The Tallis Scholars have reached number one in the UK classical chart with help from an unlikely source – the erotic fiction novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

The group made it to the top spot in this week’s singles chart with Spem in alium. Sales of the single have grown over the last few weeks, seeing it rise from number 20, to 13, then climbing into the top ten; and now to the top position as the track has become increasingly popular on iTunes.

Director Peter Philips said: ‘I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I am most grateful to the author for introducing so many new listeners to the musical sensation that is Thomas Tallis’s Spem in alium.’

Spem in alium, featured in the novel, has also found success in the US, Canadian and Australian classical charts, as the popularity surrounding E. L. James’s book continues to grow. As plans are announced for a possible film adaptation, the song is likely to feature in the soundtrack.

Peter Phillips explained the background to the song: ‘Written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I it features 40 individual voices singing in Latin that combine to a thrilling climax for the words ‘respice humilitatem nostram’(be mindful of our humiliation).’

The book’s author, E. L. James, said of the group’s chart success: ‘I am delighted to have introduced so many of my readers to this amazing sixteenth-century piece of music, it is absolutely wonderful and the recording from The Tallis Scholars is particularly special. A deserved number one!’