If Ye Love Me is a paraphrase setting of the Thomas Tallis four-part motet of the same name. Published in 1565 during the reign of Elizabeth the First, it incorporates new musical material woven around the beautiful yet simple motet Tallis composed for the Church of England. At the time Tallis composed the work, the Church of England decreed that all choral music must be sung in English, doing away with the Latin text commonly used. Tallis chose his text from Jesus’ words to His disciples in the Gospel of John, where He said:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father,
and he shall give you another comforter,
that he may ‘bide with you forever;
E’en the sp’rit of truth.” (John 14: 15-17, from the Tyndale translation)
This setting strives to keep the comfort alluded to in the words of Christ, with a transparent setting giving the original music ‘room’ to speak and the new music a chance to embrace it. This setting was written as a gift for the composer’s wife, Julie.