Feature: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Missa Veni Sponsa Christi

Palestrina’s four-part setting of the Mass Missa Veni sponsa Christi, for 4 voices was published in 1599 in Venice in the Missarum liber nonus. It is, as the name would lead you to expect, based upon a setting of Veni sponsa Christi which was the Magnificat antiphon prescribed to be sung at Second Vespers from the Common of Virgins. Palestrina composed a really rather beautiful four-part (SATB) motet for this antiphon in which he published in ‘Motecta festorum totius anni cum communi sanctorum quaternis vocibus’ in 1563. I  wrote about this motet in October 2013, and you’ll get far more enjoyment from this Mass if you first listen to the motet and read about it which you can do on the following posting on my site: http://saturdaychorale.com/2013/10/22/giovanni-pierluigi-da-palestrina-1525-1594-veni-sponsa-chisti-antiphon-and-motet/.

It’s not surprising that Palestrina composed a setting of this motet, if you take a look at the page for Veni Sponsa Christi on CPDL you’ll see that they’ve listed a lot of settings of it  both from composers who pre-date him and his contemporaries (see: http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Veni_sponsa_Christi ).  Nor is  surprising that Palestrina used his motet as the basis for a Mass setting. Marian Motets and Marian Masses were in heavy demand in counter-reformation Italy and Palestrina’s contemporaries particularly admired his skill as a composer of beautiful motets. Palestrina wound up a wealthy man and a large part of the reason for that is that he gave his audience what he knew they wanted. Like the motet it’s a very dense piece of writing into which Palestrina crams as much musical material as he possibly can while retaining the graciousness and poise for which his music is famous. For the purposes of this video I’ve included the antiphon at the start of the video so that you can hear the cantus firmus, the text and translation are below. Enjoy :-).


Video & Commentary Source: ▶ Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (±1525-1594): Missa Veni Sponsa Christi – YouTube Published on 4 May 2015 by markfromireland

Text & Translation: Veni Sponsa Christi

Veni sponsa Christi, accipe coronam
quam tibi Dominus praeparavit in aeternum
pro cujus amore sanguinem tuum fudisti
et cum Angelis in paradisum introisti.
Veni, electa mea,
et ponam in te thronum meum
quia concupivit Rex speciem tuam.
Come, bride of Christ, receive the crown
which the Lord has prepared for you for all eternity;
for whose love you have shed your blood.
And you will enter into the Paradise among the angels.
Come, O you my chosen one,
and I will set my throne within you:
so shall the King have pleasure in your beauty.

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