William Byrd, one of the great English composers of the Renaissance, wrote sacred music throughout his life. His personal religious commitments were complicated. He seems to have been an Anglican as a young man, but at some point he became a Catholic–a change that created political problems for the leading composer of England’s royal court. Later in life, he retired from the court to live in a Catholic enclave in the English countryside. This hymn to Mary, “Queen of Heaven,” is a work from that late period. Instead of the grand churches for which he had written earlier in his life, Byrd composed this music for worship services in a private home. It is intimate in its scale and in its spiritual focus.
Click the image for a link to the recording.
Performed by Chanticleer (7 minutes)