Suscipe Quaeso

Thomas Tallis

edited:Alistair Dixon

  Cat. 0073 H (high pitch)
Cat. 0073 L (Low pitch)
    High pitch
Low pitch
  Genre: Motet  
  Liturgical Use: Devotional  
  Vocal Disposition: SSAATBB (high)

  Price: £2.75  

Suscipe quaeso is not just one of Tallis’s finest compositions but must surely rank as one of the great masterpieces of 16th century England. Jeremy Noble has suggested that it was written in 1554 for the Service of Absolution of England from heresy in November that year. Queen Mary’s accession at the beginning of 1554 saw the reversal of the English Reformation and the restoration of the Catholic faith.

Suscipe Quaeso is conceived on a lavish scale using seven voices; a feature it has in common with Tallis’s Mass Puer natus est nobis for which there is further evidence pointing towards a compositional date of 1554. With its compass of only 20 notes and composition in prima and secunda parts it certainly exhibits continental characteristics which would be appropriate for a joining of forces between the English Chapel Royal and the Capilla flamenca which accompanied Philip of Spain to England when he married Mary in July 1554.


Cantiones Sacrae 1575

Text and Translation

Suscipe quaeso Domine vocem confitentis, scelera mea non defendo, peccavi: Deus miserere mei, peccavi, dele culpas meas gratia tua.

Si enim iniquitates recordaberis quis sustineat, quis enim iustus qui se dicere audeat sine peccato esse, nullus est enim mundus in conspectu tuo.
Accept, I beseech thee O Lord, the voice of him who confesses. My crimes I do not defend; I have sinned. O God have mercy on me; I have sinned. Do away my sins by thy grace.

For if thou shalt remember iniquities, who could bear it? For who is so righteous that he dare say that he is without sin? For there is no-one pure in thy sight.

Editorial Procedures and Conventions

Clefs and signatures: The original clefs and signatures are indicated in the prefatory staves.
Note values and barring:
Note values have been kept at the original values
Transposition: Two versions are available. At its original pitch, Suscipe Quaeso would have been performed with two mean voices, two tenors, baritone and two basses.

The version for full choir has been transposed upwards by two tones to give two soprano parts, two alto parts (with occasional low notes), one tenor and two bass parts. The contra tenor part has a higher tessitura than the discantus and therefore appears as the first alto part. The bassus part has a lower tessitura that the bassus secundus and the two parts are therefore reversed.
Voice designations and ranges:
The editorís voice designations are given after the prefatory staves. The ranges of each part are indicated at the pitch of the modern edition.
Accidentals given in the source are shown within the stave.
Accidentals which are implied by the rules of musica ficta are provided editorially above the notes.
Text and Underlay: Text underlay given explicitly in the source is printed in the normal serif typeface. Editorial verbal repetitions indicated in the source by the sign ij are shown in italics. Latin spelling and punctuation have been standardised.
Click here to see low resolution versions of the first page:

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High pitch

Click here to hear a midi file of the opening.