Peter Philips, together with Richard Dering, stands apart from the illustrious group of English composers active at the end of the sixteenth and start of the seventeenth centuries, by reason of exile. After childhood and youth in London as a choirboy at St Paul’s Cathedral, Philips (who was firmly Catholic) fled to the continent in 1582. After various European travels, he settled in Antwerp, where he enjoyed a succesful career as composer and teacher, later moving to Brussels where he was chapel organist to the Archduke Albert. Philips’s musical contacts being more with his continental contemporaries than with his compatriots, it is not surprising that his motets (most of which were published in his lifetime) are generally more Italian than English in style. O beatum et sacrosanctum diem
, from his Cantiones Sacrae
of 1612, is a joyful Christmas motet—one which seems, incidentally, to have furnished the model for Sweelinck’s better-known Hodie Christus natus est
. The basso continuo part indicates that accompaniment, probably by organ, was expected.
from notes by Collegium Records © 1997