Saturday Chorale: Thomas Tallis “If Ye Love Me”

For this week’s posting I’ve linked to two videos with different interpretations of Tallis’ (born 1505 died 1585) "If you love me" the first by the Cambridge Singers the second by the Danish choir, The Århus Baroque Choir. I promise you it’s well worth your while listening to both. The lyrics are Tallis’ setting of words from John 14.

If ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may bide with you for ever, ev’n the spirit of truth.

Incidentally Muslims say that this is one of the instances of the Bible prophesying the arrival of Prophet Mohammed and Islam. (The keyword is "paraclete" which is translated as "comforter" in Tallis’ setting) :

15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever:

15 Si diligitis me, mandata mea servate: 16 et ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis, ut maneat vobiscum in æternum,

Source: Catholic Encylopedia | Bible | John 14

I’ve picked these recordings because the Cambridge Singers’ interpretation is a very typically "English interpretation" of the piece, and the second because not only is it beautiful in and of itself but because like the Cambridge Singers’ performance it refutes those who say that women cannot (or should not) sing music intended for the male voice. Both choirs are mixed and both give a performance that is masterly, warm, comforting, has beautiful diction, and is oh so very beautiful.



4 thoughts on “Saturday Chorale: Thomas Tallis “If Ye Love Me”

    • It was first published in 1560 in ‘Day’s Certaine notes set forthe in foure and three partes‘commonly called ‘Day’s service book’. (Lengthy article about it in British Library here:

      The fact that it was published in Day’s service book (two years into Elizabeth I’s reign) would imply to me that it was already a reasonably well-known and well-like piece among reformist clergy. So it must have been composed sometime during the reign of Edward VI (1547 – 1553) we can narrow it down further because the first Book of Common Prayer was published in 1549 and the revised (and far more protestant) version in 1552. So it was composed between 1549 and 1553 and most likely between 1552 and 1553.

      Hope this helps


  1. Hi Mark! IF ye love me is one of my favourite pieces. When I first started singing and listening to choral music, I came across many recordings by the Cambridge Singers and was instantly taken by their sound. I also adore the Ave Maria by Robert Parsons!
    The second version is good, I feel it is a bit rushed towards the end, and I like that they end it in a fifth :D

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