Two packages arrived on Monday: one containing a fine used copy of of Margaret Aston's The King's Bedpost: Reformation and Iconography in a Tudor Group Portrait and the other a newly released CD from Stile Antico, In a Strange Land: Elizabethan Composers in Exile.
I've listened to the CD twice and am still reading the book.
I'm familiar with the stories of most of the composers on the CD (Dowland, Byrd, Dering, Philips, White, and De Monte) and have CDs with some of the same works (Byrd's "Tristitia et anxietas" and his "Quomodo cantabimus", written in response to Philippe de Monte's "Super flumina Babylonis"; Robert White's "Lamentations a 5", etc).
Richard Dering's "Factum est silentium" was an exciting and exuberant discovery:
Factum est silentium in caelo,
Dum committeret bellum draco cum Michaele Archangelo.
Audita est vox millia millium dicentium:
Salus, honor et virtus omnipotenti Deo.
Millia millium minestrabant ei et decies centena millia assistebant ei.
When the dragon fought with the Archangel Michael.
The voice of a thousand thousand was heard saying:
Salvation, honour and power be to almighty God.
A thousand thousand ministered to him and ten hundreds of thousands stood before him.
Here it is sung by the Choir of Clare College! As another record label, Hyperion, describes Dering and this work, which is the Antiphon for the Benedictus canticle during the Lauds of Michaelmas:
The new work on the CD, a setting of Shakespeare's poem, "The Phoenix and The Turtle", underwhelmed me. The words were lost in the music of Huw Watkins. The liner notes explain that he "portrays the busy hustle and bustle of funeral preparations, before a slower sublime setting of the concluding threnody." "Busy hustle and bustle of funeral preparations"? I don't hear that in the poem's opening:
More on Aston's study of the meaning and date of "King Edward VI and the Pope" which is in the National Portrait Gallery in London after I've finished reading the book.