Faithfulness in a Time of Trouble

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Byrd. English church music owes an immense debt to his accomplishments, as he composed a large and creative repertoire of music for Anglican worship in the 1560s and 1570s. His settings of verse anthems—a major innovation in Anglican worship in which solo voices alternate with full choir, with continuous organ accompaniment—shaped the development of this liturgical form well into the eighteenth century. His dozens of unaccompanied English-language anthems continue to be sung by Anglican choirs. His “Great Service”—a magnificent ten-voice setting of the Creed, Kyrie, and canticles sung at Morning and Evening Prayer—has been hailed as the “jewel in the crown” of Anglican music, despite the fact that it was virtually unknown until its rediscovery in manuscripts at Durham Cathedral in 1922.

But there is a shadow hovering over Byrd’s contribution to the treasury of Anglican music. Peter Phillips has mused that “Byrd holds a uniquely important position in the history of English sacred music, and yet we may suppose from his ardent Catholicism that he disapproved of the existence of the Church for which this music was intended.”

Byrd & Elizabeth

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on Music from the online archives

33.3—May/June 2020

Consolation in Death

Bach's Cantata BWV 106, Gottes Zeit ist die allerbesteZeit (God's time is the very best time) by Ken Myers


more from the online archives

34.1—January/February 2021

Fighting for Love

What the World Needs Now It Hardly Knows by Anthony Esolen

6.1—Winter 1993

Civilization Without Religion?

by Russell Kirk

35.4—Jul/Aug 2022

The Death Rattle of a Tradition

Contemporary Catholic Thinking on the Question of War by Andrew Latham

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00