I found this "Daily Telegraph" article on Byrd while googling for a posting I’m researching, if you like Byrd, or The Cardinall’s Musick you’ll find it worth your while to click through. – mfi.
“Byrd was up there among the greats. In fact, I would stick my neck out and say he was the greatest composer of the second half of the 16th century, in any country. To begin with there’s the huge scope of his music, which none of his great contemporaries can rival. He wrote sacred music in many different forms, he wrote wonderful secular songs, there are dances for ‘consorts’, which means basically groups of viols [the predecessor of modern stringed instruments]. And there’s masses of wonderful keyboard music.
“Another great thing about Byrd is that once he’s past his apprentice period the quality is amazingly consistent.”
But are there qualities in the music that set Byrd apart?
“Yes, absolutely. One is his sensitivity to words. Sometimes this comes out as a wit. For example, one of his motets has a text that refers to a pen scurrying over the paper, and just for a bar Byrd makes his voices mimic the movement. More often it’s about finding the right overall emotional tone for a piece, rather than being overtly pictorial.
“The other thing I love about Byrd is that he thinks on such an ambitious scale. Some of his motets, like Infelix Ego, have the weight and drama of a symphonic movement.”