Spem in Alium

Spem in Alium February 4, 2019

I still remember vividly my introduction to the music of Thomas Tallis. It occurred at a musical performance connected with a conference on Christology that took place at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Exploring Tallis’ music, one inevitably becomes familiar with the work Spem in Alium. What I failed to notice, however, until an article at Episcopal Cafe pointed it out, is that the text of this work is from the Book of Judith, a text that is in the Apocrypha and so not included in Protestant Bibles.

Judith has been a popular work as far as its reception in music is concerned. The Milken Archive had an article (with embedded music) recently about William Schuman’s setting of Judith. Other settings of the story include those by Thomas Arne, Arthur Honegger, and Hubert Parry, typically in the form of Oratorios.

See also Ed Gallagher’s post about how Jerome categorized the books of Judith and Tobit, as well as this open access book about Judith studies across the disciplines.

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  • Timothy Weston

    Tallis always has beautiful layering in his thematic developments.