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Queen Mary I, Tallis’s O sacrum convivium and a Latin Litany

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Magnus Williamson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


The Bassus part of two pieces, an anonymous Latin Litany and Thomas Tallis’s O sacrum convivium, was copied into a small fascicle bound into a copy of the Sarum Processional printed in Antwerp in 1545 (now in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris). Litany petitions for ‘pregnant Queen Mary’ were written into both this book and a second copy of the same 1545 Processional (now in Lambeth Palace), which has a petition for King Philip as well as the Medius part of the same polyphonic Litany. We can date the copying of these items to the joint reign of Mary Tudor and Philip II of Spain (25 July 1554–17 November 1558), and specifically to the period between November 1554 and the summer of 1555 when Mary was believed to be carrying a Catholic heir. The two books belonged to singers associated with Westminster Abbey, suggesting putative performance contexts for the Litany and motet, particularly in January 1555. Tallis’s motet must therefore have been composed a decade earlier than has previously been assumed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Williamson M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Early Music

Year: 2016

Volume: 44

Issue: 2

Pages: 251-270

Print publication date: 31/05/2016

Online publication date: 12/07/2016

Acceptance date: 20/05/2016

Date deposited: 09/08/2016

ISSN (print): 0306-1078

ISSN (electronic): 1741-7260

Publisher: Oxford Journals


DOI: 10.1093/em/caw045


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