Christ Church Library
Music catalogue
IntroductionNewsBrowseSearch Quick search:

Mus. 984-8

Manuscript. Complete set of five partbooks containing motets, anthems, consort music and consort songs, copied principally by Robert Dow (1553-88), fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, with later additions by John Baldwin and an unidentified copyist; English, c. 1581-88 (Dow), and later. This set is one of the most important surviving music manuscripts from Elizabethan England, and a major source of works by William Byrd. It is also famous for Dow's exquisite penmanship, executed in black ink over staves previously printed in red. (An image Mus. 988, opened at the bass voice-part for no. 20, Thomas Tallis's 'Salvator mundi [I]', can be viewed here.) For a detailed discussion of the history and codicological structure of these partbooks, together with a biography of Robert Dow, see the article by David Mateer listed in the Bibliography below. For a discussion of the printed music paper on which Dow copied the music, see the article by Fenlon & Milsom. For transcriptions, translations and discussion of Dow's verbal Latin commentaries, written into the partbooks largely at the ends of individual pieces, see Boyd. For information about the consort songs (items 102-126 in the inventory below, excluding the pieces by Byrd), see the edition by Philip Brett (listed in Bibliography below).

The volumes are unfoliated. Dow himself numbered items 1-52. Baldwin numbered items 53-4 (also adding '55' in error in Mus. 984-5). The remaining contents were left unnumbered until the 19th century. Various later hands (including that of Havergal) continued the numbering system, in sequences that do not always agree with one another. (In particular, Baldwin's '55' caused confusion; and there is some uncertainty about how to number secunda and tertia partes of multi-section pieces.) In the inventory below, column 1 shows a rational numbering system, which sometimes differs from the numbers actually written into the volumes themselves (shown in column 2), and from Mateer's system (which is not reproduced here). Dow's form of representing a composer's name often varies from partbook to partbook; the version shown in column 3 (when displayed in the form of the MSS) reproduces his fullest and/or most modern variant. Titles of works (when displayed in the form of the MSS) are derived from incipits as they appear in Mus. 984, except (1) in pieces where the opening text-phrase is sung only by other voices, in which case the highest-sounding participating voice is followed; and (2) for consort songs, where the incipit follows that of the 'singing part'. The following pieces were not copied by Dow:

  • nos. 53-4: copied by John Baldwin.
  • nos. 99-100: copyist unidentified.

Table of titles and composers in modern form. Display form found in manuscript.
The first column gives the modern numbering of the pieces; the second shows numbering used by the copyist(s).

1 1 Robert White [Lamentations.] Heth. Peccatum peccavit
2 2 Robert White Miserere mei Deus
3 3 Robert White [Christe qui lux es, I] Precamur sancte Domine
4 4 Robert White [Christe qui lux es, II] Precamur sancte Domine
5 5 Robert White [Christe qui lux es, III] Precamur sancte Domine
6 6 Robert White Manus tuae fecerunt me
7 7 Robert White Portio mea, Domine
8 8 Robert White Iustus es, Domine
9 9 William Byrd Ne irascaris, Domine
10 10 William Byrd O Domine, adiuva me
11 11 William Byrd Tribulationes civitatum
12 12 William Byrd Domine, exaudi orationem meam
13 13 William Byrd Domine, praestolamur
14 14 Christopher Tye Ad te clamamus
15 15 Christopher Tye Omnes gentes plaudite
16 16 John Sheppard [Magnificat a6] Esurientes
17 17 Orlande de Lassus Angelus ad pastores ait
18 18 Orlande de Lassus Veni in hortum meum
19 19 Thomas Tallis O salutaris hostia
20 20 Thomas Tallis Salvator mundi [I]
21 21 Thomas Tallis [Candidi] facti sunt Nazarei
22 22 Robert Johnson (i) [Dum transisset] sabbatum
23 23 Robert White Exaudiat te, Dominus
24 24 Alfonso Ferrabosco (i) Tribulationem et dolorem
25 25 Nicholas Strogers Non me vincat
26 26 John Taverner Dum transisset sabbatum [I]
27 27 William Byrd Tribulatio proxima est
28 28 Robert White Appropinquet deprecatio mea
29 29 John Tailer Christus resurgens
30 30 William Byrd O quam gloriosum
31 31 William Byrd Tristitia et anxietas
32 32 William Byrd Apparebit in finem
33 33 William Byrd Audivi vocem de caelo
34 34 William Byrd In resurrectione tua
35 35 Robert Parsons Retribue servo tuo
36 36 William Byrd Fac cum servo tuo
37 37 William Mundy Sive vigilem
38 38 Robert White [Christe qui lux es, IV] Precamur sancte Domine
39 39 William Byrd Deus, venerunt gentes (parts I and II only)
40 40 William Byrd Domine, tu iurasti
41 41 William Byrd Exsurge, quare obdormis
42 42 Thomas Tallis O sacrum convivium
43 43 Thomas Tallis Salvator mundi [II]
44 44 William Byrd Deus venerunt gentes (part III only: Effuderunt)
45 45 William Byrd [Christe qui lux es] Precamur
46 46 William Byrd Laetentur caeli
47 47 William Byrd Deus venerunt gentes (part IV only: Facti sumus)
48 48 Robert Parsons Ave Maria
49 49 'Roose' Dum transisset sabbatum
50 50 (EECM suppl. vol. 2, anon. no. 72) Decantabat populus in Israel
51 51 Alfonso Ferrabosco (i) Mirabile mysterium
52 52 William Byrd Miserere mei, Deus
53 53 Robert Parsons O bone Jesu
54 54/55 Nathaniel Giles Vestigia mea dirige
55 55/56 Robert White Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle
56 56/57 Robert White The Lord bless us
57 57/58 William Byrd O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth
58 58/59 William Byrd Prevent us, O Lord
59 59/60 William Byrd How long shall mine enemies
60 60/61 William Byrd O that most rare breast (part I)
61 62 William Byrd For thee both kings (part II of no. 60 above)
62 63 William Byrd The doleful debt (part III of no. 60 above)
63 62/64 William Byrd Come to me, grief, for ever
64 63/65 William Byrd In fields abroad
65 64/66 William Byrd Where fancy fond
66 65/67 William Byrd Susanna fair
67 66/68 William Byrd While Phoebus used to dwell
68 67/69 William Byrd Why do I use my paper
69 68 William Byrd La virginella
70 69 William Byrd I joy not in no earthly bliss
71 70 William Byrd Ah, golden hairs
72 71 William Byrd Lord, in thy wrath
73 72 William Byrd Care for thy soul
74 73 William Byrd Browning
75 74/75 Clement Woodcock Browning
76 75/76 Mallorie Miserere
77 76/77 Jean Maillard Ascendo ad Patrem
78 77/78 Christopher Tye Rubem quem
79 78/79 Orlande de Lassus Susann'un jour
80 79/80 [Giacomo Fogliano] Madonna somm'accorto
81 80/81 Philippe van Wilder Pour vous aymer
82 81/82 Robert Parsons De la court (part I)
83 82/83 Robert Parsons De la court (part II of no. 82 above)
84 83/84 Philippe van Wilder Je fille quand Dieu
85 84/85 Robert Parsons In nomine [a5]
86 85/86 William Byrd In nomine [V a5]
87 86/87 Nicholas Strogers In nomine [I a5]
88 87/88 Nicholas Strogers In nomine [III a5]
89 88/89 Nicholas Strogers In nomine [II a5]
90 89/90 John Bull In nomine [a5]
91 90/91 Robert White In nomine [a5]
92 91/92 Christopher Tye In nomine [a5, 'Follow me']
93 92/93 Clement Woodcock In nomine [I a5]
94 93/94 William Byrd If that a sinner's sighs
95 94/95 William Byrd If women could be fair
96 95/96 William Byrd Prostrate, O Lord
97 96/97 William Byrd Even from the depth unto the Lord
98 97/8 William Byrd When I was otherwise than now I am
99 98/99 Brewster In nomine [I a4, with spurious added part]
100 99/100   O God, wherefore art thou absent (le Huray/Daniel anon. anthem no.268)
101 99b Robert Parsons When I look back (Mus. 986 only, inc. at end)
102 100/101   Come, Holy Ghost/In nomine
103 101/102   O Lord of whom I do depend/In nomine
104 102   O Lord, turn not away thy face/In nomine
105 103   When May is in his prime (part I)
106 104   May makes the cheerful hive (part II of no. 103 above)
107 105   All ye that live on earth (part III of no. 103 above)
108 106 Richard Farrant Ah, alas, you salt sea gods (part I)
109 107 Richard Farrant You gods that guide (part II of no. 106 above)
110 108 Nicholas Strogers A doleful deadly pang
111 109   My little sweet darling
112 110   Ah, silly poor Joas
113 111   In terrors trapp'd
114 112   The saint I serve
115 113   How can the tree but waste
116 114   Alas, alack, my heart is woe
117 115 William Byrd Lulla, lullaby, my sweet little baby (refrain)
118 116 William Byrd Be still, my blessed babe (verse of no. 117 above)
119 117 William Byrd O Lord, how vain
120 118 William Byrd My mind to me
121 119 William Byrd Who likes to love
122 120 Robert Parsons Enforced by love
123 121   Mistrust not truth
124 122   The day delayed
125 123   Come tread the paths (part I)
126 124   Farewell, my lords (part II of no. 125 above)
127 125 William Byrd Triumph with pleasant melody (part 1)
128 126 William Byrd What unacquainted cheerful voice (part II of no. 127 above)
129 127 William Byrd My faults, O Christ (part III of no. 127 above)
130 128 William Byrd Blessed is he that fears the Lord
131 129 William Byrd Blame I confess
132 130 William Byrd O Lord, within thy tabernacle
133 131 William Byrd How shall a young man
134 132 William Byrd Though Amaryllis dance in green
135 133 Vincenzo Ruffo La gamba (Mus. 984-6 only)
136 133 Vincenzo Ruffo Trinitas in unitate (Mus. 987 only)
137 133   Hey down, sing ye now after me (Mus. 988 only)

Oblong format, c. 200 x 150 mm. The music has been copied on sheets previously printed with red staves, of a type issued by Tallis and Byrd under the conditions of their 1575 royal patent; for details, see Fenlon & Milsom. Collation and watermarks: see Mateer. All five partbooks contain some pages of unused ruled staves; no attempt is made here to list them, on account of the absence of a foliation system. For information about the order in which the contents were entered into the partbooks, see Mateer. Late 16th-century covers of brown leather over boards. Upper and lower covers: gold-tooled with fillets, enclosing a central ornamental panel flanked by the initials 'G. T.' (= Giles Thomson; see Mateer, and section on Provenance below). (An image of the upper cover of Mus. 987 can be viewed here.) Gilt edges. Stubs of black ribbon ties at the upper, lower and fore edges. Spines gold-tooled with fillets, and (at the head) abbreviated voice-designations: 'S/M/C/T/B'. Bookplate 2. An index of contents by Havergal (arranged alphabetically by composer) is pasted into the front of Mus. 984. 19th-century shelfmarks: F.1.23-7. All five volumes appear to have been lightly repaired and partially rebacked, probably in the early 20th century.

Provenance: according to Mateer's researches, at Dow's death the partbooks passed to Giles Thomson, a former colleague of Dow's at All Souls, and later Dean of St George's Chapel, Windsor; he died in 1612. The Windsor connection helps explain the additions made to the partbooks by John Baldwin (d. 1615), who was a singing-man at St George's Chapel. From Thomson, the books appear passed to Gregory Baker (d. 1637), then to his son Giles Baker (d. c. 1661). The next trace of the set is as part of the Aldrich bequest, where it is listed in Dowding at position N.2.4 as 'Latin Psalms / By Tallis &c MS. 5 voc. 1581'. Possibly the set was acquired by Aldrich together with Mus. 979-83, copied wholly by John Baldwin, which is also of Windsor provenance.

Microfilm: manuscript music, reel 33.

Select bibliography:

  • Morrison Comegys Boyd, Elizabethan Music and Musical Criticism (Philadelphia, 2/1962). Find in a Library
  • Consort Songs, ed. Philip Brett, Musica Britannica XXII (London, 1967). Find in a Library
  • Iain Fenlon and John Milsom, '"Ruled Paper Imprinted": Music Paper and Patents in Sixteenth-Century England', Journal of the American Musicological Society, 37 (1984), 139-63. Find in a Library
  • David Mateer, 'Oxford, Christ Church Music MSS 984-8: An Index and Commentary', [Royal Musical Association] Research Chronicle, 20 (1986-7), 1-18. Find in a Library
  • John Milsom, 'Sacred Songs in the Chamber', in English Choral Practice, 1400-1650, ed. John Morehen (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 165-6. Find in a Library