Little is known about the life of Thomas Tallis beyond a few basic facts. He began his career as organist at Dover Priory, and continued at Waltham Abbey. Following the dissolution of the monasteries he become a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, where he served during the turbulent reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I. Church music was functional and the composer a craftsman, who, if he avoided controversy, could serve quietly in any religious or political condition.
Traditionally Lamentations were created for use in church in holy week, with over 60 composers having created them. However the expressive style of Tallis's motet shows little sign of having been composed for church use. Instead it is probably intended as a lament for the suppression of the Catholic faith at the time.
Tallis's Lamentations are presented here in their original key for 5 trombones, which match the sombre and noble mood of this music.
This edition is the result of a new examination of the source texts, principally a set of part books written in 1575 by John Sadler. A number of errors in other modern editions have been avoided. Many accidentals appear in the original text, and others have been added in accordance with the convention of the time. All tempo and dynamic markings are editorial, as are the bar lines. Slurs, phrase and breath marks are based on the text underlay and should be observed, even when they seem oddly placed.