Robert White (±1538-1574): Magnificat

When Morley, was writing his A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) he listed White as one of the greatest English composers saying that he was equal to de Lassus and included him in a list of seven eminent Tudor composers that included "Fayrfax, Taverner, Sheppard, Whyte, Parsons and Mr Byrd." Whenever I…

Nicolaus Craen (±1440-1507): Tota pulchra es

Although much of his life and music are now sunk in obscurity his contemporaries greatly admired this Southern Netherlands composer. He spent the last six years of his life as the sangmeester of the Confraternity of Our Lady in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and it’s known that the chapter of St Donatian, Bruges made at least one attempt…

Giaches de Wert (1535-96): O sacrum convivium

De Wert’s setting of the Antiphon for Second Vespers at Corpus Christi is an overlooked but fascinating piece of music that gives us an insight into this High Renaissance composer whose music deserves to be ranked alongside that of Willært, de Lassus, and Palestrina. It’s a stately piece of music setting a liturgical text based…

Jacquet of Mantua (1483-1559): Ave Maria

Jacquet of Mantua was born Jacques Colebault in Vitré, Brittany, in 148 he’s referred to as Jacquet of Mantua to distinguish him from another composer Jacquet de Berchem. He was yet another northerner who went south to Italy where he worked for a variety of patrons amongst the Rangoni of Modena, the Estes, until in…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Antiphona Regali Ex Progenie

This very brief antiphon — the third antiphon at Vespers of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the cantus firmus for Fayrfax’s Mass setting Missa Regali Ex Progenie, the Mass which I’ll post at sometime in the future is an early work but is no less beautiful for that. enjoy :-). mfi

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): O rex gloriae

We’re fortunate to have Palestrina’s setting of the Magnificat Antiphon at Second Vespers on the Feast of the Ascension which this year falls today May 5th. It’s a four-part setting (SATB) and was originally published by Gardano at some point during 1563 in the Motecta festorum totius anni cum Communi Sanctorum … liber primus that…

Huw Morgan (born 1975): Alma Redemptoris Mater

The Merbecke Choir under their director Huw Morgan singing Morgan’s setting of the Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater. I’ve put the text and a translation below the video. Enjoy :-). mfi Alma Redemptoris Mater Alma redemptoris mater, quae pervia caeli porta manes et stella maris: succurre cadenti surgere qui curat populo. Gracious mother of the…

Robert White (±1538-1574): Tota pulchra es

When Robert White died at the age of thirty six during one of the many outbreaks of plague that London was subject to at the time Robert Dow made a copy of all his motets and added this epitaph ‘Greatest glory of our muses, White: you perish, but your muse remains for ever’ nor was…

Feature: Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Sancte Deus

In early Tudor England composers produced four main types of church music: Masses, Magnificats, Votive antiphons Smaller liturgical pieces From this we know that Tallis would have composed this votive antiphon for four voices (SATB) during Henry VIII’s reign but before the Reformation. It must have been fairly popular because it was set both by…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Regina caeli laetare a 8

De Victoria’s eight-part (SATB SATB) setting of the Marian antiphon Regina caeli laetare has a distinctly celebratory character it was intended to be sung at Vespers and Compline from  Easter  Sunday to  the  week  after  after Pentecost. I don’t know when it was composed but I think it must be from his Roman period when…

John Blow (1649-1708): Salvator mundi, salva nos

Many things changed drastically in England once the Puritan government fell and the monarchy under Charles II was restored. Among the things that changed was that Church music was suddenly allowable again. Among the things that didn’t change was the fact that Latin texts remained distinctly non grata in Anglican churches. This didn’t stop Purcell…