Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Virgo salutiferi

In 1503 Duke Ercole I of Ferrara overruled his advisers and employed Josquin as maestro di cappella they’d advised him to hire Heinrich Isaac instead of Josquin because he was easier to get on with, was more companionable, far less inclined to make a fuss about composing on demand, and last but by no means…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Audivi vocem de caelo

Taverner’s setting of this responsory takes its text from Matthew 25: 4-6. At first sight it’s a standard alternatim setting in which the chant alternates with polyphony in which it can also be heard as a cantus firmus but its original scoring is somewhat unusual in that it was originally scored for high voices only…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Vexilia Regis (more hispano)

In Tomás Luis de Victoria’s time Venantius Fortunatus’  hymn Vexilla Regis with its strong connection with the cross was sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday which coincides with Palm Sunday through to Good Friday. Victoria’s setting was published in the Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae which he published in 1585. In the original printing de Victoria described…

Nicolas Gombert (±1495-±1560): Musae Jovis

Nicolas Gombert’s  "Deploration on the death of Josquin Desprez" is a motet-chanson set in the Phrygian mode. You may sometimes see it referred to as an Ars combinatoria composition which means quite simply that a secular text is combined with a Latin cantus firmus sung by one of the tenor voices in long drawn out…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria

We know very little about Sheppard’s life (and much of what we ‘knew’ turns out to be wrong) but his contemporaries and later generations of musicians fully recognised his importance more than 40 years after his death Thomas Morley praised his music.  His Latin works mostly date from the reigns of Henry VII and Mary…

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611): Veni Creator Spiritus

Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Creator Spirit) is a hymn prescribed for second Vespers on Whit Sunday it’s very old dating to at least the eight century and is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856) and is now sung at Vespers, Pentecost, Dedication of  Churches and Chapels, Confirmation, Ordination of priests and bishops and any other liturgical…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 1521): Missa Pange Lingua

Josquin’s Mass setting Missa Pange Lingua is based upon the melody of Pange Lingua, Aquinas’s adaptation of Venantius Fortunatus’ hymn for Corpus Christi. It’s a remarkable piece of music, composed when Josquin was at the height of his power. It’s both a cantus firmus Mass and a paraphrase setting, cantus firmus because Josquin uses the…

Pange Lingua

Pange Lingua or Pange Lingua Gloriosi Corporis Mysterium to give it its full title is a hymn by Aquinas written for the Feast of Corpus Christi  that is also sung during Holy Thursday. When the last two stanza are sung separately at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament it is called Tantum Ergo. It’s been…

Hans Leo Hassler (1562-1612): Ad Dominum

Hassler was very influential in his day both Bach (O Haput voll Blut und Wunde) and Schütz (Psalmen Davids) quoted his music. The son of a stonecutter and part time musician in Nuremburg he was sent to Venice to study music and composition. In Venice he came under the influence of the Gabrieli’s  studying under…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450-1521): O virgo virginium

I’ve written about the great ‘O’ antiphons frequently, or to be more precise I’ve written about seven of them. These are the seven antiphons that are sung in the week before Christmas starting with ‘O Sapientia’ and concluding ón December 23rd with ‘O Emmanuel’  most people think that these seven antiphons – the ‘Great Antiphons’…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Libera nos, salva nos I

Although the text of Libera nos, salva nos is from the first antiphon at Matins on Trinity Sunday its  plea to to the Holy Trinity for freedom, redemption, and absolution is so general in tone that Sheppard’s setting which most probably dates from his time at Magdalen College, Oxford was used on other occasions not…