is a favourite motet with singers and writers on Byrd’s music alike for its energy and madrigalian resourcefulness. Since it was first published in 1589 we may conclude that it was written in the first half of Byrd’s career, probably for the Chapel Royal to sing as a non-liturgical extra item at any service in Advent. Its Latin text and the outward-going nature of the music suggest that it did not come under direct Anglican influence, but anticipated a more courtly audience. The madrigalisms are expertly managed: the spirited ascending scale for the crowing cock at ‘an galli cantu’, the slowing down of the harmonic rhythm for the sleep-laden ‘dormientes’, the breath-taking speed of the imitation, amounting to a brief canon between soprano and second tenor, at ‘repente’ (one of the trickiest phrases to make cohere that I know).
from notes by Peter Phillips © 2006