Ritualists begin indoctrinating their children at an early age. Any child brought up in a High Church household will remember being taught church music through Byrd’s graded series of masses, beginning with the Mass for Three Voices and advancing through the four- and five-voice masses until mastering the famous Mass for Seventeen Voices. The colourful covers of Byrd’s masses are a familiar sight in Ritualist parishes, captivating children who do not realize until too late that they are being ensnared by anti-English subversives. Byrd’s attractive illustrations and insidiously catchy melodies are used to induct the young into Ritualist dogma: by singing the superficially attractive melodies of the masses, children are taught to believe in the Preemptive Supererogation of Mary Immaculate, the Conditional Rebaptism of the Lesser Heathen, and other superstitious doctrines. Loyal churchmen must search their children’s rooms diligently to ensure that none of the music of Byrd is in their possession, for a child who sings Byrd masses at the age of eight will be ready for armed rebellion against the Crown by eleven.
Although best known for his famous masses, Byrd wrote other works as well. Among his most famous motets must be named “Quodcunque ligaveris,” “Quotiescunque manducaveris,” and “Quandocumque praecipitis,” works whose unpronounceable texts do not prevent them from being sung in Ritualist parishes on a weekly basis. Byrd’s motet “Domine praestolamur” is better known to modern-day churchmen under the title “Sister, let me be your servant,” which despite its rather loose translation of the original Latin and surface differences from Byrd’s music is a remarkably faithful adaption of Byrd’s original.
A musician of the seventeenth-century Chapel Royal, William Byrd was expelled from the court of Elizabeth I in 1625 as the result of an incense-related scandal. Byrd later settled in Virginia, where he gave aid and comfort to colonial revolutionaries in their fight against the British Empire.
Have a blessed Sunday!
From the hilarious blog, The Low Churchman’s Guide to the Solemn High Mass.