It was largely through the efforts of ‘Captain’ Henry Cooke (c.1615-1672) that the choir of the Chapel Royal was successfully restored at the Restoration in 1660. He invoked ancient press-gang legislation to purloin promising choirboys from cathedrals across the country. Two of them, Pelham Humfrey and John Blow, went on to write ground-breaking music.
Cooke’s most important service to English church music was to put into practice Charles II’s explicit desire to have his royal anthems decked out with instrumental ‘symphonies’ and interludes. The diarist Samuel Pepys regularly recorded the performances of Cooke’s novel new anthems by the Chapel Royal choir. On September 14, 1662 he wrote:
Thence to Whitehall Chapel, where .. I heard Captain Cooke’s new musique. This the first day of having [violins] and other instruments to play a symphony between each verse of the anthem … the music was more full than it was last Sunday and very fine it is.