William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

I’ve written about Byrd’s six-part setting of a text from Psalm 107 before that posting featured a performance by The Cardinall’s Musick under Andrew Carwood, it’s a fine performance as is this somewhat different perfomance by I Fagiolini under Robert Hollingworth which is well worth hearing not only in its own right but also by way of contrast. Enjoy :-)


This six-part (SAATTB) motet with divided tenors and baritones was published in Canciones Sacræ (1575). Its text is taken from Psalm 107 and is a plea to God for respite and aid in times of tribulation. It’s quite similar in style to Domine secundum actum meum they’re both Aeolian, there’s the same voices, and those voices are in the same clefs, both make very sophisticated use of double imitation, and they conclude in similar ways. Both motets were clearly written as an exercise in achieving an ideal form and given the similarities between Byrd’s motets and Ferrabosco’s I think it’s fairly clear that the exemplar for this ideal form was Ferrabosco’s Domine non secundum peccata nostra.

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

Da mihi auxilium de tribulatione,
quia vana salus hominis:
aut aliquid saltem respirandi tempus,

Psalm 107 v.12

Give me help in trouble,
for vain is the salvation of man:
or at least some respite to breathe,
that I may lament my youth.

I Fagiolini directed by Robert Hollingsworth

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