Jubilate Deo (Britten)

Benjamin Britten's Jubilate Deo is a sacred choral setting of Psalm 100 in the English version from the Book of Common Prayer. Britten wrote it in 1961 for St George's Chapel, Windsor, "at the request of H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh".[1] Britten scored the joyful music in C major for four-part choir and organ. A late companion piece to his 1934 Te Deum in C, it is also known as his Jubilate in C. It has been performed and recorded often, including on the Duke's 80th and 90th birthdays, and for his funeral service on 17 April 2021.

Jubilate Deo
Choral music by Benjamin Britten
98 of 'The Thames Illustrated. A picturesque journeying from Richmond to Oxford' (11239831776).jpg
Interior of St George's Chapel, Windsor
Other nameJubilate in C
KeyC major
TextPsalm 100
Composed1961 (1961)
DedicationSt George's Chapel, Windsor, at the request of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Performed1961 (1961): St George's Chapel


In 1953, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, attended the premiere of Britten's Gloriana, an opera about the reign of Elizabeth I, composed for the festivities of the coronation of Elizabeth II that year. The royal couple dined with the composer after the performance.[2] Later, perhaps in 1958, the Duke requested that Britten compose a setting of Psalm 100 (Jubilate Deo) for St George's Chapel, Windsor.[1][2] The psalm is a regular part of Anglican morning prayer.[3]

Britten composed the music in 1961, using the version of Psalm 100 found in the Book of Common Prayer. He set it in C major for four-part choir (SATB) and organ.[3] It was written as a companion piece to his earlier 1934 Te Deum in C,[4] and was published in 1961 by Chester Music.[1]

The Jubilate was first performed in St George's Chapel. It has since been performed and recorded often,[4] and was performed for the Duke of Edinburgh's 80th and 90th birthdays.[2] By his prior request, the piece was included in the Duke's funeral service at the chapel on 17 April 2021,[5] where it was performed by a small choir of four singers, with Luke Bond as the organist.[6]


The music is in one movement, which takes about three minutes to perform.[3] It is in C major, in 2/4 time, and marked "Lively".[1] All voices, bass to soprano, sing the first line "O be joyful in the Lord all ye lands" in unison.[1] Jeremy Grimshaw describes that "the work features a distinctively intuitive harmonic language that nonetheless serves to illuminate rather than overshadow." He notes Britten's sensibility for clear expression of the text, sometimes by accentuating words, sometimes by emphasis by a melisma. He summarises the work's "ardent energy, deploying the words in long unbroken melodies",[4] but sometimes pausing for reflection, and composing words "everlasting" with "rich, resonant harmonies".[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jubilate Deo (PDF). mcchorus.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Timoney, Camilla (17 April 2021). "Prince Philip's funeral music includes two pieces written at his request / The Jubilate, by Benjamin Britten, and a setting of Psalm 104 by guitarist and composer William Lovelady to feature at Windsor". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Spicer, Paul. "Jubilate Deo" (PDF). Britten Choral Guide with Repertoire Notes by Paul Spicer. Boosey & Hawkes. p. 9. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Grimshaw, Jeremy. "Benjamin Britten / Jubilate Deo, for chorus & organ in C major". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  5. ^ Roberts, Lizzie (18 April 2021). "All the music from Prince Philip's funeral, including two pieces written at his request / Many of the hymns and songs played during the procession and service were chosen by Prince Philip himself". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 18 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Prince Philip's funeral music: Full list of songs and hymns being sung by choir at St George's Chapel today". Associated Newspapers. 17 April 2021. Archived from the original on 17 April 2021. Retrieved 17 April 2021.