0 Lord, rebuke me not seems not to have been well known in Byrd's day. However John Barnard considered it worthy of inclusion in his important publication The First Book of Selected Church Musick (1641) and it can also be found in his extensive manuscript collection of English liturgical music. It is a setting of verses from the penitential Psalm 6, and it achieves an appealing simplicity through the use of a solo 'meane' (ie a boy's voice of normal range - as compared with the high 'treble' voice) in the verse sections; it is subtitled 'A meane alone' in the 1641 publication.
The structure of the work is simple: each chorus section is a reworked and reharmonised version of the preceding verse section together with a concluding 'Amen'. Two other verse anthems by Byrd follow this unusual pattern while Gibbons employed the form in two of his verse anthems, notably the striking Glorious and powerful God. In recent years an organ source has come to light and its spare writing has been suitably amplified - in accordance with early seventeenth-century practice. The discrepancy between voice and organ parts at bar 56 (see Critical Commentary) suggests that there were two distinct versions of the music at this point; the organ reading has been followed with the authority, in all sources, of the analagous bar 64.
The anthem is scored for SATTB chorus rather than the more usual SAATB, but the first tenor part is to be found in three countertenor part-books (with tenor clef) - Barnard: Countertenor 2 (Decani and Cantoris) and MS 1046. This implies that the first tenor part could have been sung by altos/countertenors.
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