Byrd’s Ne Irascaris Domine – Be Not Angry, O Lord, Forever

    For our Sunday musical offering this week, we present William Byrd’s sublime setting of the Lenten motet Ne Irascaris Domine, in four parts, first published in 1589. The text is taken from Isaiah 64:10, lamenting the desolation of Jerusalem after the exile, a allegory of the state of the soul – and the state – when sin is regnant, and the grace of God has fled. The people beg God to have mercy, to forgive, and to bring His people back to their homeland. This was part of Byrd’s Liber Sacrarum Cantionum, a collection of his sacred songs, written during, and about, a time of persecution of the Church by the ascendant revolutionary ‘Protestants’ under the Tudors, who would soon crush the Faith out of once-merrie England – almost, for the Church can never be destroyed, and God always does forgive, and return with His favour, if we but open our souls, like the Samaritan woman, to His grace.