The text of Byrd’s ‘Unto the hills mine eyes I lift’ is taken from Psalm 121 and was published in his ‘Songs of Sundrie Natures’ in 1598. It’s a surprisingly old-fashioned piece with echoes of the music of Robert Parsons – Byrd uses the Flemish style of imitation in the same way that Parsons did in his ‘Deliver me from mine enemies’. This makes me wonder if ‘Unto the hills mine eyes I lift’ was a musical homage to Parsons. For obvious reasons Byrd didn’t write much religious in English but what there is is exquisite. Enjoy :-).
Video Source: William Byrd (±1539-1623): Unto the hills mine eyes I lift – YouTube Published on 5 Jul 2013 by markfromireland
Text: Unto the hills mine eyes I lift
Unto the hills mine eyes I lift, my hope shall never fade,
But from the Lord I look for help, that Heaven and earth hath made.
Thy foot he will from slipping save, and he that doth thee keep,
With watchful eye will thee preserve, without slumber or sleep.
The Lord thy keeper and shade is, and stands at thy right arm,
The sun by day shall not thee burn, nor moon by night thee harm.
The Lord shall keep thee from all ill, thy soul he shall preserve,
And all thy ways both in and out, for ever shall conserve.