Renaissance (1400-1600)

Tallis, Spem in alium (c. 1570)

Stop and take note! Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium is a piece of music that will make you believe in something bigger and far more important than anything else you are searching for on the internet today.

The music begins with a single voice breaking the silence before other voices penetrate our consciousness with forty (yes, forty)
separate vocal lines. Once it gets going, the piece provides eight separate five-part choirs singing simultaneously, creating a labyrinth of sound that harmonizes magnificently.

And we should not overlook the metaphor of diverse human voices coming together to touch our souls and place us in a different world. All told, the music is relaxing, reassuring, and achingly beautiful. Listen to it several times and you might become addicted.

Spem in alium nunquam habui (I have never put my hope in any other)
Praeter in te, Deus Israel (but in You, O God of Israel)
Qui irasceris et propitius eris (who can show both anger and graciousness,)
et omnia peccata hominum (and who absolves all the sins)
in tribulatione dimittis (of suffering man)
Domine Deus (Lord God,)
Creator caeli et terrae (Creator of Heaven and Earth)
respice humilitatem nostram (be mindful of our lowliness)

The Taverner Choir, with animated graphical score by Stephen Malinowski