Jacquet de Mantua (1483-1559): Domine non secundum peccata nostra

This strange, impressive, but very beautiful setting of the Tractus for Mass on Ash Wednesday was published by Pierre Attaingnant in 1535. It’s divided into three sections – two outer sections surrounding a middle section that is scored entirely differently from its frame. The beginning section which is scored for soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor and two bass clefs (SSATBB) is marked by a series of contrasts from low to high and has a cadential ending. This leads us to the four-part second section of the Tractus which is scored entirely for low voices three tenors and a bass (TTTB). It’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of music which like its predecessor is concerned with contesting the high and low voices within the piece. Its rising runs contrasted with almost homophonic declamation at misericordiae tuae and facti sumus make it unique amongst Jacquet’s compositions indeed I can’t recall any contemporaneous piece that sounds quite like it. The final section also explores contrasts, it too is SSATBB but it starts with some beautifully ethereal singing by the upper voices before the full choir come in at Deus salutaris noster  (God our salvation) this is followed by another upper-voice trio which in turn is supplanted by the Choir which resolves into one final contrasting passage and cadence at propter nomen tuum (for your name). Strange, perhaps experimental, but possessed of it’s own uniquely haunting beauty. Enjoy :-)


Jacquet de Mantua (1483-1559): Domine non secundum peccata nostra


Domine, non secundum peccata nostra
quae fecimus nos:
neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.

Lord, judge us not on account of our sins
that we have committed:
neither on account of our iniquities.

Domine, ne memineris
iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum:
cito anticipent nos misericordiae tuae,
quia pauperes facti sumus nimis.

Lord, do not recall
the iniquity of our former selves:
speedily may your mercies overtake us,
for we have been made poor in the extreme.

Adiuva nos, Deus salutaris noster:
et propter gloriam nominis tui, Domine, libera nos,
et propitius esto peccatis nostris propter nomen tuum.

Tract at Mass on Ash Wednesday

Help us, God our salvation,
and for the glory of your name, Lord, free us,
and be forgiving of our sins for your name.


The Brabant Ensemble conducted by Stephen Rice.

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