Richard Dering (±1580–1630): Ave Virgo gloriosa

Like Bull and Peter Philips Dering was an English Catholic musician who chose to live abroad so that he could practice his faith. He went first to Venice and the to Rome and for at least three years (1617-1620) he held a post as organist of the convent of English nuns in Brussels and perhaps it was this post which brought him to the notice of the French and English governments for in 1625 he was appointed organist to Charles I’s new bride the French Catholic Henrietta Maria he remained at the English court until his death in 1630.  His music can be divided into two categories English and Italianate – his English music is broadly comparable to that of Gibbons, Weelkes and Ward while his Italianate music such as this gracefully written five-part (SSATB) motet in honour of The Virgin is strongly influenced by contemporary Continental fashions, which in practice means that the musical fashions percolating throughout the Catholic hearlands from Italy. I certainly wouldn’t place him in the same league as Bull or Peter Philips but if you take him as he is there’s much to enjoy in his music. Certainly his contemporaries, including Oliver Cromwell, greatly admired his music and both Peacham and Mace included him in their lists of musical worthies.

Ave Virgo gloriosa dates from early on in his career he first published it in 1617 in his collection of motets all of which were composed in ‘first city of the world’ and are heavily influenced by the new Italian Baroque style. It’s a fluid and simply written piece without much in the way of contrapuntal elaboration that vividly reflects its text. Enjoy :-).


Richard Dering (c. 1580–1630): Ave Virgo gloriosa

Ave Virgo gloriosa,
Favo mellis dulcior:
Mater Dei gloriosa,
Stella sole clarior:
Tu es illa speciosa,
Qua nulla est pulchrior,
Rubicunda plus quam rosa,
Lilio candidior.

(Anonymous medieval poem)

Hail, glorious Virgin,
Sweeter than honey in the comb:
Glorious Mother of God,
Brighter than the sun:
You are the fair one
None more beautiful,
Redder than the rose,
Whiter than the lily.

Performers: The Cambridge Singers directed by John Rutter

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