John Merbecke was a theologian as well as a composer; his Calvinist beliefs led him to strongly support the reformed Church of England and its 1549 Book of Common Prayer – which he set to music the next year, dedicated to the young King Edward VI. But Merbecke’s music was quickly rendered obsolete when a new, more Calvinist edition of the BCP came out in 1552. Merbecke’s music languished for centuries until it was rediscovered in the 19th century by, ironically, Anglo-Catholics looking to restore the ancient beauty of the liturgy. From then on Merbecke was widely sung throughout the Anglican Communion until modern language liturgies began replacing the Eliaabethan “thee’s and thou’s” of the 1662 Prayer Book. So once again, Merbecke’s music has been laid to rest.

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