The Song the Virgine Soong – Christmas Music from Tudor England


Compact disc

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Cambridge Taverner Choir

During the reigns of the first two Tudor kings – Henry VII and Henry VIII – the feast of Christmas was celebrated with music in a remarkable range of styles and forms. At one extreme was strictly liturgical polyphony: a festive adornment of the Mass or the services of Matins and Vespers, and setting texts from those services that would otherwise have been sung to plainchant.…

Beyond the genre of festal polyphony with Latin text, there flourished before the Reformation the ‘carol’ with text in English or a mixture of English and Latin. These pieces consisted of verses preceded by and alternating with a ‘burden’ or refrain.

Although carol texts encompass a variety of subjects (includingt the Passion), most are concerned principally with Christmas and/or the Virgin.The Cambridge Taverner Choir, founded in 1986, specialises in the performance of sacred polyphony in illuminating thematic, liturgical, and physical contexts, aiming to recreate the musical grandeur and excitement of the European Renaissance, especially the Tudor age in England and the Iberian ‘Golden Age’.

Track Title Composer
1 Quid petis, o fili? Richard Pygott
2 Nowell: Dieus wous garde Richard Smert
3 Videte miraculum Thomas Tallis
4 Lully, lulla, thow littel tyne child – ‘The Coventry Carol’ Anonymous
5 This day Christ was born William Byrd
6 Lullaby, my sweet little baby William Byrd
7 Swete was the song the Virgine soong Aonymous
8 Gloria from Missa ‘Puer natus es nobis’ Thomas Tallis
9 Jesu mercy, how may this be? (John?) Browne