The original version of this piece in D minor (untransposed Dorian mode) was composed for 5-part consort by Robert Parsons. This In nomine
was one of his most famous consort works. Parsons was a prolific composer who may have had contact with the young Byrd. His death (he drowned in the river Trent at Newark on 25 January 1571/2) also created the opening which allowed Byrd to be sworne in as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. Only Forster names Byrd as the author of this keyboard version but the attribution is plausible since one of Byrd’s 5-part consort In nomine
settings seems to be a homage to the same Parsons work. Byrd’s contribution to the piece is nevertheless small, apart from a couple of right-hand flourishes at important cadences. The arrangement probably dates from the period when Parsons was still alive and the young Byrd was still interested in cantus firmus technique, probably no later than the mid-1560s.
The name In Nomine is derived from the ‘Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini’ of John Taverner’s Mass based on the plainsong Gloria tibi trinitas. The cantus firmus of all In Nomine settings is thus that same plainsong, and can be heard here in the alto part in long held notes (the first two notes of the piece are the first two notes of the plainsong cantus firmus). The complete plainsong may be heard, treated in the complementary cantus fractus technique in Byrd’s own Gloria tibi trinitas setting.
from notes by Davitt Moroney © 1999