Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Magnificat Regale

Shortly after he was crowned Henry VIII made clear that Fayrfax stood high in his favour by awarding him the sum of £9 2/6 (nine pounds two shillings and six pence) to be paid on top of Fayrfax’s salary from the Chapel Royal. We don’t know when Fayrfax composed this setting of the Magnificat to…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Most clere of colour

When we think of English renaissance sung music we tend to think in terms of the large-scale polyphonic music written for cathedrals, colleges, and the Chapel Royal. Certainly this music is worthy of our fullest attention but it would be a mistake to ignore the chamber-song repertory of the time. Much of it is both…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O Rex gloriae

O Rex gloriae (O King of glory) is the antiphon to the Magnificat for Second Vespers at Ascension. Byrd’s setting of the antiphon was published in the 1607 Gradualia it’s a five-part (AATTB) setting which demands considerable vocal range and dexterity from those singing it. Enjoy :-). mfi

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Domine non sum dignus

The text of this communion  motet comes from Luke 7: 6-7, which relates the how Christ healed the Centurion’s servant in Capernaum.  It’s a text that’s used in the Mass to prepare the communicant(s) to receive the Host ‘Domine non sum dignus’  (Lord I am not worthy). Byrd’s setting is precise, polished, and very very…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Ecce quam bonum

Ecce quam bonum was published in the 1605 Gradualia. It’s the gradual for Pentecost XXII – the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost and is a bit unusual amongst Byrd’s Psalm settings in that it’s a setting of the entire text of the Psalm. The text of Ecce quam bonum (Psalm 132 in The Vulgate) starts by…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Constitues eos principes

Constitues eos principes (You will make them princes) is one of three pieces of music that Byrd composed specifically for the feast of saints Peter and Paul, he published it in the 1607 Gradualia. It’s a six-part setting, confident and modern and full of energy in which the anguish we associate with the Cantiones is…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Alleluia. Ascendit Deus

The Feast of the Ascension which this year falls on May 14th 2015 is celebrated forty days after Easter and celebrates Christ’s departure for Heaven. As a major feast of the Church it has particular texts read at various points of the Mass to reflect the liturgical theme proper to the day. Hence the term…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Resurrexi

Byrd’s five- part motet (AATTB) Resurrexi (I arose) sets the text of the  Introit of the Mass for Easter Sunday. The verses are from Psalm 38 followed by a Gloria. Like most of his liturgical music it’s a terse setting with the Psalm text lasting in the region of two and a half minutes and…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Tribulatio proxima est

Byrd’s penitential motet Tribulatio proxima est (Tribulation is near ) was published in the Cantiones Sacrae of 1591 and takes its text from Psalms 21 and 69 respectively. As you might expect of Byrd the music serves to portray the text so we have a strong outcry at the plea for justice (vindica me), twisted…