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Quomodo cantabimus

author of text
Psalm 137

In 1584 Byrd engaged in a dialogue in motet form with Philippe de Monte (1521-1603). De Monte had travelled to England as a singer in the Royal chapel choir forming part of the Spanish King Philip II’s entourage as he celebrated his marriage to Queen Mary. The 11-year-old Byrd is believed to have met him on that occasion. Thirty years later de Monte, now employed in Prague, sent Byrd his 8-part motet Super flumina Babylonis, a setting of the first three verses of a well-known song of captivity, Psalm 137 (136 in the Vulgate). Its meaning ‘By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered thee, O Zion’ would not have been lost on Byrd, who reciprocated by setting the next four verses of the same psalm, also in eight parts and in the same key. The translation of Quomodo cantabimus (How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land) can leave little doubt about Byrd’s feelings as a recusant Catholic in the newly-protestant England.

from notes by Phillip Borg-Wheeler © 2016


Byrd & Britten: Choral works
Studio Master: SIGCD481Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Byrd & Monte: The Word Unspoken
SIGCD295Download only
Libera nos - The Cry of the Oppressed
SIGCD338Download only


Track 11 on SIGCD295 [6'28] Download only
Track 4 on SIGCD338 [8'38] Download only
Track 16 on SIGCD481 [8'07] Download only

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