Vox patris caelestis
, inspired as it is by examples by Tallis and Sheppard, can be considered the culmination of the great antiphon tradition, the most grandiose musical form of the century. Typically, it begins with two voices only, expanding to a trio before the full choir enters with éclat; in the second half, now in duple instead of triple time, the solo sections are enlarged in scope, climaxing in a ‘gymel’ (derived from the Latin for ‘twin’) where two equal treble voices soar above the rich accompaniment of double alto and bass. Even in full sections the vocal writing is elaborate and virtuosic, the range daunting; contrast this with the measured grace of Latin anthems like Sive vigilem
and Beatus et sanctus
, sophisticated examples of the developing Elizabethan motet—tightly controlled and affecting music.
from notes by Nicolas Robertson © 1989