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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 as shown in the manuscript. Display in modern form.
The first column gives the modern numbering of the pieces; the second shows numbering used by the copyist(s).

1 1 Robert Whyte Heth. Peccatum peccavit
2 2 Mr Robert White Miserere mei Deus
3 3 [Robert] White Precamur sancte Domine [= Christe qui lux es, I]
4 4 Mr Robert Whyte Precamur sancte domine [= Christe qui lux es, II]
5 5 Mr Robert Whyte Precamur sancte domine [= Christe qui lux es, III]
6 6 Mr Robert White Manus tuae fecerunt me
7 7 Mr Robert White Portio mea domine
8 8 Mr Robert White Iustus es domine
9 9 Mr Wm. Birde Ne irascaris domine
10 10 Mr Wm. Birde O Domine adiuva me
11 11 Mr Wm. Byrde Tribulationes civitatum
12 12 Mr Wm Birde Domine exaudi orationem meam
13 13 Wm Birde Domine praestolamur
14 14 Doctor [Christopher] Tie Ad te clamamus
15 15 Doctor [Christopher] Tie Omnes gentes plaudite
16 16 [John] Shepard Esurientes [from Magnificat a6]
17 17 Orlando de lassus Angelus ad pastores ait
18 18 Orlando [de Lassus] Veni in hortum meum
19 19 [Thomas] Tallis O salutaris hostia
20 20 Thomas Tallis Salvator mundi [I]
21 21 Mr Thomas Tallis [Candidi] Facti sunt Nazaraei
22 22 Mr [Robert] Johnson (i) ['Tallis alias Johnson' in 987] [Dum transisset] Sabatum
23 23 Mr Robert White Exaudiat te dominus
24 24 Alfonso ferabosco (i) Tribulationem et dolorem
25 25 Nicholas Strogers Non me vincat
26 26 Mr John Tavernor Dum transisset Sabatum [I]
27 27 Mr Wm Byrde Tribulatio proxima est
28 28 Mr Robert White Appropinquet deprecatio mea
29 29 Mr [John] Tayler Christus resurgens
30 30 Mr Wm Byrde O quam gloriosum
31 31 Mr Wm Birde Tristitia et anxietas
32 32 Mr Wm Birde Apparebit in finem
33 33 Mr Wm Birde Audivi vocem de coelo
34 34 Mr Wm Birde In resurrectione tua
35 35 Mr Robert Parsons Retribue servo tuo
36 36 William Birde Fac cum servo tuo
37 37 Mr W[illia]m Mundaie Sive vigilem
38 38 Mr Robert White Precamur sancte Domine [= Christe qui lux es, IV]
39 39 Mr Wm Birde Deus venerunt gentes [parts I and II only]
40 40 Mr Wm Birde Domine tu iurasti
41 41 Mr Wm Birde Exurge quare obdormis
42 42 Thomas Tallisius O sacrum convivium
43 43 Magister Thomas Tallis Salvator mundi [II]
44 44 Mr Wm Birde Effuderunt [part III of no. 39 above]
45 45 Mr Wm Byrde Precamur [= Christe qui lux es]
46 46 [William] Bird Laetentur caeli
47 47 Mr Wm Birde Facti sumus [part IV of no. 39 above]
48 48 Robert Parsons Ave Maria
49 49 ['Roose'] Dum transisset Sabatum
50 50 [EECM suppl. vol. 2, anon. no. 72] Decantabat populus in Israel
51 51 Alfonso Ferabosco (i) Mirabile mysterum
52 52 William Bird Miserere mei Deus
53 53 Mr Ro[bert] parsons O bone iesu
54 54/55 mr nathaniell giles Vestigia mea dirige
55 55/56 [Robert] White Lorde who shall dwell in thy tabernacle
56 56/57 Mr Robert White The lorde blesse us
57 57/58 Mr Wm Byrde O Lorde make thy servant Elizabeth
58 58/59 [William] byrd Prevent us o Lorde
59 59/60 Mr Wm Birde Howe long shall myne enemies
60 60/61 [William Byrd] Oh that most rare brest [part I]
61 62 [William Byrd] for thee both kings [part II of no. 60 above]
62 63 [William Byrd] The dolefull debt [part III of no. 60 above]
63 62/64 Mr Wm Birde Come to me greef for ever
64 63/65 Mr Wm Birde In fields abrode
65 64/66 Mr Wm Birde Where fancie fond
66 65/67 Mr Wm Birde Susanna faire
67 66/68 Mr Wm Byrde While Phebus usde to dwell
68 67/69 Mr Wm Byrde Why do I use my paper
69 68 [William] Birde La verginella
70 69 Wm. Birde I joy not in no earthlie blisse
71 70 Mr Wm Birde Ah golden heares
72 71 Mr Wm Birde Lorde in thy wrath
73 72 Mr Wm Birde Care for thy sowle
74 73 William Birde Browning
75 74/75 [Clement] Woodcock Browning
76 75/76 Mallorie Miserere
77 76/77 Doctor Tie [recte Jean Maillard] Ascendo [ad Patrem]
78 77/78 D. [Chistopher] Tie Rubum quem
79 78/79 Orlando [de Lassus] Susann'un jour
80 79/80 D. Tye [recte Giacomo Fogliano] Madona [somm'accorto]
81 80/81 Phillips [van Wilder] Pour vous amour
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 Parsons [recte Philippe van Wilder] Je fili [recte 'Je fille quand Dieu']
85 84/85 Mr Rob[ert] Parsons In nomine [a5]
86 85/86 Mr William Byrde In nomine [V a5]
87 86/87 Mr Nicholas Strogers In nomine [I a5]
88 87/88 Mr 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 Mr Robert White In nomine [a5]
92 91/92 Master Doctor [Christopher] Tie In nomine [a5, 'Follow me']
93 92/93 [Clement] Woodcock In nomine [I a5]
94 93/94 Mr Wm Birde If that a sinners sighes
95 94/95 Mr Wm Birde If wemen could be faire
96 95/96 Mr Wm Birde Prostrate o Lorde
97 96/97 Mr Wm Birde Even from the depth unto the Lorde
98 97/8 Mr Wm Birde When I was otherwise then now I am
99 98/99 Mr Brusters [= 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 loke back [Mus. 986 only, inc. at end]
102 100/101   Come holy ghost/In nomine
103 101/102   O Lorde of whome I doe 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 lyve 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 Godds that guide [part II of no. 106 above]
110 108 Nicholas Strogers A dolefull deadly pang
111 109   My little sweet darling
112 110   Ah sellie poore Joas
113 111   In terrors trapt
114 112   The saint I serve
115 113   Howe can the tree but wast
116 114   Alas alack my hart is woe
117 115 [William Byrd] Lulla lullaby my sweet litle baby [refrain]
118 116 [William Byrd] Be still my blessed babe [verse of no. 117 above]
119 117 Mr [William] birde upon Sir Philip Sidneis dittie Oh Lorde howe vaine
120 118 Mr [William] Birde My mynde to me
121 119 Mr W[illia]m bird Who likes to love
122 120 Mr Robert Parsons Enforced by love
123 121   Mistrust not troth
124 122   The daie delaied
125 123   Come tread the paths [part I]
126 124   Farewell my Lords [part II of no. 125 above]
127 125 Mr [William] birde Triumph with pleasant melodie [part I]
128 126 Mr [William] birde What unacqueinted cheerful voice [part II of no. 127 above]
129 127 Mr [William] birde My faltes o Christ [part III of no. 127 above]
130 128 [William] Birde Blessed is he that feares the Lorde
131 129 Mr Wm Birde Blame I confes
132 130 Mr Wm Birde Oh lorde within thy tabernacle
133 131 Mr Wm Bird How shall a yongman
134 132 Mr Wm Bird Though Amarillis daunce in grene
135 133 Francesco Mocheni [recte Vincenzo Ruffo] la gan ba [Mus. 984-6 only]
136 133 Francesco Mocheni [recte Vincenzo Ruffo] Trinitas in unitate [Mus. 987 only]
137 133   Hei down sing ye nowe aftr 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