Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Archbishop Parker's Psalter, Bishop Ken and "Tallis' Evening Hymn"


Found while I was looking for something else --

An explanation of where one of my favorite obscure 19th-century English melodies came from … it's "Tallis' Evening Hymn," a highly ornamented version of the Tallis Canon that I first saw in a Primitive Baptist hymnal 15 or 20 years ago.

Excerpt eBooks version of

The Hymnal 1982 Companion, Volume 1 edited by Raymond F. Glover


in Ravenscroft - then Smith and Prellieur, Harmonious Companion (London, 1732), in G "and with a figured bass for good measure" -- first appears w/ Bishop Ken's text

… The early Methodists took up the tune, and with the canon forgotten, it evolved rather like a folk song, collecting ornamentation along the way, until in the early nineteenth century it was to be found in almost every tune book, while on the church barrel-organs it was second only to the OLD 100TH in popularity. It was no longer Tallis; but it could be a stately companion for Ken's matchless hymn, as for example in the small collection published by John Goss in 1827 for Chelsea Parish Church, London, where he was organist before his appointment to St. Paul's Cathedral …

In H82 the editors have sought to put the clock further back by introducing modal harmony with a selection of F naturals based on Tallis's. It will be interesting to learn whether congregations find this effective. (50)

cites N. Temperley, Musical Times, 112 (1971): 375-76. -- facsimile on p. 51

Tallis' canon is the eighth of nine psalm settings in Archbishop Parker's Psalter, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth's archbishop of Canterbury. An unadorned masterpiece of his Protestant period.

Here's the Byrd Ensemble, a West Coast professional early music troupe, singing Tallis' "Nine Psalm Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter" at Holy Rosary Church in Seattle, Wash., May 9, 2008. The eighth tune begins at 6:07.

The Byrd Ensemble sings Tallis - Tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter

And a BBC documentary on Thomas Tallis and other Tudor-era musicians I hope I'll have time for one day …

Sacred Music Series Episode 3: Byrd & Tallis: Singing the Lord's song in a strange land. Archbishop Matthew Parker's psalms at 18:25. The same collection serves as the basis of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Tallis.

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