Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): – Domine, non secundum

Josquin Des Prez - 2Of all his music it’s Josquin Desprez’ motets that I find the most intriguing and satisfying. This particular motet is one those published by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1503 in his anthology of sacred motets »Motetti de Passione, de Cruce, de Sacramento, de Beata Virgine et huiusmodi B«. Petrucci included several motets by Josquin in his anthology of which Domine, non secundum is the most elaborate. At first it was thought by musicologists that Josquin composed it in his youth in Milan. However the conventional wisdom now is that in fact he composed it sometime between 1489 and 1495 while he was a singer in the papal choir.

It’s based upon plainchant and is relatively florid with the chant’s influence being especially keenly felt in the top line. Part of the motet’s appeal is how Josquin progressively simplifies the music as the motet progresses – it starts relatively elaborately with a duet for the top voices which Josquin contrasts with a duet for the lower voices. For me the musical highpoint of the motet is at the line  ‘Quia paupers facti sumus nimis’ (Because we beggars have become as nothing) followed a gentle let-down as Josquin ends the motet. It’s performed in the music video below by Edward Wickham & The Clerks Group. Enjoy :-)


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