Thomas Tomkins's substantial output of sacred music for the Anglican rite comprises sixty-two full anthems, fifty-six verse anthems and seven services together with several other small-scale works. Most of these were published in the monumental Musica Deo sacra (1668), a collection which was seen through the press by his son, Nathaniel. However, a number, which were not included in the 1668 collection, also deserve to take their place in the 'cathedral' repertoire. These include eight full anthems (the majority are actually 'sacred madrigals'), thirteen verse anthems and two verse services.
Composers in Elizabethan and Stuart times often set contemporary texts in their madrigals, consort songs and lute songs, but such texts occur less frequently in sacred music of the period. The majority of Tomkins's verse anthem texts are taken from the Bible, and he set just six from contemporary sources. His peers, Gibbons and Weelkes, drew more frequently on these while eight of Byrd's sixteen verse anthems are based on such texts.
A detailed organ part together with a contemporary text are all that survive of the My dwelling is above, but these are sufficient for a reconstruction of the work to be undertaken. The colourful 'aspirational' nature of the text, bringing to mind the composer's verse anthem Above the stars, gives rise to an imaginative setting. The repetition by the chorus of part of the final verse section, beginning at 'Blessed be our God', reflects this practice in several of Tomkins's verse anthems. The work's survival in sources not 'local' to Worcester, where Tomkins was Organist, indicates that it was probably performed more widely including at the Chapel Royal.
This edition marks the first appearance My dwelling is above in print.
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