William Byrd (±1539-1623): Teach Me, O Lord

It must have been an agonising experience for Byrd to see his hopes for the five-year English Catholic renaissance of 1553–58 dashed with the death of Queen Mary. A devout, and stubborn Catholic he was to live the remainder of his life under protestant monarchs. Fortunately for him, and for us, he managed the difficult…

William Mundy (±1529-1591): Vox Patris caelestis

Mundy composed Vox Patris caelestis (The voice of the heavenly Father) during Queen Mary’s reign (1553–1558) we can date it to these five years first because Mundy was too young to have written it during Henry VIII’s reign, secondly its text which is a Marian paean based upon the Song of Songs would have been…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Libera nos, salva nos I

Although the text of Libera nos, salva nos is from the first antiphon at Matins on Trinity Sunday its  plea to to the Holy Trinity for freedom, redemption, and absolution is so general in tone that Sheppard’s setting which most probably dates from his time at Magdalen College, Oxford was used on other occasions not…

William Child (1606-1697): O praise the Lord

William Child is largely forgotten today and when musicologists do discuss his music they tend to dismiss it as unimaginative and utilitarian. I very much doubt though that that is what his contemporaries and his successors, who included Blow and Purcell thought. We may today be grateful for our rich inheritance of music from Blow,…

Thomas Tallis (±1505-1585): Videte miraculum

The feast of the Purification or Candlemas as it is called in Britain and Ireland falls on February 2nd. Videte miraculum is the Responsory at First Vespers of the Purification  Tallis’ setting is based upon plainchant and consists of the full choir alternatim with solo or solo group – the solo portions being unoramented chant…

Edward Elgar(1857-1934): They are at rest

Elgar wrote his choral elegy ‘They are at rest‘ was response to a commission from Sir Walter Parratt for an anthem to be sung on the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s death. The text is by Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and it was first performed at the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore on January 22nd 1910.…

Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644) How Are The Mighty Fallen

Very little is known about the life of Robert Ramsey (fl c1612-1644) he’s believed to have been born some time during the 1590s and there are records of him at Cambridge from 1612. He graduated B.Mus in 1616 was appointed organist at organist of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1628 until his death in 1644. He…

Feature: Christopher Tye (c1505-before 15 March 1573): Western Wynde Mass

‘England one God, one truth, one doctor hath for music’s art—and that is Dr Tye’ (Edward VI quoting his father Henry VII’s opinion of his music teacher Christopher Tye). Like his exact contemporary Thomas Tallis Christopher Tye successfully navigated the storms of the English reformation. Both Tye and Tallis composed music for Protestant and Catholic…