Perhaps the most popular and widely performed of all Byrd’s compositions is the exquisitely understated Ave verum corpus
. Written in G dorian against the mixolydian Propers it is an almost unique example of modal mismatch in the Gradualia
. As befits Byrd’s earlier devotional motets for penitence Ave verum corpus
contains intense homophonic statements coupled with lucid counterpoint (most notably at the plea ‘miserere mei’), which suggests that the work may significantly predate its publication.
from notes by David Skinner © 1996