Quaesumus omnipotens et misericors Deus
is ostensibly for six voices, although there is no point at which six voices are deployed simultaneously. Moreover, the fifth voice down (baritone in modern parlance) is missing from the only source (a set of partbooks copied around the time of Tye’s death) and therefore requires reconstruction (here by Nigel Davison in 1987). It is a paraliturgical motet whose text was adapted from a prayer for Henry VII (the revised prayer is tendered on behalf of ‘thy family’ rather than specifically for the King). From the outset, the alternation of high and low voices with their muscularly close internal imitation announces that this is music by Christopher Tye; indeed the motet provides a measurable amount of musical material for the Missa Euge bone
. English cadences at the words ‘in terris’ and ‘gratiosi’, along with Tye’s trademark interrupted subdominant cadence at the word ‘devitata’, lend fervour and directness to this Latin work which was, unusually, written during King Edward VI’s reign (1547–1553). Tye gave music lessons to Edward VI (Henry VII’s grandson), and the fact that the text had originally been designed as an intercession for the young King’s grandfather goes some way towards explaining the composition and tolerance of Tye’s Latin motet in rampantly Protestant times.
from notes by Jeremy Summerly © 2012