Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Fratres, ego enim accepi

Textually this is a very odd motet indeed in it de Monte takes two very different texts and stitches them together in such a way that we first have a narrative and then a commentary upon that narrative. The narrative is the text of vv23–24 of 1 Corinthians which paraphrases the Gospels’ recounting of the Last Supper, the commentary is the fourteenth century Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers on Corpus Christi, O Quam suavis (O how sweet). The first verse – the  narrative, is quite a racy piece of music, well-paced and with word-painting that illustrates its subject such as the rapid choppy notes denoting the action of the bread being broken, it’s a musical pun of the type so beloved of Renaissance composers on the word ‘fregit’ (broken) which refers both to the bread being broken and the musical concept of a series of small notes. By contrast the second verse has its focus on the mystery of transubstantiation and the calm coming from redemption. It sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does – it certainly caused me some surprise when I first heard it, it must have astonished those who first heard it. Enjoy :-).


Philippe de Monte (1521-1603): Fratres, ego enim accepi

Fratres, ego enim accepi a Domino
quod et tradidi vobis,
quoniam Dominus Jesus in qua nocte tradebatur,
accepit panem, et gratias agens fregit,
et dixit:
Accipite et manducate:
hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur:
hoc facite in meam commemorationem.

Brethren, I have received of the Lord,
that which also I delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke,
and said:
Take and eat,
this is my body which shall be delivered for you;
do this in commemoration of me.

O quam suavis est, Domine, spiritus tuus,
qui ut dulcedinem tuam
in filios demonstrares,
pane suavissimo de caelo praestito,
esurientes reples bonis,
fastidiosos divites dimittens inanes.

1 Corinthians 11: 23-4; Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers on Corpus Christi

O how sweet, Lord, is your spirit!
Who, that you might show your sweetness to your sons,
gave us the sweetest bread from heaven,
filling the hungry ones with good things,
and sending away empty the rich and fastidious.

countertenor Terry Wey, Jakob Huppmann
tenor Tore Tom Denys, Thomas Künne
baritone Tim Scott Whiteley
bass Ulfried Staber

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