Much discussion has taken place about Suscipe quaeso Domine
, a monumental piece in two sections scored for seven voices. It has been suggested that this text, strongly penitential and rhetorical, could have been written and performed at the ceremony when Cardinal Pole (appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by Mary Tudor) absolved England from schism in November 1554. Certainly it is full of passion and shows Tallis to have an unusually close relationship with his text. The harmonic shift and use of homophony at the word ‘peccavi’ (‘I have sinned’) juxtaposed with the upward yearning of ‘gratia tua’ (‘by your grace’) is certainly powerful, whilst the emphatic questions in the second part and the repeated ‘Quis enim iustus?’ (‘For what just man?’) demand the listener’s attention. In many ways the involvement with the text and the use of rhetoric seems to lead directly to William Byrd’s setting of Infelix ego
, another intensely personal text which gives rise to an intensely personal response from the composer.
from notes by Andrew Carwood © 2005