Henry Purcell (1659-1695): O dive custos Auriacae

Purcell setting of Henry Parker’s poem O dive custos Auriacae domus ‘An elegy upon the death of Queen Mary’ is a stunning piece of music. The poem’s calls upon the Isis and the Cam (the Oxbridge rivers) to weep for their deceased Queen. It’s in the form of a duet and is a wonderful example…

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623): Give ear, O Lord

The text of Weelkes’ anthem ‘Give ear, O Lord’ is from William Hunnis’ (d1597) collection of devotional texts ‘An humble sute of a repentant sinner for mercie’ it’s a penitential text and there are some indications that Weelkes and Hunnis, who was master of the Chapel Royal choristers at the time he wrote it, knew…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Forgive me, Lord my sin

Very little is known about this piece, we don’t know when Tallis composed it, or for whom, or for what occasion. But it appears in both editions of James Clifford’s published collections of anthem texts. Clifford’s collection was the “greatest hits” compilation of the time so “Forgive me, Lord my sin” must have been both…

John Taverner (±1490—1545): O splendor gloriae

Taverner’s Jesus antiphon O splendor gloriae probably dates from Taverner’s later years in Boston and was most likely a commission from the Boston Guild of Corpus Christi, to Taverner he belonged. It’s composed on a very grand scale but the scale in no way detracts from the clarity of its texture. Taverner made heavy use…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Teach Me, O Lord

It must have been an agonising experience for Byrd to see his hopes for the five-year English Catholic renaissance of 1553–58 dashed with the death of Queen Mary. A devout, and stubborn Catholic he was to live the remainder of his life under protestant monarchs. Fortunately for him, and for us, he managed the difficult…