Thomas Tomkins wrote no fewer than seven services: three full and four verse settings. Two of the verse services appear to be early works and survive, incomplete, only in manuscript sources while the remaining two were included in the composer's posthumous Musica Deo Sacra (1668) where they followed the three full services and so were numbered 'Fourth' and 'Fifth'. The Fourth Service comprises Te Deum laudamus and evening canticles (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis) and is described in the 'Batten' Organ Book as his 'Third' Verse Service; the two unpublished services were numbered in their sources as his 'First' and 'Second' verse services. Musica Deo Sacra is the only surviving source for the 'Fifth' Service.
In the evening canticles of the Fourth Service the opening motif was intended as a homage to Tomkins' 'ancient and much reverenced Master, William Byrd' since it is a quotation from the beginning of both movements of Byrd's 'Second' Verse Service. The motif is a variant of an old intonation of the Sarum liturgy with which Tomkins begins the Te Deum of the Fourth Service. The striking bass duet at the words 'He hath put down' recalls Gibbons' Second Service.
The Fourth Service is Tomkins' most extended verse service and is notable for the variety of the scoring and textures of its verse sections, ranging from a soloist to passages for five solo voices. The choruses are characterised by sequential development, a favourite device of Tomkins.
This is the first modern performing edition of both evening canticles to be published.