Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Laudent Deum cithara

This four-part (SATB) setting of a paraphrase of the third and fourth verses of psalm 150 is both surprisingly brief and admirably concise. Faced with a list of musical instruments a lesser composer would most likely have produced something a lot more grandiose, not to say pompous than this quietly confident motet.  De Lassus gives…

Giaches de Wert (1535-96): Gaudete in Domino

De Wert is yet another one of the Flemish composers imported by the mid-to-late sixteenth century Italian aristocracy to sing and glorify God and themselves although not necessarily in that order. He worked in Northern Italy for most of his life and was tremendously influential both on his contemporaries and on future generations not least…

John Sheppard (±1515-1558): Æterne Rex altissime

The hymn Aeterne Rex altissime (Eternal king most high) is rather more than a thousand years old. It was first cited by the Saxon monk, theologian and poet  Gottschalk of Orbais (808 AD -867 AD) and included the 9th-century New Hymnal.  Sheppard’s setting would have been intended to be sung at Vespers on Ascension Day,…

Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474): Flos florum

The text Dufay’s Marian three-part (ATT) motet Flos FLorum is to be found in the Analecta hymnica medii aevi.  It’s a song motet which means firstly that Dufay composed the melody in its entirety making no reference to the chant, and secondly that unlike previous generations’ motets their form is neither inferred nor derived from…

Robert White (±1538-1574): Ad te levavi oculos meos

Maxima musarum nostrarum gloria White Tu peris aeternum sed tua musa manet. White, thou glorious leader of our art has died But thy muse lives on in eternity. (Robert Dow’s lament on the death of Robert White in the London plague outbreak of 1574). Robert White was born into a well-to-do family with many connections…

Guillaume Dufay (1397-1474): Veritas Mea

Over the weekend I listened to Dufay’s Missa de S Anthonii de Padua, at some point I’ll have to write about this extraordinary setting of the Mass. Dufay was particularly devoted to St. Anthony of Padua and his Missa de S Anthonii de Padua is remarkable both because of its extraordinary musical diversity and beauty…

Josquin Des Prez (±1450 – 1521): Planxit autem David

This is one of those pieces of music whose purpose and context are a mystery to us. The text is a slightly modified version of the biblical verses (2 Samuel 1: 17-27) in which David laments Saul and Jonathan so there’s no discernible liturgical connection. If it’s not liturgical then, given the nature of the…

Johannes Flamingus (fl 1565–73): Cibavit eos

There’s very little information available about this Flemish composer he’s known to have been active in Leiden and was among the copyists who produced the Leiden choirbooks in which some of his works including this setting of Introit for Corpus Christi can be found. His entry in Grove concludes by describing him as "an uneven…

John Dunstable (± 1390-1453): Beata Dei genitrix

The English guise they wear with grace They follow Dunstable aright, And thereby have they learned apace To make their music gay and bright. English composers had considerable influence in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance perhaps the most influential was Dunstable of whom Martin le Franc wrote that Guillaume Du Fay and Gilles Binchois,…

Francisco Guerrero ( 1528 – 1599): Prudentes virgines

Francisco Guerrero’s five-part motet Prudentes virgines (wise virgins) sets a text based on the Gospel parable of the ten virgins (the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins) it was first published in Venice in 1570.  Guerrero was greatly admired by his contemporaries not least Alonso Lobo who based his Missa Prudentes virgines upon Guerrero’s…

Francisco de Peñalosa (±1470-1528): Sacris Solemnis

This setting of Sacris solemnis is largely a reconstruction by Bruno Turner as only one verse of Peñalosa’s setting of  the Corpus Christi hymn is known to have survived. It’s an alternatim setting in which Peñalosa’s polyphony alternates with the catchy and popular Spanish melody for the hymn. Enjoy :-) mfi

Orlande de Lassus (±1530-1594): Osculetur me

De Lassus used this motet which takes its text from the Song of Songs as the basis for his Mass of the same name. It’s an eight-part setting for double choir (SATB SATB) first published in 1582 in Fasciculi aliquot sacrarum it’s characterise by long phrasing offset by contrapuntal writing and contrasting sonority between the…