John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Haste Thee O God (attr.)

Compared to that other Tudor-era composers Sheppard’s music is still relatively little known and infrequently performed which is perhaps why this recording of Haste the, O God, a setting of Psalm 70 generally attributed to Sheppard is the first ever recording of it. It’s also been attributed to Tye but it sounds more like Sheppard…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Euge caeli porta

In early Tudor England the cult of the Virgin Mary was in full flower. There was considerable demand for Marian music, antiphons, motets, hymns, and settings of liturgical texts to be sung in the special votive Mass of the Virgin known as the Lady Mass. Euge caeli porta (Welcome gate of heaven) is one such…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria

We know very little about Sheppard’s life (and much of what we ‘knew’ turns out to be wrong) but his contemporaries and later generations of musicians fully recognised his importance more than 40 years after his death Thomas Morley praised his music.  His Latin works mostly date from the reigns of Henry VII and Mary…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Derelinquat impius

Derelinquat impius (May the unrighteous) takes its text from Isaiah and was the fifth Respond at Matins on the First Sunday in Lent. Andrew Carwood describes it as "surprising and unsettling because of the peregrinations of the opening bars" with some "eyebrow-raising melodic moments".  But surely that was the entire point? Tallis rarely, very rarely,…

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…

Mudd: Let thy merciful ears

We don’t know which of the Mudds composed this setting of the collect for the tenth sunday after Trinity. It could have been Henry Mudd, either of his two sons, or his grandson Thomas. (Just to make dating and attribution even more difficult it’s been wrongly ascribed to Weelkes). It’s a short but lovely piece…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Miserere nostri, Domine

The phrase "Miserere nostri, Domine" (Have mercy on us Lord) appears twice in the Liturgy once as  the third verse of psalm 122 and again as the second last verse of the Te Deum. The phrase itself is an alternative form of the more familiar Miserere nobis found in the ordinary of the Mass. It’s…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Aspice, Domine quia facta est

Byrd’s  of the Matins Respond for November was published in the 1575 Cantiones Sacræ. The text is from The Lamentations and it’s a six-part setting for divided tenors and means that clearly shows Ferrabosco’s influence in its Italianate structure of lengthy imitative writing followed by very brief homophonic passages. The effect is quite dark but…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Peccantem me quotidie

Byrd’s five-part (SATTB) setting of the seventh respond at the matins for the dead is a surprisingly old-fashioned piece of writing that harkens back to Fayrfax, Cornysh, and Ludford. It’s a little surprising that Byrd selected such an old-fashioned style as he along with his contemporaries was busy exploring the possibilities offered by the mean…