Not exactly “Gather Us In”

At Catholic Education Resource Center I stumbled on a video of the great Tallis Scholars singing William Byrd, a Catholic composer who somehow survived and thrived during the reign of Elizabeth I.

However, the article I found lead me back to something from Regina Magazine, which now has an ad on my right sidebar.  Check it out.

Here is the video, for your edification today.  Not exactly “Gather Us In” or “Joy Is Like The Rain”.

And, animi caussa, though it isn’t William Byrd, here is the video of a live performance by the Tallis Scholars in 1994 during the 400th anniversary of Palestrina’s death of Allegri’s Miserere in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, where Palestrina was maestro di cappella.  I was there.

Note the placement of different groups of singers in the Basilica.  When the treble floated out of the Borghese Chapel…. well….



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  1. … well… yes, well….
    beyond sublime.
    On this subject, I hope the gentle readership resident near Washington DC is aware of the upcoming informal performance of Tallis’s extraordinary 40-part (yes, forty part) “Spem in Alium.” It’s scheduled for Saturday, February 22. More info here

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    The Tallis Scholars have two recordings of Allegri’s Miserere. Allegri: Miserere / Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli, has been reported to have better sound than the original recording the group did in 1996, which has Amazon ASIN B000001I5C.

  3. danhorse says:

    Thanks for providing me with this heavenly ‘Beauty Break’.

  4. Jim R says:

    Our Cathedral choir has made leaps and bounds in the music offerings made weekly. The Rector has an outstanding voice with wonderful taste. (The Bishop is a very nice man with many good qualities, but is tone deaf, can’t sin and has a preference for 1980s fare in liturgical music. A minor, if notable, penance in the general scheme I suppose.) Lent last year the choir performed the Allegri Miserere at Mass – which many of us feared would be beyond them. (Mea maxima culpa.) While not as sublime as your posting it was a credible effort….and so welcome.

    Thanks for the post.

  5. Jim R says:

    Make than “sing” not “sin” LOL

  6. RoyceReed says:

    I’ve been enjoying this version as of late: This reconstructed version with Baroque ornamentation seems much more volatile and expressive than what’s normally sung. It’s other-worldly…..

  7. Hank Igitur says:

    Interestingly Peter Phillips of the Tallis scholars says he sings sacred music for secular reasons not religious ones:,whats-the-value-of-sacred-music-in-a-secular-age.aspx

  8. (X)MCCLXIII says:

    I enjoy the Tallis Scholars’ work enormously, but (as implied by Hank’s link) Phillips is a confirmed sceptic, if not an atheist. That’s a great shame, of course.

  9. Andreas says:

    It is said that in 1770, the 12-year old Mozart was visiting the Sistine Chapel with his Father, Leopold, heard the Miserere of Allegri sung there, and shortly thereafter copied it completely from memory. In subsequent correspondence, Leopold wrote, “…You have often heard of the famous Miserere in Rome, which is so greatly prized that the performers are forbidden on pain of excommunication to take away a single part of it, copy it or to give it to anyone. But we have it already. Wolfgang has written it down and we would have sent it to Salzburg in this letter, if it were not necessary for us to be there to perform it. But the manner of performance contributes more to its effect than the composition itself. Moreover, as it is one of the secrets of Rome, we do not wish to let it fall into other hands….” (ref:

  10. Andreas says:

    My apologies; as Mozart was born in 1756, the story above would have taken place when he was 14…not 12 as originally noted.

  11. iPadre says:

    This is as it is meant to be. Sacred music should lift our minds and hearts so we are properly disposed to enter in the Sacrifice. So called “Worship” music can’t do this!

    On of my favorites is Peter Phillips & The Tallis Scholars, Palestrina’s music for the Assumption of Mary.

    Steve Jobs kept some Gregorian Chant on his iPod. Jobs was deeply moved and stated “You playing is the best argument I’ve ever heard for the existence of God, because I don’t really believe a human alone can do this.”

  12. RichR says:

    Our men’s Gregorian chant group sings Latin chants and sacred polyphony, and the response has been very positive these last 10 years we’ve been singing. People are always so surprised when they hear this type of music at Mass rather than on a CD or in a concert.

  13. jgalloy says:

    Wonderful music. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Hank Igitur says:

    Andreas is correct, Mozart was 14 at the time and hid some notes in his hat. He snuck back into the Sistine two days later to correct some fine details. Exactly how an MS found its way to London remains unclear. Stealing the Miserere was an excommunicable offence but the Pope waived this praising Mozart’s ingenuity. I believe the high C was not part of the original as performed in the Sistine. We have this piece every Maundy Thursday.

  15. Andreas says:

    Hank Igitur: One hypothesis is that during his travels in Europe, the historian and musicologist Charles Burney met with Mozart and learned of the young man’s partitur of the Allegri work. Some suggest that Burney may have absconded with the copy. However, there is some evidence that Burney actually received a copy from the Sistine Chapel’s Master of Music (Kapellmeister), Santarelli and, taking it back to London, printed the work in 1771. (Ref: Jahn, Otto (1882/2013). Life of Mozart, Vol. I of III., Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. See p. 120, footnote 37). Extracts from both the original and Cambridge University Press editions in English are available online via Google Books.

  16. It is my fervent prayer that this become more common all the time in in the Latin Church.

  17. An American Mother says:

    It’s thought that the text of this motet, from the time of persecution, was intended to send a message. Many of Mr. Byrd’s motets from this period have such a subtext – ‘thy holy city is laid waste’, ‘sadness and anxiety’, etc.

    A great program on Byrd and Tallis from Auntie Beeb can be viewed here.

    The problem with many of the motets is that they are on the long side for a Mass – many run four to six minutes, and without the silent prayers in the NO, there’s just no place to put them. That’s not a problem for me, I could listen (and sing) all day, but Father is worried about running over into the next Mass . . . ( sigh ). Fortunately “our Phoenix, M. Byrd” composed some brilliant short motets, and we sing as many as we can.

    By the way, I wouldn’t worry too much about the religious/philosophical leanings of the performers. They are only, in the final analysis, messengers – like Balaam’s Ass. Evangelicals worry about “unsanctified choristers” but Mr. Byrd (and the Lord) send the message regardless.

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