- John Taverner should not be confused with the 20th-21st century British composer John Tavener.
Taverner was born in south Lincolnshire. He was employed in a church in Tattershall in the early 1520s, and in 1526 became the first choirmaster at Cardinal's College, Oxford (now Christ Church, Oxford) in 1526. He left there in 1530 having been briefly imprisoned for heresy in 1528 after becoming involved in a Lutheran scandal. He was subsequently a lay clerk at the parish church of St. Botolph in Boston.
It is often said that Taverner later abandoned music and worked as an agent of Thomas Cromwell assisting in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, although the veracity of this is now thought to be highly questionable.
Most of Taverner's music is vocal, and includes masses, Magnificats and motets. The bulk of his output is thought to date from the 1520s. His best known mass is based on a popular song, " The Western Wynde" (John Sheppard and Christopher Tye later also wrote masses based on this same song). A part of the Benedictus of his mass Gloria tibi Trinitas was used as the prototype for instrumental works by many other composers with the name In nomine.