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Tomkins: Evening Canticles – Sixth Service

Tomkins: Evening Canticles – Sixth Service

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Choral leaflet

£2.95

ISBN: CP17

Two of Thomas Tomkins' verse services were printed in the monumental Musica Deo Dacra (1668) where they follow three full services and so are numbered 'Fourth' and 'Fifth'. A further two survive only in manuscripts and are now numbered Sixth and Seventh*. On stylistic grounds, and on the basis of their titles in the seventeenth-century manuscripts, the verse services were written in the order: Sixth, Seventh, Fourth and Fifth. In the early manuscripts the numbering is 'First' (Sixth), 'Second' (Seventh) and 'Third' (Fourth); the Fifth Service, found in Musica Deo Sacra only, demonstrates later stylistic elements.

The editor considers the Sixth Service to be an early work, dating probably from the 1590s, for the following reasons: (i) the verses are for upper voices only, a characteristic feature of early verse compositions; (ii) the use of false relations reflects the late-Elizabethan idiom; (iii) two distinct versions of the organ part survive, the earlier one doubling the meane (but not the countertenor) in the verse sections but the later one generally adding a counterpoint above, as was Tomkins' normal practice. The later (Tenbury) version has been preferred for this edition as being more attractive musically and representing the composer's maturer second thoughts.

Despite its early date, the Service resembles Tomkins' other verse services in the scoring of its verse sections and the allotting of the text to soloists and chorus. It also demonstrates that, as a recent pupil of William Byrd, his 'much reverenced Master', his musical technique was already well established in the 1590s.

The second 'meane' part in the verse sections and the first alto part (verse and chorus sections) have not survived and are reconstructed by reference, in particular, to the earlier (Durham) organ part referred to above.