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…

Cipriano de Rore (c1515-1565): Fratres: Scitote

The second of two five-part motets by De Rore that take their text from the writings of St. Paul  Fratres: Scitote  (Brothers: Know this) sets 1 Corinthians 11: 23-24  in which Paul recounts how during the Last Supper Jesus instituted Holy Communion by taking bread, blessing it, and distributing it. The motet is a bit…

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…

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…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Circumdederunt me

The tessitura of Byrd’s surprisingly continental sounding five-part (ATTBB) setting of Circumdederunt me the text of which is adapted from Psalm 17 verses 5-7  in the Vulgate moves ever upwards becoming ever more intense until we come to his pleas O Domine, libera animam meam (O Lord, free my soul) at which point the music…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

I’ve written about Byrd’s six-part setting of a text from Psalm 107 before that posting featured a performance by The Cardinall’s Musick under Andrew Carwood, it’s a fine performance as is this somewhat different perfomance by I Fagiolini under Robert Hollingworth which is well worth hearing not only in its own right but also by…

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…

Jacob Handl (1550–1591): Missa Super Sancta Maria

Despite his relatively short life, Handl musical output was vast around five hundred works known to be by him survive most of these are religious works and the overwhelming majority of them three hundred and seventy four motets scored for between four and twenty-four voices are to be found in his four volume Opus musicum.…