The first modern edition, from John Pixell's A Collection of Songs, op. 1, 1759.
John Pixell was vicar of St. Bartholomew’s in Edgbaston, Birmingham (now commonly known as Edgbaston Old Church) from 1750 to 1784. He was by all accounts a competent violinist, harpsichordist and possessed a fine tenor voice. He published two collections of songs which were subscribed to by gentry, musicians and music societies in the Midlands and further afield. Unusually for collections of this time, Pixell’s two books (A Collection of Songs, with their Recitatives and Symphonies, op. 1, 1759, and Odes, Cantatas, Songs &c, divine, moral, entertaining, op. 2, 1775) contain a wide variety of vocal music both sacred and secular. He uses earlier English models of pastoral cantatas and arias, often scored for a variety of instruments such as flute, horns, bassoon as well as strings. Notable are his settings of devotional texts: sacred music designed for domestic use, a genre rarely seen since the works of Henry Purcell and his contemporaries.
The present hymn ‘Though in the Paths of Death I Tread’ is a setting of the third verse of Joseph Addison’s paraphrase of Psalm 23. This was first published in The Spectator, July 1713 and remained popular for the next one hundred years or so, being reprinted in anthologies throughout the eighteenth century. Pixell would go on to set the first three of Addison’s Psalm 23 in his op. 2 collection Odes, Cantatas, Songs &c. published in 1775 (this setting is published by Cat of the Keys Music as CK0038). The title of ‘Though in the Paths of Death I Tread’ as presented in the print – A Verse taken from Mr. Addison’s Pastoral Hymn – Inscrib’d to Char. Jennins Esq: – reveals a possible association Pixell had with Handel’s collaborator for Messiah, who family originated from Birmingham.
Though in the paths of death I tread,
With gloomy horrors overspread,
My steadfast heart shall fear no ill,
For thou, O Lord, art with me still;
Thy friendly crook shall give me aid,
And guide me thro' the dreadful Shade.
Pixell - 'Though in the Paths of Death I Tread'
Scoring: Soprano, 2 violins, continuo (cello, harpsichord)
Contents: Full Score - 10 pages, 4 parts - 6 pages.
- Violin 1, Violino 2
- Basso Continuo
- Basso Continuo realisation and Voice
Total pages: 16
File size: 5.2 MB
Work duration: 6'30''
Catalogue number: CK0041