Contents: v. 1. Messiah. Jephtha -- v. 2. Judas Maccabaeus. Samson -- v. 3. Acis & Galatea. Saul. Dettingen Te Deum. Utrecht Jubilate -- v. 4. Coronation and funeral anthems. L'allegro ed Il pensieroso -- v. 5. Solomon. Israel in Egypt -- v. 6. Esther. Theodora.
Engraved music for solo voices, chorus and piano or organ. Includes table of contents at end of each work. Without general index bound in at back of Vol. 6. Vols. 5-6 have imprint: London, Button, Whitaker & Beadnell.
RISM A: H 735, HH 583a ; HH 645a, H 838 ; HH 385a, HH 881, H 1197 ; H 1178, H 471, HH 1001a ; HH 925a, H569 ; H 539, HH 954a, HH 507a.
The original purpose and scope of the work was "To publish the most popular of this great author's oratorios, together with selections from his various anthems, are to form the subjects of the publication, the plan of which is usefully and judiciously arranged and will be best explained in the words of the respectable and scientific compiler. 'The vocal parts of the chorusses will be in full score; to which will be subjoined a separate part for the organ and or piano-forte, carefully compressed from the whole score, to which will be subjoined a separate part for the organ or piano-forte, carefully compressed from the whole score which will included the leading features of the instrumental accompaniment....and the whole will be so arranged as to enable four or five performers to produce the general effect both of the vocal and instrumental part'" (The Monthly magazine, Volume 27, Part 1, 1809, Sir Richard Phillips Sherwood, Gilbert and Piper, 1809).
When the project was ended in 1817 after the twenty-sixth number of the second series, or No. 78 being the concluding number of the Vocal Works of Handel the New Monthly magazine, and University Registers (Vol 7, 1817) noted that the entire Vocal Works series had cost Ł6000.
The editor John Clarke-Whitfield (1770-1836), organist and composer, son of John Clarke (d. 17 Sept 1802) of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, was born on 13 December 1770 at Gloucester, and adopted by letters patent in 1814 the family name of his mother, Amphillis (d. 10 Nov 1813), daughter of Henry Whitfeld of The Bury, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.
After a musical training at Oxford under Philip Hayes, in 1789 Clarke obtained the post of organist in the parish church of Ludlow, and the following year he married. In 1793 he took the BMus degree at Oxford, and in 1794 he succeeded Richard Langton as organist and master of the choristers at Armagh Cathedral for three years. In 1795 he was awarded the honorary degree of MusD at Dublin University, and in March 1798 he was appointed choirmaster of St Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church, Dublin. His earliest glees and sonatas were written and partly published in Ireland; but the unsettled condition of the country at length induced him to resign his posts, and after returning to England, he settled at Cambridge, where he became the organist and choirmaster of Trinity and St John's colleges from 1799 to 1820. He dedicated his three volumes of Services and Anthems (1800-05) to the masters and fellows of the two colleges.
In 1799 Clarke was granted the degree MusD Cambridge ad eundem from Dublin, and in 1810 he was incorporated DMus at Oxford. In 1821, on the death of Charles Hague, Clarke-Whitfeld, as he had become, was appointed professor of music at the University of Cambridge, a post which he held until his death. To allow more opportunity for composition he retired to the nearby village of Chesterton, where he set to music many of Sir Walter Scott's verses. He also worked equally industriously on the poems of Byron and Joanna Baillie, and set their words to music in some hundred songs and partsongs. About 1814 he published two volumes of Twelve Vocal Pieces, for which original material was contributed by these and other poets.
From 1820 to 1832 Clarke-Whitfeld was organist and choirmaster of Hereford Cathedral, and in this capacity he was frequently asked to conduct or to play the piano at the Three Choirs festivals. At the Hereford festival of 1822 he produced his oratorio The Crucifixion, and at that of 1825 its continuation, The Resurrection (published in 1835). He resigned in 1832 after an attack of paralysis and died at Holmer, near Hereford, on 22 February 1836. A mural tablet recorded his burial in the bishop's cloisters, Hereford Cathedral. He was survived by his wife, Susannah, who died on 18 April 1845, aged seventy-two.
Clarke-Whitfeld's work was well adapted to his times and was popular. He did valuable pioneering work in editing the scores of Purcell, Arne, and Handel, and his collections of Favourite Anthems (1805) and Single and Double Chants (1810) were compiled with good judgement.
Ref: L. M. Middleton, rev. Nilanjana Banerji (biographical in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, on-line version). (Inventory #: 917)