Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Parsley, Osbert

PARSLEY or PERSLEY, OSBERT (1511–1585), musical composer, born in 1511, and for fifty years singing master at Norwich Cathedral, was quoted by Morley in 1597 with qualified approval for his ingenuity in composing a canon upon a subject in plain song. His treatment of the hymn ‘Salvator Mundi’ is the example especially noted (Plain Introduction to Practicall Musick, pp. 96–8). William Jackson has commented upon this passage: ‘A canon upon a plain song is the most difficult part of composition. … This of Parsley's has many faults which nothing can excuse but its being a canon upon a plain song’ (ib. ed. 1608, with manuscript notes, in Brit. Mus.).

Among manuscript music by Parsley preserved in the principal libraries are: (1) ‘Conserva me,’ (2) ‘Benedicam Dominum,’ and (3) ‘Domine quid multiplicati,’ in lute notation (Brit Mus. Addit. MS. 29246, ff. 8, 12 b). 4. Te Deum, a 4. 5. Benedictus, a 4. 6. ‘Perslis’ or ‘Pslyes Clock,’ a 5 (ib. 30480–4, ff. in Cantus 4, 11, 70 b). 7. Spes nostra a 5 (ib. 31390, f. 11 b). 8. In Nomine (ib. 32377, f. 20 b).

[Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, iv. 27; authorities quoted.]

L. M. M.