The extant material - tenor, organ and text -of Tomkins' verse anthem Death is swallowed up is sufficient to allow the reconstruction of this dramatic and distinctive work. Much of the verse writing is for two meanes (sopranos), as indicated by the index of the tenor part-book which assigns the verses to the 'Cantus' voice. This recalls the scoring, also for two meanes, of the verse sections of Byrd's seminal anthem Christ rising again, again based on a 'resurrection' text by St Paul. The high Abs and Dbs in the meane/tenor and alto chorus parts respectively are rare, but by no means unique, examples of such writing in Tomkins' liturgical music. The anthem is suitable, paradoxically, for both Eastertide and funeral occasions.
The final chorus draws on earlier material, notably the motif at the words 'which hath given us the victory'. Thomas Weelkes worked a comparable motif similarly in his anthem Alleluia, I heard a voice. Another example of such mutual 'homage' by these two composers can be seen in Tomkins' full anthem O sing unto the Lord and Weelkes' O Lord arise into Thy resting place.
This edition marks the first appearance of Death is swallowed up in print.
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