An Anthem is a religious choral composition with an English text. The anthem was first developed in the mid 16th century and played an important role in the Anglican and Protestant church. Early anthems mostly consisted of four-part pieces written for choir.
Toward the end of the century, the anthem was joined by vocal soloists with the accompaniment of other instruments, usually the organ; thus begins the age of the anthem.
About this time the English composers of the Chapel Royal, Tomkins, Gibbons, and William Byrd were hard at work composing some of greatest anthems of the period. John Blow and his prodigy Purcell continued the era by composing more traditional anthems. Soon after Geore Frideric Handel offered up more emotional compositions bringing the anthem into a new light of appreciation for it's audience.
Many anthems originated as hymns or marches. Other anthems such as patriotic songs, national anthems, and marches began to appear about the 18th century. Anthems are now universal, that is to say widespread and in common use for such musical intentions.
'La Marseillaise' (French National Anthem)
Composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle