Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Glenn Stanley; Dr. Alain Frogley

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


In an article on canon composition in England, Denis Collins noted similarities in the canonic styles of William Byrd and Henry Purcell. This project is an attempt to continue Collins’s research and identify similarities in the canonic writing of the sacred canons composed by Purcell and the earlier generation of Byrd and Thomas Tallis. There is evidence in Purcell’s canons that he drew inspiration from Byrd’s works.

Perhaps the most telling connection between the works of Byrd and Purcell is the similarity between Byrd’s canonic setting of the Gloria Patri as the third section of the motet O lux beata Trinitas, published in the 1575 Cantiones sacrae, and Purcell’s many settings of the Gloria Patri, both in Latin and English. As the Lesser Doxology, the Gloria Patri is an important part of Anglican services. Purcell was not obligated to compose them as canons, however, and the large number of canonic settings of this text is unusual. By relying on intervals of imitation and canonic types that were common in English canonic history and closely copying the intervals used in the first phrase of Byrd’s Gloria Patri, Purcell invoked English traditions. Living during the English Restoration, Purcell used canon to identify himself specifically as an English composer. Byrd had used the same compositional technique as a means of representing himself as a Catholic under the Protestant political regime.

Major Advisor

Dr. Eric Rice