With Mary’s death in 1558 the Latin rite was officially defunct in England. Nonetheless, the young Elizabeth (herself a skilled musician) maintained Catholic sentiments and encouraged the continued composition of Latin-texted music, even though such works could never be officially sung in the church. In 1575 Elizabeth granted Thomas Tallis and William Byrd full privilege and licence for twenty-one years ‘to imprint any and so many as they will of set songe or songes in partes, either in English, Latine,... or other tongues that may serue for musicke either in Churche or chamber’. The collection, containing seventeen pieces by each composer, was reputedly presented to the Queen on Accession Day in 1575 on 17 November in the seventeenth year of her reign. Byrd’s contribution included the monumental Tribue, Domine
, the longest of his early works, which is printed in three sections successively in the Cantiones
. Here Byrd expertly sustains variety and contrast throughout by employing homophony, antiphonal writing and two-, three-, five- and six-part polyphony, while paying close attention to the meaning and expression of the text, as he invariably did in his later Latin works.
from notes by David Skinner © 1998