Polyhymnia John Bradley, Conductor


The Church of St. Ignatius of Antioch
552 West End Avenue New York
United States
Saturday, March 02, 2019

Open Thou our Lips

Music of the English Reformation

by Parsons, Sheppard, and Tye


Time:              8 pm

Pre-Concert Lecture at 7 pm by Dr. Lynette Bowring

Tickets:           $30 – General Admission

                        $20 – Students, Seniors & Early Music America (EMA) Members

For tickets and more information:


OR call 917-838-4636


In March 2019, Polyhymnia will perform music composed during the tumultuous years of the English Reformation. The Protestant Reformation in England began when Henry VIII wanted a divorce, continued with Edward VI and the first English Prayer Books, interrupted when Catholic Mary I ascended the throne, and was reestablished when Elizabeth I became Queen.

During those unsettled years, Tudor music underwent a dramatic change from the complex Latin polyphony of the Eton Choirbook, to the austere and simple music of the Edwardine chapel, and back to the elaborate and glorious Great Services of composers like Robert Parsons and John Sheppard. Parsons and Sheppard, who pioneered these new genres, steered English Protestant music away from the Calvinist austerity of King Edward VI’s reign and reestablished a national choral heritage that was nearly lost to the radical preferences of some of the reformers. These musical efforts, although new and forward thinking, never lose their “Englishness.”

The early efforts in this new church music, led by these composers of the English Chapel Royal, produced radical music for times of radical change as the English services of Matins and Evensong replaced the Latin Mass. Along with their contemporary Christopher Tye, Parsons and Sheppard reshaped and redefined music for the Anglican Rite that is still in use today. The centerpiece of this concert will include music from Robert Parsons's First Service and John Sheppard's Second Service, along with English Anthems from both Edward VI’s and Elizabeth I’s chapels.

Join Polyhymnia as they remember these pioneers of the English choral tradition.

About the Ensemble:

Founded in 1994, Polyhymnia creates vibrant, historically informed performances of music from the courts and cathedrals of the Renaissance world. Working with museums and libraries, liturgical historians and educational institutions, Polyhymnia preserves and revives masterworks of the choral literature composed in Europe and the Americas between the years 1450 and 1650. Since 2000, Artistic Director John Bradley has been preparing original editions of music for the ensemble in repertoire including numerous modern premiers of works which have remained unperformed since the 16th century.

Polyhymnia is supported, in part, by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Share This: