The esteemed vocal ensemble VOCES8 dropped this rendition of William Byrd’s “Laudibus in Sanctis” on January 1, 2022. The lyrics, in Latin, are paraphrased from Psalm 150, while the music is performed in the style of a madrigal.
William Byrd is often considered to be the greatest English composer of the Renaissance. While his early works were written for Anglican services, later in life Byrd converted to Catholicism and began to lean towards the Catholic liturgical style. While this was an unpopular decision in his day, Byrd’s prowess and popularity as a composer allowed him to avoid some of the social stigma associated with being Catholic in Tudor-era England.
This tune was written as a madrigal, a style in which each voice part sings its own melodic line. These interwoven melodies come together to make a song that is greater than its individual parts. Hyperion notes that at the time of its composition, in the late 16th century, this genre would have been considered novel or even revolutionary to English ears.
“Laudibus in Sanctis” is a song of praise to the Lord and was drawn from the final Psalm. Global Worship has the English translation of the Latin lyrics:
Celebrate the Lord most high in holy praises:
Let the firmament echo the glorious deeds of God.
Sing ye the glorious deeds of God, and with holy voice
Sound forth oft the power of his mighty hand.
Let the warlike trumpet sing the great name of the Lord:
Celebrate the Lord with Pierian lyre.
Let resounding timbrels ring to the praise of the most-high God,
Lofty organs peal to the praise of the holy God.
Him let melodious psalteries sing with fine string,
Him let joyful dance praise with nimble foot.
Let hollow cymbals pour forth divine praises,
Sweet-sounding cymbals filled with the praise of God.
Let everything in the world that feeds upon the air of heaven
Sing Alleluia to God for evermore.
Visit the USCCB to see how this hymn paraphrases from the biblical text.
Click here to listen to more brilliant sacred music from VOCES8.