William Byrd

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Cantiones Sacrae

Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur
[Line-cut facsimile]

Taking advantage of their monopoly on printing music, in 1575 Thomas Tallis and William Byrd produced their grandiose Cantiones sacrae, the first collection of Latin sacred motets published in England. Dedicated to the Queen herself, it offers a retrospective selection of Tallis's own work alongside compositions from his most gifted pupil. One of the 15 works by Byrd is split into three separately numbered sections, and one of the 16 by Tallis into two, in order to bring the apparent total to 17 pieces by each composer, corresponding to the length of the Queen's reign.