Historiated initial accompanying hymns to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Source: Compendium morale of Roger de Waltham (d. 1336).
Location: University of Glasgow Library.
Guillaume de Machaut continues to be acknowledged to this day as the most significant French poet and composer of the fourteenth century [I wrote about him here: Sunday Feature: Guillaume de Machaut (c1300-1377): – Messe de Nostre Dame – Ensemble Gilles Binchois dir. D. Vellard | Saturday Chorale
– mfi]. He was both a poet and a musician and it's no exaggeration to say that he dominated French poetry and music for several generations after his death. His four-part setting of the Marian motet Inviolata Genetrix
(Virgin mother) is a typical Marian intercessionary motet of its period in which the Virgin, who was seen as a more approachable figure than Christ, is asked to protect her devotees to intercede for them in the dire straits in which they find themselves:
"help us decisively
for we perish,
we are violently attacked
but are feebly defended,"
(The reference is to the ravages of the 100 years war). It's an unusual piece of music that sounds very unfamiliar to modern ears but which repays the effort made. It's also unusual amongst Machaut's motets firstly because it is a four-part setting (motetus, triplem, contratenor and tenor) with contratenor and tenor singing the same text, and secondly because it's in Latin and Machaut set mostly French secular texts. Enjoy :-).
Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...