Felice Anerio (±1560-1614): Magnificat quinti toni

Felice Anerio (the elder of the two brothers) had a very successful musical career starting as  a choirboy at Santa Maria Maggiore and at St Peter’s where he studied under Palestrina. He went on to be maestro di capella  at the Spanish Santa Maria di Monserrato and the English College before being appointed composer to the Papal Chapel following Palestrina’s death in 1594. He wrote a lot of music for double choir which was so popular in Rome that the production of its resident composers of polychoral music outstripped that of the Venetians. The Magnificat quinti toni is typical of Anerio’s output for the Sistine chapel, it’s through-composed and based – very loosely based, on the fifth reciting tone which you can hear quoted in the piece. Anerio provides momentum and interest by dividing the verses between the choirs and making them engage in an antiphonal dialogue, he highlights the important words and phrases in the text by having them sung by eight voices and by switching between homophony and polyphony. It’s a beautiful piece of music that really deserves to be far better known. Enjoy :-).


Text & Translation: Magnificat

LatinModern EnglishTraditional Translation
Magnificat anima mea Dominum.My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.My soul doth magnify the Lord:
Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo.And my spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.and my spirit rejoiceth in God my Saviour.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:For he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his handmaiden:For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his hand-maiden.
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.For behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est:For he that is mighty has done wondrous things for me:For he that is mighty hath magnified me:
et sanctum nomen eius.and holy is his name.and holy is his Name.
Et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.And his mercy is upon them
that fear him throughout all generations.
And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.
Fecit potentiam in bracchio suo:He has shown the power of his arm:He hath shewed strength with his arm:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.he has scattered the proud in their conceit.he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Deposuit potentes de sede,
et exaltavit humiles.
He has put down the mighty from their seat, and has exalted the humble and meek.He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
Esurientes implevit bonis:He has filled the hungry with good things:He hath filled the hungry with good things:
et divites dimisit inanes.and the rich he has sent empty away.and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Suscepit Israel, puerum suum,
recordatus misericordiae suae.
He has sustained his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel:
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham, et semini eius in saecula.As he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his sons for ever.As he promised to our forefather Abraham and to his seed for ever.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.As it was in the beginning, and is now, and ever shall be: world without end.

Luke 1: 46-55


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