The life of Thomas Tallis is a mirror of the musical effects of the Anglican Reformation in England. He served in the Chapel Royal for some 40 years, composing under four Monarchs with widely differing religious practices. Tallis was among the first to set English words to music for the rites of the Church of England, although most of his vocal music was written in Latin. A composer of great contrapuntal skill, his works show intense expressivity and are cast in a bewildering variety of styles.
During the reign of King Edward VI (1547-1553) it was mandated that the services be sung in English, and that the choral music be brief and succinct "to each syllable a plain and distinct note." If Ye Love Me is the classic example of these new English anthems: mainly homophonic, but with brief moments of imitation. Like many early Anglican anthems, it is cast in ABB form, the second section repeated twice.
© Ryan Turner