Double canon dedicated to Henry VIII
Shelfmark: Royal Ms. 11 E xi, ff.2v-3
Inscribed: ‘Hail, root, bringing forth stems of different colours from your shoot, among which one stands out, from whose top there gleams a scarlet rose, where peace and justice stand enclosed and harmonious.’
This grand manuscript was prepared for Henry in 1516 by a successful Flemish merchant named Petrus de Opitiis. His son Benedictus wrote one of the motets found later in the volume and became Henry’s court organist in the same year. The six compositions are carefully chosen to reflect Henry’s most pressing concern at the time: to ensure the continuation of the Tudor dynasty through the birth of a son.
The first two pieces are tributes to Henry as the Tudor rose, symbol of the union of the Houses of York and Lancaster, and the four remaining motets all refer to the theme of childbirth.
This piece is a canon (or round) for four voices: two voices sing the music as written and another two sing the same melody a perfect fourth higher, beginning when the first singers reach the points marked with a sign.