Words written by Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, are being performed to music for the first time in 470 years on Friday. Dr David Skinner from Cambridge University found a fragmented score in the late 1970s and intensively researched the piece. It is the Ninth Psalm from Catherine’s book “Psalms or Prayers.”
The words were written when King Henry VIII was at war with France. It begins with,
“Se lord and behold, how many they be, which trouble me, how manie, which make rebellion against me. They saie among themselues of my soul: there is no helpe of god for it to trust upon. O lorde god, in the haue I put my hope and trust: saue me from them which doe persecute me, and deliuer me. Lest peraduenture at one time or an other take my life from me.’
The music on the fragment was an early version of Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis’ work ‘Gaude gloriosa dei mater.”
David Skinner said: “This fragment suggests that Catherine Parr and Tallis knew one another, and indeed worked towards a common cause: they were to serve, together, as part of Henry’s PR machine to create a most effective mouthpiece for the king’s cause.
He also said: “These discoveries are not only significant for cultural historians but also fundamentally challenge our perceptions of Tallis’s music and chronology and open up many fascinating avenues for further research in the years to come.”