Three hundred, fourteen years ago, today…
The Treaty of Union is the name usually, now, given to the agreement which led to the creation of the new state of Great Britain [.] [It stated] that England, which already included Wales, and Scotland were to be “United into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain[.]” At the time it, was more often referred to as the Articles of Union. The details of the treaty were agreed on [July 22], 1706 and separate Acts of Union were then passed by the parliaments of England and Scotland to put the agreed articles into effect. The political union took effect on [May 1], 1707.
Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland, last monarch of the Tudor dynasty, died without issue on [March 24], 1603 and the throne fell at once […] to her first cousin twice removed, James VI of Scotland, a member of House of Stuart and the only son of Mary, Queen of Scots. By the Union of the Crowns in 1603, he assumed the throne of the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Ireland as King James I. This personal union lessened the constant English fears of Scottish cooperation with France in a feared French invasion of England. After [the] union, the new monarch, James I and VI, sought to unite the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England into a state which he referred to as “Great Britain”. Nevertheless, Acts of Parliament attempting to unite the two countries failed in 1606, 1667 and 1689.
Scots History Online
Union with England (UK Legislation)
Union with Scotland (UK Legislation)
Scottish Referendums (BBC)
Mob Unrest and Disorder (Web Archive/Parliament UK)
Now, we are in the 1570s…
Spem in Alium is Latin for “hope in any other” or “hope in another”. A 40-part Renaissance Motet, it was composed in 1570 (thereabouts) by Thomas Tallis (Tallys). Written for eight choirs of five voices each, meaning there are 40 separate voices singing individual lines of music, it is considered to be Tallis’s greatest achievement and, possibly, one of the finest compositions of all time.
Information on where it was first performed is scarce. There appears to be some confusion regarding where it took place, as two locations…Nonsuch Palace, a royal Tudor palace in Surrey built by Henry VIII (not to be confused with Nonsuch Mansion) and Arundel House, a London townhouse originally for the Bishops of Bath & Wells…were both owned by Henry Fitzalan, the 12th/19th Earl of Arundel at one time. Most of what I have read leans towards Arundel House but, truly, I don’t think anyone really knows. It’s all a big guess. And, it is pure speculation as to why he wrote it. Some suggestions include a challenge due to an Italian composer doing same, Elizabeth’s 40th birthday or, perhaps for Mary as he was Catholic. Again, no one really knows.
The music, below, is soul stirring. ~Vic
The text of the motet:
Spem in alium nunquam habui
Praeter in te, Deus Israel
Qui irasceris et propitius eris
et omnia peccata hominum
in tribulatione dimittis
Creator caeli et terrae
respice humilitatem nostram
I have never put my hope in any other
but in Thee, God of Israel
who canst show both wrath and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins
of man in suffering
Creator of Heaven and Earth
Regard our humility
Additional Reading & Sources:
The Belle Jar (Blog Post)
Oxford Music Online
Spem in Alium History (PDF on Super Flumina Website)
How To Buy Spem In Alium (Classic FM Website)
Tallis and His Song of Forty Parts (Zenodo Website)