Sunday 22nd May 2022
William Byrd (c. 1539–1623), Mass for three voices
Byrd’s three settings of the mass text were published secretively between 1592 and 1595. They hark back to earlier Tudor polyphonic styles and share similarities with continental music of the time, in stark contrast to the plainer, Protestant church music that Byrd composed for English religious settings. Byrd’s Catholicism was something of an open secret, but it is said that Elizabeth I tolerated his recusance since she valued his music so highly.
Thomas Tallis (c. 1505–1585), If ye love me
This superb anthem is a classic example of English Protestant church music in the second half of the sixteenth century. Its simple harmony and counterpoint give the text an immediacy found in few other anthems, and demonstrate Tallis’s ability to write music which did not compromise on beauty or expression despite the anti-ornamental style in which he was compelled to write.
John Rutter (b. 1945), A Gaelic Blessing
Originally written for a Methodist church in Omaha, Nebraska, this anthem’s text is inspired by ‘an old Gaelic rune’ according to the composer. The ‘deep peace’ repeatedly mentioned in the text is beautifully expressed through the soft harmony, rippling accompaniment, and lyrical melody.