilia's Day (HWV 76)

Im Rahmen seiner Stuttgarter Händel-Ausgaben legt der Carus‑Verlag nun die Cäcilienode des Jahres 1739 auf einen Text von John Dryden (engl.) vor. Neben den für Händel bezeichnenden festlichen Chören besticht das dreizehnteilige Werk durch ungewöhnlich phantasievolle Instrumentierung der Soloarien. Das Werk ist sicherlich einmal eine Alternative zum ewigen Dauerbrenner Messias, nur leider wohl nicht abendfüllend.

Wilfried Rombach
Quelle: Kirchenmusikalische Mitteilungen  10/2004

I can still remember the impression made on me when, I suppose about 45 years ago, I bought a World Record Club disc of this and was bowled over by the alternating soprano solo and choral chorale that begins the final chorus — luckily I don‘t still have the disc, since I suspect that I‘d now find that Teresa Stich-Randall‘s voice lacked the precision of the trumpet fanfare that arose under her final top A. I don‘t remember ever hearing a live performance, their rarity perhaps being because of the lack of decent orchestral material (though the Kalmus set isn‘t as bad as usual). We were thinking of doing a set ourselves during the next few months, but that has been made unnecessary by this fine new edition from Carus. As well as the full score, the vocal score is already available (10.372/03; €14.00, about £9.5o) and parts are promised in a couple of months. There are two obvious editorial decisions to be made. One is the title. As with Purcell‘s Hail, bright Cecilia, the term Ode refers to the form of the poem, while the musical term is Song. Handel‘s autograph is headed Ouverture to the Song for St Cecilia‘s Day by Mr Dryden 1687, and the first two editions of the work have the usual title for selected solos, Songs from/in continued with the word Ode referring to the poem: in the Ode wrote by Mr Dryden for St. Cecilia‘s Day Set by Mr Handel. In the first full score (1771) the title is more ambiguous: The Complete Score of the Ode... Set to Music by Mr Handel. HWV uses the opening line ‘From Harmony, from heav‘nly Harmony‘ as the main title, but undermines it by having Ode for St. Cecilia‘s Day as the running heading for the relevant pages. Modern usage should probably be either the first line or Dryden‘s Ode...
The other problem is what to do with the minuets that end the Ouverture. The autograph has one in D minor followed by another in D major, with the D-minor one crossed out. The Ouverture is missing from the conducting score. I haven‘t had a chance to check the early sources, but it is curious that the three pre-Chrysander editions I have (Arnold c.1792, The Handel Society, 1844-5, and Vincent Novello‘s vocal score from the 1850s) all have the related Minuet in D major that Handel used to end op. 6/5 (whose first two movements are taken from the Overture to the St Cecilia‘s Day Song). I would guess this to have been normal 18th-century manner of performance. The Carus edition ignores Handel‘s deletion, reverses the MS order, and prints them as Minuet and Trio, not Handel‘s normal treatment when minuets end overtures. I‘d be happier if the suggestion were footnoted, not buried in the commentary. The editor misses that in the D major Minuet, the middle line is allocated to violin 3 as well as viola: at least, that‘s how it reads to me, both on the facsimile in the edition and on my microfilm.
Were this a thorough critical edition, I would expect a slightly more precise commentary. I can‘t see on my film, for instance, the words Liuto and Org. at bar 39 of No. 7, although as suggestions they are sensible enough. But I have no hesitation in recommending this to customers. It is good value (about £22), clearly readable, with no cluttering German translation underlaid; instead, the poem is printed the introduction with a German version alongside.

Quelle: Early Music Review, 4/04, S.3