I must now present you the piece promised in the last post. It is seriously worth the wait. You may be tempted to skip to the video and read past this but you must know the background of the piece. I promise you, this piece is worth the wait.

This piece is based on a tune by Thomas Tallis, a 16th century English composer. This tune appears in the 1567 Psalter for Archbishop Parker. A Psalter is like a hymnal but it contains versions of the Psalms of the Bible set to a meter so they can be sung to familiar tunes, and this one is based on Psalm 2:1-2:

Why fumeth in fight: the Gentils spite,
In fury raging stout?
Why taketh in hond: the people fond,
Vayne thinges to bring about?
The kinges arise: the lordes devise,
In counsayles mett thereto:
Agaynst the Lord: with false accord,
Against his Christ they go.

And if you’re wondering what that just said, here is the original text it is based on with modern spelling (you’re welcome):

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing? 
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed

This is the original tune it is sung to:

What makes this piece interesting is that it is a fantasia, meaning it’s improvisatory‎, or free form. It is not based on a strict form of music. You can’t tell what’s coming next.

Now that you know the background of the tune Vaughan Williams is using and what he does with it,  we can get to his piece, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (prepare yourself):

Enjoy as you sip a cup of tea. 🙂


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