Before me, careless lying is a fine example of the contrapuntal art of Herbert Howells (1892–1983), inspired by the work of the great English composers of the Renaissance period, those of the madrigal school in particular, but in its passionate sensibility essentially twentieth century. The composer wrote this partsong on Christmas Day 1918, and dedicated it to his friend the organist Dr R. R. Terry, Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral, and chairman of the Tudor Church Music committee. The words are by the poet and biographer Austin Dobson, whose Collected Poems was published in 1897.
Perhaps as a token of the composer’s regard for Terry’s pioneering work in furthering the appreciation and understanding of sixteenth-century church music, Before me, careless lying was originally published with the alto and tenor parts notated in traditional clefs. It is here reissued with clefs in modern forms of treble and transposed treble respectively, and with a keyboard transcription of the vocal parts which is intended for use in rehearsal.