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Plorans plorabit

author of text

This is one of the few non-liturgical motets in the 1605 Gradualia: its text is clearly one of the several chosen by Byrd for musical setting (mainly in the 1589 and 1591 Cantiones Sacrae) because of their relevance to the English Catholic ‘captivity’; its double meaning even extends to the warning that the King and Queen (James I and Anne) who are keeping ‘the Lord’s flock’ captive will be brought low. The sombre character of this text is reflected in its vocal layout, with only one soprano line but divided altos. In 1622 Henry Peacham, in The Compleat Gentleman, wrote that Byrd was ‘of him selfe naturally disposed to Gravitie and Pietie’, and in this piece he wrote one of the finest and most eloquent of his laments. Apart from a half-close in its thirty-sixth bar, the eighty-six-bar piece sweeps forward from beginning to end as if in one intense flood of grief, controlled only by the discipline of its tightly-knit polyphony.

from notes by John Rutter © 1989


Byrd: Ave verum corpus & other sacred music
CSCD507Download only
Libera nos - The Cry of the Oppressed
SIGCD338Download only


Track 6 on CSCD507 [5'10] Download only
Track 9 on SIGCD338 [5'07] Download only

Track-specific metadata

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