Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Ne timeas, Maria

Philippe de Monte (1521-1603) was an extraordinarily prolific composer. Anglophones mostly know of him because of his friendship with William Byrd and the resulting motets dealing with the oppression of Catholics under English rule. But this was only one episode in an extraordinarily productive career he published no less than thirty-four(!) books of madrigals,  thirty-eight Mass settings, around 250 motets, and 144 madrigali spirituali. His patrons included the Pinelli banking family in Naples, Philip II of Spain, and the Emperors Maximilian II and Rudolf II in whose combined service he spent thirty-five years as Kapellmeister to the Hapsburg court.

His setting of Ne timeas, Maria takes its text from a paraphrasis of the Annunciation story from Luke. De Monte’s aim was to portray in music the combination of certainty conveyed by the angel and Mary’s joy as she learns of God’s plan for her. He achieved this somewhat contradictory goal by combining a long-note figure and a more active melody at the start of each of the motet’s two section. There’s a moment of homophony with a slight twist in the harmony at "quomodo fiet istud, Angele Dei," before the two diverge again. Enjoy :-)


Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Ne timeas, Maria

Ne timeas, Maria, invenisti gratiam apud Dominum:
ecce concipies et paries Filium.
Dabit ei Dominus sedem David patris eius,
et regnabit in aeternum.

Fear not, Mary, you have found favour with the Lord:
behold, you will conceive and bear a Son.
The Lord shall give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign for ever.

Ecce ancilla Domini: fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Quomodo fiet istud, Angele Dei,
quia virum in concipiendo non pertuli?
Audi Maria, Virgo Christi: Spiritus Sanctus
superveniet in te, et virtus Altissimi obumbrabit tibi.

paraphrase of Luke 1: 30ff

Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be according to your word.
How can this be, Angel of God,
since I have not known a man?
Hearken Mary, Virgin of Christ: the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow thee.

Performers: Cinquecento

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *