Sing and Glorify
Sing and Glorify is a contrafactum of Thomas Tallis' masterpiece Spem in Alium. At the time of its composition, Spem in Alium was without doubt the greatest musical achievement of its time and it is not surprising that it was decided to use the work, with new English words, for the corination of Prince Henry ("Harry") as prince of Wales in 1610. Following Harry's death (only two years later) the piece was again used at the Coronation of Prince Charles in 1616.
The earliest surviving manuscript of this great work, the Egerton manuscript, is laid out with the English words. In the manuscript Harry’s name is clearly written in each part – then crossed out and Charles’ name substituted. The English words are a new poem written as a syllable-for-syllable replacement fpr the original Latin. Evidently the authorities decided that musically Spem in Alium was fitting for such an impressive occasion as a coronation, but that the Latin words were too sombre.
The singers are grouped into eight choirs of five voices (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass) and were probably intended to stand in a horse-shoe shape. The piece begins with a single voice from the first choir and gradually the voices enter in imitation and the sound moves around the line from choir one to choir eight. During the fortieth breve, all forty voices enter simultaneously for a few bars, and then the process happens in reverse with the sound moving back from choir eight to choir one.
After another brief full section the choirs sing in pairs alternately throwing the sound across the space between them until finally all voices join for a full culmination to the work.
BL Edgerton 3512
Sing and glorify heaven’s high majesty,
NB In the 1616 version Henry is substitutes with Charles and Harry live is substituted with Charles live long
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