Christopher Gibbons (1615 – 1676): O Bone Jesu

A Latin-texted motet is, as you might expect, quite unusual amongst Gibbons’ compositions1. It’s very beautifully and expressively written and with an very special sound-world. The soprano hovers more than an octave over the three lower voices the effect of which is heightened by sharpened interjections. I found it a very striking piece of music…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Te Deum

The Te Deum is a very ancient hymn that was sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and major feasts, it was also sung on special occasions of rejoicing or thanksgiving. Because of its length composers in Taverner’s time generally treated it the same way they would treat a psalm as an alternatim setting…

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623): Rejoice in the Lord

The first time I heard Weelkes’ setting of verses 1, 2 and 4 of Psalm 33 (the text of verse 2 is slightly adapted) I was surprised at how severely plain and unadorned it was –  not in Weelkes’ normal style at all. It’s a Full anthem for four voices (SATB) and organ with some…

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956): Clear And Gentle Stream!

The fourth in Finzi’s series of seven part-songs setting poems by Robert Bridges Clear And Gentle Stream! reflects  Finzi’s intense love  for  the  English countryside and his acceptance – which he shares with Bridges of  of life’s impermanence. I love this song, its almost madrigalian nature, and the way in which Finzi treats the text…

Adrian Willaert (±1490-1562): Mittit ad virginem

Willært’s setting of  this sequence hymn for The Annunciation, the text of which is by Abelard was published in Venice in 1559 as part of his "Musica Nova" – the newness in this case refers to the fact that these motets had never been published before. It’s a calm and beautifully harmonised setting whose restrained…