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The Robert Tailour Project


  • to promote performances of Robert Tailour's Sacred Hymns 1615, in concerts, domestic music-making and worship services, using period instruments and modern equivalents

  • to produce a modern edtion of the twelve Psalm settings

  • to pioneer a recording of all 12 settings, each for a different combination of Tailour's suggested instrumentations


  • my hand-written transcriptions of all 12 settings, and eventual arrangement in modern computer-generated notation

  • a partial facsimile (missing Psalm 16) on the IMSLP website:

  • copies in libraries and collections eg The British Library (Lbl K. 2. h. 14), Lambeth Palace Library, The Bodleian Library.

  • a commercial recording of three of the settings, using the scoring for soprano and lyra viol, on the Gramola label:  GRAM98911; recorded by the group Unidas in 2011 (see   ) NB Psalm 16 can be heard, after a long silence, on the same track as Psalm 19 - though it is not listed!

  • provision of original instruments through loans from instrument makers and individuals

  • any ensemble that regularly performs with 5 voices, 5 viols, lute or orpharion (a smaller version of the steel-strung bandora, with scalloped spaces between the frets, and longer bass strings facilitated by arranging the frets in a fan-shaped format - wider at the side of the lowest strings)

  • any bass viol/viola da gamba player who has mastered the technique of playing lyra viol or 'harp-way' style (made possible because

       of the shallow curvature of the bass viol bridge, enabling three strings to be played at a time, easily creating triads). Other composers              who wrote for this style of playing include John Cooper ('Coperario'), John Jenkins, Christopher Simpson, Charles Coleman,

       William Lawes, Tobias Hume and Marin Marais.  Marais was featured in the feature-length movie 'Tous les Matins du Monde', with          lyra viol perfomances by Jordi Savall.


(period instruments)

  • voice and lyra viol

  • voice and lute

  • soprano voice and orpharion

  • soprano and 4 viols

  • unaccompanied voices: SACtTB

  • soprano, 4 viols, lute or orpharion


  • Octava Consort (London)

  • St.John's Consort (Keynsham)

  • my own 'Ten Ways to Sing the Psalms' workshops (see 'Lectures and Workshops' page)

  • any interested ensembles, including those who aim to perform music from similar collections eg Richard Alison's 'Psalmes of David' 1599



















Tailour 1615 Sacred Hymns - title page.J
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The British Library copy (Lbl K. 2. h. 14) - title page.

The Company of Stationers records for 1615 have an entry that this book of Psalms was registered by one 'Joyce Tailour' - there is no record of, or foundation for, the wide-spread attribution of the Psalm        paraphrases to Sir Edwin Sandys the politician.                                                     

Psalm 16 'Then thou preserve me Lord': the      first of four pages, showing treble voice intabulation for lyra viol; the remaining pages show notation for 4 lower voices or viols (untexted, though clearly from the title page intended to be sung), and intabulation for lute


(including modern instruments)

  • voice and classical guitar

  • voice and 12-string guitar

  • voice and organ

  • voice, organ/harpsichord/guitar, cello

  • string quintet

  • flute or recorder and string quartet

Sample from my transcription of Tailour's Psalm 16

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