If ever a piece was designed to speak directly to the Catholic community, it is the five-voice Haec dicit Dominus
. The text speaks of the Old Testament character Rachel, whose sons have been murdered—a telling choice of subject for those who were witnessing the execution of their supporters and priests. Rachel is bereft and destitute and she refuses all comfort. But the answer from the Lord is positive and forward looking—‘et est spes’—‘and there is hope’. The Latin words are incredibly direct and simple, and so powerful and unexpected is this statement that the music almost stops. These are exactly the words that the people needed to hear and Byrd makes sure they are as clear as if an angel of the Lord had appeared and spoken.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2009