Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Blessed are those that be undefiled

This is an English setting of verses 1 – 6 of Psalm 119 (Vulgate 118). The translation is Myles Coverdale’s translation of 1535 and is headed  ‘Beati immaculati’ (Blessed are those that be undefiled) in the Ludlow Parish Church  manuscript partbook. Between that, the fact that it’s scored for TrSATB, and the way in Tallis has divided the longer notes into shorter repeated ones I think it’s pretty certain that this is a contrafactum1 of a Latin setting of the Psalm by Tallis that has not survived the ravages of time. Enjoy :-).


Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Blessed are those that be undefiled

Blessed are those that be undefiled in the way: and walk in the law of the Lord.
Blessed are they that keep his testimonies: and seek him with their whole heart.
For they who do no wickedness: walk in his ways.
Thou hast charged us, O Lord: that we shall diligently keep thy commandments.
O that our ways were made so direct: that we might keep thy statutes.
So shall we not be confounded: while we have respect unto thy commandments.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Psalm 119 – Coverdale translation of 1535

Performers: Chapelle du Roi conducted by Alistair Dixon.

  1. Contrafactum

    (from medieval Lat. contrafacere: ‘to imitate’, ‘counterfeit’, ‘forge’). In vocal music, the substitution of one text for another without substantial change to the music.
    Plural: contrafacta.

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