William Byrd (±1539-1623): O Rex gloriae

O Rex gloriae (O King of glory) is the antiphon to the Magnificat for Second Vespers at Ascension. Byrd’s setting of the antiphon was published in the 1607 Gradualia it’s a five-part (AATTB) setting which demands considerable vocal range and dexterity from those singing it. Enjoy :-). mfi

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Ecce quam bonum

Ecce quam bonum was published in the 1605 Gradualia. It’s the gradual for Pentecost XXII – the Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost and is a bit unusual amongst Byrd’s Psalm settings in that it’s a setting of the entire text of the Psalm. The text of Ecce quam bonum (Psalm 132 in The Vulgate) starts by…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O salutaris hostia

O salutaris hostia (O Saving sacrifice) is the final stanza of the hymn Verbum supernum prodiens, composed by Aquinas for the Hour of Lauds in the Office of the Feast of Corpus Christi. It’s often selected for use as a hymn in its own right for Benediction and as a motet for Mass after the…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deo gratias

This four-part setting of Deo Gratias was published in the 1605 Gradualia. In his notes Andrew Carwood describes it as ‘tiny’ and so it is. Tiny, but very useful as it could be used on so many occasions and is also very beautiful. Enjoy :-). mfi

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…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Alleluia. Ascendit Deus

The Feast of the Ascension which this year falls on May 14th 2015 is celebrated forty days after Easter and celebrates Christ’s departure for Heaven. As a major feast of the Church it has particular texts read at various points of the Mass to reflect the liturgical theme proper to the day. Hence the term…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Venite

The Venite (Psalm 95) is sung during the Anglican ritual for the celebration of Matins and has been sung as part of that ritual ever since the Church of England was founded. It’s not certain when Byrd composed it but on stylistic grounds sometime in the 1580s seems the most likely. The scale and scope…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Diliges Dominum

Diliges Dominum was published in 1575 in Cantiones Sacræ it’s scored for eight voices (trebles, altos, tenors, basses) but each voice takes only one part. It’s a technically demanding piece of music one voice sings the piece from start to finish while the other sings reversed – what is called a "crab" canon.  The result…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Resurrexi

Byrd’s five- part motet (AATTB) Resurrexi (I arose) sets the text of the  Introit of the Mass for Easter Sunday. The verses are from Psalm 38 followed by a Gloria. Like most of his liturgical music it’s a terse setting with the Psalm text lasting in the region of two and a half minutes and…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Da mihi auxilium

This six-part (SAATTB) motet with divided tenors and baritones was published in Canciones Sacræ (1575). Its text is taken from Psalm 107 and is a plea to God for respite and aid in times of tribulation. It’s quite similar in style to Domine secundum actum meum they’re both Aeolian, there’s the same voices, and those…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): Felix es, sacra Virgo

Byrd published this beautiful setting of the Alleluia at Mass for the Nativity of the Virgin  in 1605 in the first volume of Gradualia. He had a very specific agenda which was to set music for "the principal Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary" together with antiphons and hymns to her.  It’s a beautifully flowing…