Byrd's five part (SAATB) setting of verses seventeen and eighteen from Jeremiah 13 was published in the 1605 Gradualia. It's a bit unusual in that unlike most of the content of the 1605 gradualia it's not a liturgical motet. Further more its text was manifestly chosen as a reference to the situation of the English Catholic community and their persecution at the hands of an increasingly hostile protestant state. In fact in choosing these particular verses Byrd was going quite a bit further than he'd gone before in warning the monarch and his queen (James I and Anne of Denmark) that their continuing to hold the Lord's flock captive would lead to divine retribution unless they humbled themselves :
Plorans plorabit, et deducet oculus meus lacrimas, quia captus est grex Domini. Dic regi et
dominatrici: Humiliamini, sedete, quoniam descendit de capite vestro corona gloriae vestrae.
Mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away
captive. Say unto the king and to the queen, Humble yourselves, sit down: for your
principalities shall come down, even the crown of your glory.
Jeremiah 13, vv. 17–18
The sense of grief throughout this lament for the condition of his fellow Catholics is palpable it's a flood of grief and anger that sweeps all before it. Enjoy :-).
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