Robert White (±1538-1574): Magnificat

When Morley, was writing his A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke (1597) he listed White as one of the greatest English composers saying that he was equal to de Lassus and included him in a list of seven eminent Tudor composers that included "Fayrfax, Taverner, Sheppard, Whyte, Parsons and Mr Byrd." Whenever I…

Cipriano de Rore (c1515-1565): Fratres: Scitote

The second of two five-part motets by De Rore that take their text from the writings of St. Paul  Fratres: Scitote  (Brothers: Know this) sets 1 Corinthians 11: 23-24  in which Paul recounts how during the Last Supper Jesus instituted Holy Communion by taking bread, blessing it, and distributing it. The motet is a bit…

William Byrd (±1539-1623): O gloriosa Domina

O Gloriosa Domina is the second half of the hymn Quem terra, pontus, aethera composed by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609), Bishop of Poitiers. Both were sung during the Little Office of The Virgin which, as I wrote on May 16th, 2016 in my posting on Quem terra, pontus, aethera remained wildly popular with Catholics during Byrd’s…

John Taverner (±1490–1545): Te Deum

The Te Deum is a very ancient hymn that was sung at the end of Matins on Sundays and major feasts, it was also sung on special occasions of rejoicing or thanksgiving. Because of its length composers in Taverner’s time generally treated it the same way they would treat a psalm as an alternatim setting…

Jacquet de Mantua (1483 -1559): O pulcherrima inter mulieres

This three-part (SSA) motet is one of a collection of motets entitled Motetta trium vocum for three voices  by several composers1 including Jacquet de Mantua published in Venice in 1543 by Antonio Gardano. It’s a bitter-sweet setting whose text using imagery from the Song of Songs reflects the emotional anguish that can be caused by…

Peter Philips (±1560-1628): O quam suavis

This is the second of two settings by Philips of O quam suavis the Magnificat Antiphon for First Vespers on the Feast of Corpus Christi, it’s an eight-part (SATB.SATB) setting  and was published in the 1613 in the first edition of his Cantiones sacrae octonis vocibus. The setting is a bit unusual in that he…

Antoine Brumel (±1460 — ±1513): Sicut lilium inter spinas

His contemporaries ranked Brumel’s music highly comparing him favourably with both Josquin and Ockeghem. His four-part (SATB or ATTB) setting of Sicut lilium inter spinas (As the lily among thorns) Song of Solomon 2: 2 which at that time was the Antiphon for Matins of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite typical…

Luca Marenzio (±1554 – 1599): O Rex gloriae

Luca Marenzio, better known for his madrigals than his sacred music although he did produce one book of sacred madrigals his Motectorum pro festis totius anni in 1585 from which this setting of  O Rex gloriae (O King of glory) the Antiphon to the Magnificat for Second Vespers at Ascension comes. It’s a four-part setting…

Jacquet of Mantua (1483-1559): Ave Maria

Jacquet of Mantua was born Jacques Colebault in Vitré, Brittany, in 148 he’s referred to as Jacquet of Mantua to distinguish him from another composer Jacquet de Berchem. He was yet another northerner who went south to Italy where he worked for a variety of patrons amongst the Rangoni of Modena, the Estes, until in…

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…