An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Tallis, Thomas

(c. 1505-1585). Musician and composer, often called the “father of English Church music.” Tallis was possibly born in Kent, England. His early years as a musician were spent in the service of the Roman Catholic Church, primarily at Waltham Abbey from 1538 to 1540 when the monasteries were dissolved. He was subsequently a lay clerk at Canterbury Cathedral and a gentleman of the Chapel Royal until his death. In 1571 Queen Elizabeth I granted Tallis and William Byrd a 21-year monopoly in music printing. Tallis was best known as a composer of choral music for both the Latin and reformed rites, but he also wrote prolifically for solo voice, strings, and keyboard. Tallis wrote nine tunes for Archbishop Parker's Psalter of 1567-1578. The Hymnal 1982 contains three of these tunes: The Eighth Tune, better known as Tallis' Canon, used for Hymns 25 and 43; The Third Tune, used for Hymns 170 and 692, and Tallis' Ordinal, used for Hymns 260 and 489. The Third Tune is the basis for Ralph Vaughan Williams's orchestral composition, “A Fantasia on a Theme of Tallis.” Tallis died in Greenwich, Kent.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.