Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur
One of the first sets of sacred music printed in England (1575), the Cantiones Sacrae were a joint publication by William Byrd and Thomas Tallis. The dedication to Queen Elizabeth was intended both in gratitude for her granting the composers the sole right to publish music in England, and to mark the 17th year of her reign. To this end, each composer contributed 17 pieces to the collection (although some separate numbering of sections of longer works was required to reach this total). In spite of the composers' initial optimism, the venture was a commercial failure, few copies being sold either at home or in Europe.
Publication date and place: 1575 in London
At the time of publication, Byrd was about 35 and had recently returned to London from a post in Lincoln; Tallis was about 70. The collection contains relatively new pieces as well as those written some years previously.