William Byrd (1539/40–1623) learned his art from Thomas Tallis and became one of the most successful of Tudor composers. Byrd worked as Organist and Master of the Choristers at Lincoln Cathedral between 1563 and 1570 before moving to London to become a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal following the accidental death of Robert Parsons. At the chapel he worked jointly with Tallis. In 1575 Tallis and Byrd secured a royal patent for the printing and distribution of part-music. The five-part anthem Laetentur caeli
, from their first publication Cantiones Sacrae
, is a setting of the Processional Respond for Advent Sunday in the Sarum usage. It is virtuosic in its command of florid, imitative counterpoint and seems to have been composed with the utmost ease. Little wonder that Squire remarked that Byrd ‘seems rapidly to have made his way’ after his arrival in London.
from notes by William McVicker © 1997