William Byrd – Mass for Four Voices SATB
per 10 copies
24 pages. Also available for ATTB.
Click here to view a sample of this piece.
Byrd’s three settings of the Mass are among his most popular works today. When they were published in the 1590s, celebrating the Roman Catholic Mass had been illegal in England for several decades and so they were almost certainly intended for clandestine services held in England’s aristocratic Roman Catholic households, though Byrd may also have hoped for some commercial interest in the works from continental musicians (Byrd sets the Kyrie and the complete Credo within each Mass cycle, breaking with earlier English Mass compositional tradition). Despite the likely pared-down performance circumstances, Byrd’s demands on each voice part are uncompromising with each part encompassing a wide vocal range and plenty of virtuosity. The setting for four voices includes some of the cycle’s most expressive music and the impassioned setting of dona nobis pacem can be seen as a plea for peace and tolerance in an age of religious volatility and violence between Protestants and Catholics.
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