The five-part setting of the Magnificat by Thomas Tallis (c1505– 1585) is a fine example of this composer’s style from the middle years of the sixteenth century. Tallis was an English composer of great ability and adaptability. He served four successive monarchs throughout the troubled Reformation period in England and produced music which suited the conditions of the time: large-scale Latin votive antiphons for Henry VIII, short miniatures in English for Edward VI, more extensive, thicker-textured Latin motets for Mary and Latin devotional motets for Elizabeth. This setting of the Magnificat is difficult to date. Its Latin text suggests that it must have been written for Henry or Mary but its style seems reminiscent of an earlier age than the mid-1550s.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2006