William Byrd

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In the 16th century humanistic world outlook, which is essential for the epoch of Renaissance, brought about the flourishing of the secular art in Great Britain. A lot of British composers, who were creating during that period, founded the school of British madrigalists. William Byrd (1543-1623) was among them. He is considered to be one of the most prominent figures of English musical Renaissance. He was a famous author of instrumental and vocal compositions, especially madrigals; even though, the role of sacred compositions was still preserved. One of the anthems written by Byrd is the anthem “Sing Joyfully” for six voices.

This anthem represents four verses from Psalm 81. This composition is very dynamic, vital and expressive. It asseverates the meaning of earthly existence, the meaning of people’s happiness on Earth, but at the same time it emphasizes the source of our life, the significant condition of our existence, and stresses we have to be grateful for this. However, the style does not need to be in a strict manner as it was in the Middle Ages. We have to “sing joyfully” and thank God. The two first voices, which are treble, two sopranos, at the very beginning of the anthem create the atmosphere of joy and quietness, but at the same time loftiness and grandeur. The rhythm of the composition is dapper, and that also influences the general mood of this piece of music. The end of the composition is like a conclusion that brings all voices together. They affirm the spirituality of earthly life due to the presence of God.

The work of William Byrd is closely connected with the general cultural and artistic context of that period. The same motive can be found not only in music, but also in visual kinds of art. For instance, a famous masterpiece of Titian “Sacred and Profane Love” stresses the beauty of creation and the perfection of the divine origin. That is why we have to examine this artistic product in its relations to the background of senses of that time. It was really a great reflection of the humanistic values in their connection with Christian morality.

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