The text of this communion motet comes from Luke 7: 6-7, which relates the how Christ healed the Centurion’s servant in Capernaum. It’s a text that’s used in the Mass to prepare the communicant(s) to receive the Host ‘Domine non sum dignus’ (Lord I am not worthy). Byrd’s setting is precise, polished, and very very madrigalian. Listen to how he uses imitation at ‘sed tantum dic verbum’ (but only say the word) followed by his musical depiction of healing to hear what I mean. Every time I hear it I find myself imagining what it would sound like to a secular text. Enjoy :-)
William Byrd (±1539-1623): Domine non sum dignus
Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum:
Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof:
sed tantum dic verbum, et sanabitur puer meus.
but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.
Performers: The Cardinall’s Musick conducted by Andrew Carwood