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Title:“I wyl poure out the wordes of sorrowe”: politics in the Protestant and Catholic settings of Psalms 51 and 79 during the English Reformation
Author(s):McCumber, Janet M
Director of Research:Macklin, Christopher
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Macklin, Christopher
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Megill, Andrew; Wagstaff, John; Tipei, Sever
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Metrical psalter
William Byrd
Girolamo Savonarola
Psalm motet
William Mundy
William Hunnis
Abstract:The music of the Tudor era in England reflected the period’s political instability. This instability had its roots in, among other things, the religious movement known as the Reformation. Protestant and Catholic factions relied upon biblical texts, sermons, tracts and other circulating works to spread their propaganda, with musical settings of the Psalms also finding a part in this dissemination. Beginning in the reign of Edward VI, the metrical psalters of the Anglican Church functioned as personal devotional instruments aimed at laity possessing limited musical and academic training. They provided, in their simple tunes and metricized texts, an easy means of memorizing the Psalms. Latin motets, on the other hand, especially those circulating in copied manuscript collections in the latter half of the sixteenth century, reflected the political situation of English Catholics who were legally unable to worship openly by incorporating such texts as Psalm 50 [51] (Miserere mei, Deus) and Psalm 78 [79] (Deus, venerunt gentes) into laments of persecution. These motet collections may have served dual roles as repositories for the music of esteemed English composers and methods of reeducating and supporting underground communities of Catholics. This study examines Psalm 50 [51] and 78 [79] settings by Protestant and Catholic composers in Tudor England and the circumstances surrounding the implementation of political indoctrination associated with these settings. Included in the discussion are excerpts from the metrical psalters, including those of Miles Coverdale (1488-1569) and Sternhold and Hopkins (1549-end of century). Psalm motets by William Byrd (1540-1623) and his setting of Infelix ego, the prison meditation on Psalm 50 [51] by 15th-century Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola are also explored. Along with the Byrd motet, English settings of the same text by William Hunnis (d. 1597) and William Mundy (1529-1591) are shown as examples of Savonarola’s influence on both Catholic and Protestant English Reformation thought. In considering the metrical psalters and Latin motets of the Tudor period as religious educational propaganda, this project offers a fresh look at sacred music in the time of the Tudors and its role in the socio-political environment of 16th-century England, with implications for historians as well as choral conductors. Through the information given here, the study aims to provide conductors with impetus for new ideas regarding performance of these motets and anthems while also delivering a unique historical perspective on the political role of sacred music in Tudor England.
Issue Date:2017-04-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Janet McCumber
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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