Odyssean Ensemble - Byrd: The Great Service & Anthems - BBC Music Magazine
Recommended recording of Byrd's Magnificat (from the Great Service)
The publication of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 fundamentally altered the nature of music required for the liturgy. Out went sumptuous polyphony; in came a rather more austere and syllabic style, with texts in the vernacular. Byrd’s Great Service owes its genesis to this new design, but in characteristic fashion Byrd outplays the new normal and creates a rich and lavish suite of movements for the new liturgical framework from which the Magnificat is a shining example. Widely thought to be Byrd’s finest liturgical music, the Great Service is a highly inventive, dramatic and colourful score for ten-part choir.