O How Amiable, Psalm LXXXIV, 1862, William James Linton, wood engraver, 1812-1898, after drawings by John Franklin, history painter, born ca. 1800. Pages From The Psalms of David, with illustrations by John Franklin, engraved by W. J. Linton. London: Sampson Low, Son, and Co., 1862, 133-34. Courtesy of Jan Lancaster, Washington, D.C.
O How Amiable sets the verses of Psalm 84 that Johannes Brahms had used in the fourth movement of his Ein deutsches Requiem, "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen." The first two verses use full chorus, while the beginning of verse three is set for SATB [soprano, alto, tenor, bass] solo quartet, a favorite device of Buck and other Victorian-period composers. The full chorus returns and the work concludes with a recapitulation of the opening. Buck, a well-trained organist, indicates his preferences for organ registration at various points in this anthem.
Buck's sacred compositions include large-scale works, four cantatas, 55 anthems and 20 sacred songs. He played a central role in the development of organ and choral music in the United States.