Edward Bairstow (1874–1946): Save us, O Lord

Bairstow started out as a teacher but in 1893 he took up a post combining the duties of pupil and amanuensis to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. From there he progressed through various posts as organist and choirmaster until eventually taking up the post of organist in of York Minster in 1913 a post he…

Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644): When David heard

Ramsey was probably born at some time during the 1590s but the first reliable record we have of him is at Cambridge from 1612. He seems to have spent his entire adult life at Cambridge taking a B.Mus in 1616 and being appointed or­gan­ist at or­gan­ist of Tri­n­ity Col­lege, Cambrid­ge from 1628 until his death…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Jesu salvator saeculi

Tallis’ setting of the compline hymn Jesu salvator saeculi (Jesus, saviour of the age) is an alternim setting that alternates the chant and composed music retaining the cantus firmus in the top part. Under Sarum usage it would have been sung between low Sunday and Ascension it’s typical of the new style of hymnody pioneered…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Christe Jesu, pastor bone

While the carols sung in Elizabethan England were often distinctly secular and in English, the music sung in the Cathedrals, at court, and in University Chapels was, despite the reformation, still permitted to be sung in Latin, of course making it crystal clear where your loyalties lay was also a very good idea. Taverner’s Christe…

John Taverner (±1490 – 1545): Quemadmodum

When Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace money for the college he founded suddenly became very scarce. This decided Taverner to leave his post at the college and retire to Boston where he remained for the rest of his life. He continued to compose and Quemadmodum  a setting of the first verses of Psalm 41 (42)…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): O Lord Blessed be thy name

1641 was a momentous year in English and Irish history during that year Strafford the King’s right hand man was impeached by Parliament, tried, and executed. Archbishop Laud was imprisoned, Parliament passed The Triennial Act,  there was a major Irish Uprising,  and Parliament issued The Grand Remonstrance.  Less momentous perhaps but no less important from…

Edgar Bainton (1880–1956): And I Saw A New Heaven

Edgar Bainton (1880–1956) is best known as a composer of church music and is a somewhat neglected composer in England he studied under Stanford at the Royal College of Music and starting in 1901  first a teacher and then from 1912 principal at Newcastle-upon-Tyne’s Conservatoire.  In 1914 he travelled to Bayreuth for the festival when…

Thomas Weelkes (1576–1623): Hosanna to the Son of David

This is a remarkably powerful piece of music that confirms were such a confirmation necessary that Weelkes was an outstandingly talented composer. It’s an evocation of Matthew 21:9 in which the Evangelist depicts the crowd’s reaction to Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. You can hear their enthusiasm which Weelkes underscores by repeating their initial cry of…

Walter Lambe (±1450 – ±1500): Nesciens Mater

The clearest possible indication of how important Lambe was considerered to be by his contemporaries lies in the fact that so many of his compositions were collected in the Eton Choirbook. His five part (SATTB) setting of the Marian antiphon Nesciens Mater uses the chant as its cantus firmus but surrounds it with what Harry…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Nunc Dimittis from the Great Service

Byrd’s settings for the Great Service took Anglican music forward from its hesitant and somewhat experimental phase into somewhat more splendid territory. He probably wrote the Magnificat (about which I wrote last Friday see: William Byrd (±1539-1623): Magnificat from the Great Service | Saturday Chorale) and the Nunc Dimittis last it’s beautiful music which manages…

William Mundy (±1529-1591): Vox Patris caelestis

Mundy composed Vox Patris caelestis (The voice of the heavenly Father) during Queen Mary’s reign (1553–1558) we can date it to these five years first because Mundy was too young to have written it during Henry VIII’s reign, secondly its text which is a Marian paean based upon the Song of Songs would have been…