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Beautiful but simple Renaissance Piece

I am looking for a "beautiful" but "simple" piece of SATB Renaissance music.  Latin or English text is desirable.  Homophonic texture is OK; Polyphonic texture is good if the rhythm is not too sophisticated.  Palestrina would be the GREAT but anyone would be good also.  I am aware of Adoramus Te/Palestrina, Kyrie from Missa Brevis/Palestrina, and If Ye Love Me/Tallis.  Would appreicate any ideas.  Thanks in advance.
Replies (29): Threaded | Chronological
on January 24, 2014 12:35pm
I Have Longed For Thy Saving Health by Wm. Byrd
on January 24, 2014 10:06pm
  Thinking along those lines, if you are looking for some nice Palestrina, check out..
Alma Redemptoris Mater
Ave Maria
Lauda Sion
O Bone Jesu
O Domine Jesu Christe
Sicut Cervus &
Verbum Caro
    ..but there’s also…
Bateson:  Phyllis Farewell
Byrd:  Ave Verum Corpus
Gibbons:  Almighty and Everlasting God
Hassler:  Kyrie from “Missa Secunda” ed. by Silver
Josquin:  Kyrie from “Missa de Beata Virgine”
Lassus:  Adoramus Te, Christe
Victoria:  Jesu Dulcis Memoria
Wilbye:  Thus Saith My Cloris Bright
    ..just to name a few.
on January 25, 2014 10:10am
I will check these out..some I know and some I don't.  Thank you so much
on January 25, 2014 4:50am
Gibbons:  "Drop, Drop Slow Tears"
English entablature, arr. Proulx:  "Psalm 84" (available from GIA)
on January 25, 2014 10:11am
I don't know these; I'll look for them.  Thank you Ronald
on January 25, 2014 5:46am
Michael -- did you see John's request that the music be relatively "simple?"  Verbum Caro is for double choir!  
John -- several other English Renaissance pieces that fit your criteria are: 
Thomas Tallis -- If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments
Orlando Gibbons - O Lord, Increase My Faith
Richard Farrant -- Lord, for Thy Tender Mercy's Sake
All 3 are quite accessible, and have homophony sprinkled in with polyphony.
on January 25, 2014 10:13am
Michael, I had not thought of the Farrant and love it; it could be quite do-able. I don't know the Gibbons and will look it up. The thought of the Tallis came to mind last night.  Good suggestion also.  
on January 25, 2014 11:29am
Charles -- I'm sorry I wasn't very clear.  The piece I meant is "Verbum Caro, Panem Verum" by Palestrina and is for SATB, single choir.  You can see it at
I can't find Palestrina's "Verbum Caro" for double choir.
on February 5, 2014 7:12am
Michael -- I was thinking of "Verbum Caro Factum Est" which I think is by Palestrina and is for double choir.  Sorry I mis-understood you, but with only a partial title I hope you can see where I was misled.  
on February 5, 2014 10:32am
Hassler also wrote a double chorus "Verbum Caro Factum Est" which might be the piece you are thinking of.  Regardless it is a very nice piece, but probably would not come under the catagory of "easy".
on January 25, 2014 6:53am
The Christopher Tye (c.1505-1572) "O come ye servants of the Lord" is beautiful and simple. The English is original. There is homophony and simple polyphony within this short piece. There is also a Latin text that has been associated with this piece for some time: "Laudate Nomen Domini". Best wishes, RRW
on January 25, 2014 9:55am
Many madrigals would fit your bill, if you are not looking for sacred music. There are several good collections available. Other possibilities that haven been mentioned yet:
O Nata Lux - Tallis
Jacobean verse anthems by such composers as Byrd, Gibbons, Weelkes, and Tomkins. Gibbons' This Is the Record of John is the most famous of these.
Cantate Domino or Verbum Caro Factus Est - Hans Leo Hassler
Tu Solus, Qui Facis Mirabilia - Josquin des Prez
O Magnum Mysterium - Victoria
on January 25, 2014 9:56am
Il bianco e dolce cigno.  Text:  Giovanni Giudiccioni.  Music:  JACOB ARCADELT
available in CPDL
Italian, rhythmically easy.
on January 25, 2014 12:04pm
Take a look at the 9 Tunes from Archbishop Parker's Psalter. The texts are pre-King James translations of some of the psalms. They are completely homophonic and absolutely delightful. Number 3 is the tune that Vaughan Williams used as his theme in the famous orchestral work. They are available on CPDL. I am programming 1,3 and 8 as a set on my upcoming concert. 
Jeff DeMarco
on January 25, 2014 12:32pm
ADORAMUS TE  by Jacques Clement (Clemens Non Papa)
O JESU CHRISTE  by de Melle
Both are published by Bourne Co.
on January 26, 2014 5:09am
Domenico Scarlatti: "Iste Confessor".  Very easy to perform, but beautiful.  SATB plus a soloist.  There is a nice recording of it by Harry Christphers and the Sixteen if you want to hear it.  Several renditions are also available on YouTube, but The Sixteen performance is the best.
on January 27, 2014 7:04am
Wonderful to know your preference for Polyphony!  Here are some ideas:
Handl          Pueri concinite
Byrd           Terra tremuit
Byrd            Agnus Dei from Mass for 4 voices
Hassler        Cantate Domino
Tallis           This is my commandment
Palestrina     Dies Sanctificatus
Palestrina     Sicut cervus
Schütz         Cantate Domino
Schütz         Sicut Moses
Victoria        O quam gloriosum
Cornysh       A Robyn, gentil Robyn
on January 27, 2014 9:46am
This is easy.  2 best ways to get to know the Renaissance are:
-  Alleluia, singt neue Lieder by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelink
-  Canticum Canticorum by Palestrina
on January 28, 2014 8:01am
With all respect, I wouldn't consider Sweelinck as a Renaissance composer... I would be more inclined to give him the title of "Early baroque composer". However, I don't know the work you are suggesting and can't seem to find it online: depends of the writing!
Same thing for Heinrich Schütz in Mr Marvin's post... :) One can definitely hear references to his masters (Gabrieli and Monteverdi) in his work, who are definitely key composers in the "between period" of late Renaissance to early Baroque.
on January 28, 2014 3:36am
One of my absolute favorites continues to be LOOK DOWN, O LORD by Wm Byrd. I just listened to a wonderful performance of it on Youtube ---  Won't disappoint!  Good luck...
on January 28, 2014 5:29am
The thing that impresses me as I look at these suggestions is how we are able to be immersed in some wonderful music- how we get to listen to, think about , and experience with others music that has been inspired and is inspiring.  Thank you for these suggestions.
on February 3, 2014 3:05pm
Some simple, very popular-but-beautiful rennaissance music:
anon. (att. Lassus) - Mon coeur se recommande a vous (many fine English translations available)
Bennett - Weep, o mine eyes
Cornysh - Quid petis o filius - sections include solos, duets, etc.
Pilkington - Rest, sweet nymphs (OK, the composer dates indicate Baroque, but the style is no different from the Mon couer above)
Palestrina - O bone Jesu
Dowland - Come again, sweet Love doth now invite
There are many more.  These fit your criteria and are most popular.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on February 4, 2014 4:20am
I recently transcribed into modern notation a beautiful short (1:10) piece by Thomas Campion 1567-1620:  Author of Light (text and music).
It's available without cost by email: PDF of score plus mp3 of Sibelius audio. Although dated in the early 17th C., this piece would not have been
considered "modern" in style by Campion's contemporaries. 
on February 5, 2014 2:47pm
"O Jesu Christe" by de Melle.  Very simple; quite lovely actually.
on February 6, 2014 8:28am
Jesu Rex admirabilis by Palestrina
on March 3, 2014 11:34pm
My suggestion would be "Beati Quorum Via" by Charles Stanford. It is 6 parts in Latin, but isnt a very challenging piece and shows off a well blended group very well.
If you need help getting ahold of this or any other sheet music, feel free to email me at adamgilbertproductions(a)
Good luck!
-Adam Gilbert
on March 4, 2014 2:23pm
Great piece, but not Renaissance!
on March 6, 2014 10:07am
I can't think of any piece that better fits the description of "beautiful but simple" than Palestrina's Sicut cervus.  One of my favorite pieces of all time!
on March 6, 2014 2:21pm
Depending on your group Sicut cervus can be a bit of a challenge. If you want super simple, perhaps a motet. 
I've been using this for some sightreading and tuning exercises, but is lovely and simple, Adoramus te, Christe (attrib. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)
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