Descendit de caelis
has a ravishing texture. Byrd proudly displays his English heritage by setting a pre-Reformation Sarum rite text involving a cantus firmus (a favourite device of John Sheppard
and his contemporaries) complete with dissonances and false relations. Yet as so often with Byrd there is a nod in the direction of modern ideas, at the words ‘lux et decus’ (‘the light and glory’) he uses a hopeful, upward-rising phrase which he was to develop further in the set of Propers for the Feast of Candlemas (recorded on Volume 8 of this series), which celebrates Christ as the light of the world.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2009