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…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Nunc dimittis a 5

This five-part (SAT[Bar]B) Latin-texted setting of the Song of Simeon is found only in the Baldwin partbooks. The fact that it’s in Latin presents problems for musical historians with tidy minds because, being in Latin, he surely wouldn’t have composed it during Edward VI’s sternly protestant reign when composers with Catholic sympathies were keeping their…

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625): This is the record of John

Gibbons’ anthem for five voices (SAATB or ATTBB) This is the record of John is a wonderful example of  the verse anthem. It consists of solos that alternate with full choral passages in which the choir repeats the words of the preceding solo section. The writing for the soloist is almost declamatory – Timothy Dickey…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Purge me o Lord

Tallis composed this very brief anthem for Edward VI’s sternly protestant England. It’s for four voices (SATB) and in the in ABB form (in other words it’s in two sections the second of which is repeated exactly – mfi) that was so popular with Edwardian and early Elizabethan composers.  These days it’s most often sung…

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…

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623): Rejoice in the Lord

The first time I heard Weelkes’ setting of verses 1, 2 and 4 of Psalm 33 (the text of verse 2 is slightly adapted) I was surprised at how severely plain and unadorned it was –  not in Weelkes’ normal style at all. It’s a Full anthem for four voices (SATB) and organ with some…

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…