Tallis’ Lamentations


    Fitting music for these days are the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as put to profound polyphony by the genius of Thomas Tallis (1505 – 1585), whose life spans what we call the ‘Reformation’, or the Protestant revolt against Catholicism, and the ‘Counter Reformation’, or the Catholic defense against this revolt on various levels, spiritual (Saint Philip Neri and countless other saints), doctrinal (the clear teaching of the Council of Trent) and cultural (the bolstering of the Liturgy, including the chants and polyphony, and other great works of sacred art and architecture).

    Through it all, Tallis lived a quiet life, following his Catholic Faith to the end, even in the midst of the tumult under King Henry, and his daughters Mary (Catholic) and Elizabeth (at first, sort of Catholic, but later Anglican and Puritan). Tallis wrote his music through it all, beautiful and profound, and it is a fitting testament to our own time of disruption, spiritual, societal and otherwise. His epitaph on his gravestone in Saint Alfege’s church in Greenwich reads: As he did live, so also did he die, In mild and quiet Sort (O! happy Man)

    We will have more of his music to post. But, for now, the Lamentations: