William Byrd (±1539-1623): O gloriosa Domina

O Gloriosa Domina is the second half of the hymn Quem terra, pontus, aethera composed by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers. Both were sung during the Little Office of The Virgin which, as I wrote on May 16th, 2016 in my posting on Quem terra, pontus, aethera remained wildly popular with Catholics during Byrd’s…

William Mundy (±1529-1591): The secret sins

Mundy wrote The secret sins fairly late on in life it’s an early example of a piece in which a single voice with an independent accompaniment is echoed by a choir singing as one. The model for this novelty was most likely the choirboy plays performed by boys from St Paul’s, the Chapel Royal, and…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Æterne Rex altissime

The hymn Aeterne Rex altissime (Eternal king most high) is rather more than a thousand years old. It was first cited by the Saxon monk, theologian and poet  Gottschalk of Orbais (808 AD -867 AD) and included the 9th-century New Hymnal.  Sheppard’s setting would have been intended to be sung at Vespers on Ascension Day,…

John Dankworth (1927-2010): Light of the World

If you know the English jazz scene you probably think of the late John Dankworth either as a brilliant jazz composer and saxophonist or as Cleo Laine’s husband but his talents were too great and too broad to be confined to any one genre. His setting of Paul Wigmore’s "Light of the world" is a…

Cives celestis patrie

[16] And the city lieth in a foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the golden reed for twelve thousand furlongs, and the length and the height and the breadth thereof are equal. [17] And he measured the wall thereof an hundred and forty-four cubits,…

Arvo Pärt (b1935): Veni, Creator

Veni, Creator Spiritus attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856) is one of the Church’s most famous hymns. As well as at Vespers it’s used at any ceremony at which the Holy Spirit is invoked such as Confirmation, Pentecost, and ordination. Pärt’s setting of the first and fourth verses of the hymn was first performed in Fulda…