25 Jun 2009

Thomas Tallis' psalms

This takes us back to England, of course, but I think it's worth drawing attention here to the beautiful melodies — nine in number — that Thomas Tallis composed for Archbishop Matthew Parker's Psalter. The most haunting of these is the third tune, commonly referred to as THIRD MODE MELODY (because it's in the phrygian or third mode), to which Psalm 2 is set. Twentieth-century composer Ralph Vaughan Williams famously used it as the basis for his own Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, a personal favourite of mine. PDF files of the music can be accessed at Free-scores.com.

These tunes can be heard below, as performed by the Renaissance Singers.

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