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Thomas Tallis, Queen Katherine Parr & Songs of Reformation

Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, 10 Nov 2017
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Product details

  • Conductor: David Skinner
  • Composer: Thomas Tallis
  • Audio CD (10 Nov. 2017)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Obsidian
  • ASIN: B07539TFV4
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,046 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Digital Booklet: Tallis: Queen Katherine Parr & Songs of Reformation
Digital Booklet: Tallis: Queen Katherine Parr & Songs of Reformation
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Product description

Product Description

In 1978 an extraordinary discovery was made behind plasterwork in the walls of Corpus Christi College, Oxford: music from Thomas Tallis s grandest motet Gaude gloriosa, but with unidentified English words (see attached image). The discovery remained more or less dormant until David Skinner recently identified the text as being by none other than Henry VIII s sixth and last queen Katherine Parr. The words are from her psalm paraphrase Against Enemies in her first publication Psalms or Prayers, published in London in 1544. Parr s work was published in tandem with Thomas Cranmer s Litany, which was the first departure from the Roman rite in Henry s reign, though we have known very little of its actual liturgical use until now.

All was part of Henry s famous war effort against the Scots and French in 1544; the English Litany was adopted so that the population might stand up and pray the King into battle and for the first time in English later that summer. Skinner has also discovered that the Litany, Parr s text (set to music by Tallis), alongside the composer s 5-part Litany (also now to be performed in the Festival) were first performed following an elaborately orchestrated series of events at St Paul s Cathedral, London, which culminated on 23 May 1544 with a procession and sermon. Queen Katherine Parr, via the Chapel Royal singers, acted as Henry VIII s mouthpiece with her evocative war-like text See, Lord, and behold , with sentiments such as they are traitors and rebels against me and let the wicked sinners return unto hell, and let them fall and be taken down into the pit which they have digged ! For the first time we can now suggest a specific date which marks the beginning of the English liturgical reformation 23 May 1544 at St Paul s Cathedral which quite predates the introduction of the First Book of Common Prayer in 1549.

These discoveries are not only significant for cultural historians, but also fundamentally challenge our perceptions of Tallis s music and chronology which have hitherto been fixed in their essentials for nearly half a century. We also have new insight into the role of a Tudor queen in Henry s court politics. The musical Reformation seems to have come to England somewhat earlier than anticipated. Many fascinating avenues for further research, both musicological and historical, have opened up for the years to come.

David Skinner


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10 February 2018
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