Thomas Tomkins's father was Master of the Choir at St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, and it was there that Thomas was born in 1572, and received his early musical education. About 1594 he was sent to London to study with William Byrd, and in 1596 he was appointed Master of the Choir of Worcester Cathedral.
After his training with Byrd, Tomkins maintained close ties with London: dedications of his many secular works show that he was on good terms with the leading court musicians, and in due course he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, succeeding William Hooper as one of the organists in 1621, and becoming senior organist and composer on the death of Byrd in 1623. The responsibilities of the two posts, and the wearisome travelling between them, seem to have led Tomkins to withdraw from his Chapel Royal commitments about 1628 and devote himself exclusively to his Worcester duties.
Tomkins served Worcester Cathedral for fifty years, until the Civil War brought an end to the services in 1646. By now in his seventies, a widower, and without a regular income, he lived on in his house in the cathedral precincts until 1654 when he moved a few miles out of the city to his son Nathaniel's home in the village of Martin Hussingtree, where he died two years later.
»A valuable introduction to this endlessly rewarding composer. This CD shouldn't be missed« (Goldberg)
»One of England's most accomplished and versatile Tudor composers to whose music the Windsor choir does full and pleasing justice« (Organists' Review)