Thomas Tomkins' verse anthem Out of the deep is found in a number of early seventeenth-century sources, an indication that it was popular in Tomkins' day. It was also included in his posthumous printed collection Musica Deo Sacra (1668) where the chorus writing, reduced from five to four parts, is clearly adapted from the manuscript version.
The choice of a solo boy for the bulk of the verse material is unexpected. Since word-painting was an important source of inspiration for early seventeenth century English composers, the opening words of the well-known psalm would normally have evoked the lower-pitched voice of an adult soloist; Tomkins' introductory bars for the organ suggest as much. In their verse settings Nathaniel Giles chose a bass and Thomas Morley a countertenor while Adrian Batten opted for a tenor in one anthem and countertenor, tenor and bass in another. The tessitura of Tomkins' main solo part gives rise to the distinctive subtitle 'for a high meane' in one organ source, an indication that its range lies mid-way between the standard 'meane' and the high 'treble' voice.Tomkins makes musical reference in bars 42-57 (most precisely in bars 46-48) to Orlando Gibbons' well-known 'madrigal' The silver swan - the phrase Gibbons set to the words 'More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise'. Such 'homage' was by no means uncommon amongst composers of the period.
This edition marks the first appearance in print of the manuscript version of Tomkins' verse anthem Out of the deep.