William Byrd (±1539-1623): Tribue Domine

When Queen Mary died the Catholic Church as the spiritual home of the English people rapidly followed her into the grave. No doubt the more strongly protestant wing of the reformers hoped that the practice of setting Latin texts to music for religious purposes would quickly become a thing of the past and had Edward…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Oculi Omnium

Byrd’s four-part (ATTB) setting  of Oculi Omnium which was prescribed as the Gradual & Alleluia for Corpus Christi & Votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament was published in the 1605 Gradualia of (vol. 2, no. 2), it’s a very direct setting of the text that moves to three voices at ‘Aperis tu manum tuam …’…

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…

William Mundy (±1529-1591): Adolescentulus sum ego

This six-part through-composed votive antiphon sets Psalm 118:141-142 in the Vulgate1 . It’s a bit scaled down but still very substantial in terms of its structure and its musical texture which consists of very tightly woven imitative polyphony gets ever richer as the motet progresses. It’s more proof, if proof were needed, that Mundy was…

Derrick Gerarde (fl c1540–80): Sive vigilem

Gerarde was a Flemish composer who moved to England where he worked for first Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, and then his son-in-law Lord Lumley very little is known of his life and anything you read about him is at best  speculative and at worst downright misleading. Most of his surviving music is found in…

Peter Philips (±1560-1628): O quam suavis

This is the second of two settings by Philips of O quam suavis the Magnificat Antiphon for First Vespers on the Feast of Corpus Christi, it’s an eight-part (SATB.SATB) setting  and was published in the 1613 in the first edition of his Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus. The setting is a bit unusual in that he…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Magnificat super O bone Jesu

Fayrfax’s 5-part (treble, mean, contratenor, tenor and bass) setting of the Magnificat takes a now lost antiphon O bone Jesu(O good Jesus) as its starting point. It’s and alternatim setting with Fayrfax setting only the even-numbered verses leaving the odd-numbered ones as chant. Like most of his music it combines clarity with some very complex…

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521): Antiphona Regali Ex Progenie

This very brief antiphon — the third antiphon at Vespers of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the cantus firmus for Fayrfax’s Mass setting Missa Regali Ex Progenie, the Mass which I’ll post at sometime in the future is an early work but is no less beautiful for that. enjoy :-). mfi

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Come, Holy Ghost

You may have heard Tallis’ English language setting of Veni Creator referred to as "Tallis’ Ordinal" it’s to be found in the whole Psalter translated into English metre published in 1567 by the Elizabethan music printer John Day. That psalter contained inter alia metrical translations of psalms by Matthew Parker, the first Anglican Archbishop of…

Robert White (±1538-1574): Domine, quis habitabit (III)

Mid-sixteenth century English composers were great admirers of Josquin and sought to emulate him. His psalm motets were particularly admired and pretty much everyone tried their hand at least once, White was no exception this is his setting of Psalm 14 – you might find it interesting to contrast it with Byrd’s setting about  which…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Audivi vocem de caelo

Taverner’s setting of this responsory takes its text from Matthew 25: 4-6. At first sight it’s a standard alternatim setting in which the chant alternates with polyphony in which it can also be heard as a cantus firmus but its original scoring is somewhat unusual in that it was originally scored for high voices only…