• Recording reviews

    Recommended Recording: Christmas with the Tallis Scholars

    This album explores a wide range of Medieval and Renaissance Christmas music, including carols, motets, and masses. There are composers from England, Spain, Germany, France, and the Low Countries. There are familiar pieces (e.g. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen by Michael Praetorius [1571-1621], the same harmonization we sing as “I know a rose-tree springing,” #17 in our Hymnal) and some remarkable and rarely heard gems (e.g., the seven-part motet Beata es Virgo Maria by Philippe Verdelot [1480? -1532?]). All of the music in this 2-1/2 hour collection has been issued on previous Tallis Scholars albums, but the producers have done the world a great favor by serving them up in one feast.…

  • Repertoire

    Tallis, Out from the Deep

    Psalm 130 is traditionally the sixth of seven penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143). Its Latin designation (the italic title in the Book of Common Prayer) is De profundis, and the first words in English are “Out of the deep.” The figurative depth in question is one of floundering and despair, a condition caused not by external circumstances, but by a sense of the need for divine mercy and forgiveness. Psalm 130 may have been set to music more than any other Psalm, since it was long used in daily prayers in churches and monasteries, in East and West. The short setting Out from the Deep by Thomas…

  • Composers

    Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)

    Thomas Tallis is one of the pre-eminent composers of the Edwardian and early Elizabethan period, in the opinion of some experts (such as Peter Phillips, director of the Tallis Scholars) one of the greatest English composers of all time. His work had a lasting influence in the development of music within the Anglican tradition, and so is a staple in our choir’s repertoire. Scholars believe that much of the music he composed has sadly been lost, destroyed during the “cleansing” of all things liturgical during the Puritan regime in the seventeenth century. You can read more about Tallis’s life and work in “Sacred song and the Tudors.” Works by Thomas Tallis…

  • Repertoire

    Tallis, Blessed are those that be undefiled

    This anthem by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) is a setting of Psalm 119:1-6. The translation is from the Coverdale Psalter (1535), which is the text used in the Book of Common Prayer. Blessed are those that be undefiled in the way : and walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies : and seek him with their whole heart. For they who do no wickedness : walk in his ways. Thou hast charged us O Lord : that we shall diligently keep thy commandments. O that our ways were made so direct : that we might keep thy statutes! So shall we not be confounded…

  • Essays

    A Tudor tutorial

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the May/June 2014 issue of Touchstone magazine.] If asked on a game show or in some artsy version of Trivial Pursuit to connect industrialist Andrew Carnegie with music, most of us would answer “Carnegie Hall.” As it happens, New York’s famed concert venue is only one performance space made possible by Andrew Carnegie’s sense of noblesse oblige. Carnegie’s home of Pittsburgh and its suburb of Homestead, Pennsylvania also have concert halls bearing his name, as does Lewisburg, West Virginia and Dunfermline, Scotland, his birthplace. Dumfermline is also the home of the Carnegie UK Trust, one of the many charitable organizations enabled by Carnegie’s…

  • Service music

    Music for SS. Simon & Jude (Trinity 22, October 28, 2018)

    This year, the 22nd Sunday after Trinity falls on the feast-day of St. Simon and St. Jude. The Collect for the day: “O ALMIGHTY God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone; Grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine, that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” Our Offertory Anthem on this Sunday is “Blessed are those that be undefiled,” a setting of the first six verses of Psalm 119 by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). The Communion Motet for this Sunday is…

  • Essays

    Sacred song and the Tudors

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Touchstone magazine. Recordings of each of the musical works mentioned are assembled at the bottom of this page.] During the sixteenth century, the Church was still the most significant patron of musical composition and performance. Opera had not yet been born nor had the orchestra (as we now understand it), and public concerts were quite rare until the eighteenth century. Some professional musicians were employed by wealthy royal and noble patrons, but even a great deal of the work produced by court composers was for use in private chapels, so a large proportion of music emanating from “secular” settings…