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. Tallis’s selection was apparently retrospective, with Salvator mundi
given pride of place at the head of the publication.
from notes by David Skinner © 1998