Elizabeth’s first Archbishop of Canterbury was Matthew Parker, a former chaplain to the Queen’s mother Anne Boleyn. In 1567, he published his own translation of the Psalter into English metrical verse and at the back of the publication are nine ‘Tunes’ written by Tallis to allow the Psalms to be sung rather than said. Tallis’ Psalm Tunes are all in the same metre, so if the people wished to sing all of the Psalms, they would have to use other melodies to fit the wider variety of metres used by Parker. Each Psalm (strictly speaking, Tallis sets eight Psalms, plus the Ordinal Veni creator
) is preceded by a short tag or ‘argument’ which provides a headline meditation on what is to follow, and each is concluded with a Collect or prayer. The publisher (or Tallis himself) provided a rubric, stating that the melody is found in the tenor part and that if there is a choir present, then the harmonies may be used.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2013