Sunday 5th December

William Byrd (1543-1623), Organist of Lincoln Cathedral and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, is arguably the most significant English church musician of his day. The quality of his vocal music is second to none, and as significant is his establishment of a truly English style of instrumental writing. Perhaps it is for these reasons that his Roman Catholicism was at least partially tolerated, although he and his wife were not without their share of trouble from the authorities. Many of the fine Latin-texted works he composed were for the private, illegal services, at which Byrd was often present. The mass for four voices is beautifully crafted, using the polyphonic techniques favoured by continental composers combined with a particularly expressive approach to the text.

 

Felix Mendelssohn spent much of his time in Britain, where he was a great favourite of Queen Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert. His Symphony No. 2, known as the Lobgesang (Hymn of Praise), was first performed in Leipzig in 1840: it was composed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the invention of printing. In its English version, the work has remained popular with choral societies. I waited for the Lord features a soprano duet with accompanimental passages from the full choir. It is available on the choir’s CD, ‘Hope Soars Above’.

Text:

I waited for the Lord, he inclined unto me,

he heard my complaint.

O blest are they that hope and trust in him.

 

Francisco Guerrero (1528-99) was one of the most widely published Spanish composers of his generation, second in reputation only to Victoria. He worked at Seville Cathedral from 1551 until his death, and through his regular travelling, his music was much performed in the Spanish-American colonies.

Text/Translation:

Canite tuba in Sion,
quia prope est dies Domini:
ecce veniet ad salvandum nos.
Erunt prava in directa,
et aspera in vias planas:
veni, Domine, et noli tardare.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, for the day of the Lord is at hand:
behold, He comes to save us.
The crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways plain:
come, Lord, do not delay.

 

 

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