About this work
Tribulatio proxima est is a five-part Latin motet by the renaissance English composer, William Byrd (1543-1623). It is adjacent to (in the 1591 Cantiones Sacre) and shares many features with Byrd's Marian hymn, Salve Regina. Both have a particularly unusual opening, where a semichoir sings material which is not picked up by the other voices upon their entrance.
The text is a pastiche of several sources juxtaposed for their dramatic intent. The earlier text (to passus sum ab eis is a mixture of several Lenten responds The latter text is from Psalm 69 : 6.
A lackluster opening belies the careful structure in this work. The latter sections of the bipartite text are appeals, and it is here that Byrd places his dramatic writing. Defensor vitae meae, vindica me is intensely dramatic. Domine, ne moreris is even more so. The almost madrigal-like text-painting is very striking.