Friday, July 27, 2012

Des Prez' Domine, non secundum

This is from the post at SC:

Of all his music it's Josquin Desprez' motets that I find the most intriguing and satisfying. This particular motet is one those published by Ottaviano Petrucci in 1503 in his anthology of sacred motets »Motetti de Passione, de Cruce, de Sacramento, de Beata Virgine et huiusmodi B«. Petrucci included several motets by Josquin in his anthology of which Domine, non secundum is the most elaborate. At first it was thought by musicologists that Josquin composed it in his youth in Milan. However the conventional wisdom now is that in fact he composed it sometime between 1489 and 1495 while he was a singer in the papal choir.

It's based upon plainchant and is relatively florid with the chant's influence being especially keenly felt in the top line. Part of the motet's appeal is how Josquin progressively simplifies the music as the motet progresses – it starts relatively elaborately with a duet for the top voices which Josquin contrasts with a duet for the lower voices. For me the musical highpoint of the motet is at the line 'Quia paupers facti sumus nimis' (Because we beggars have become as nothing) followed a gentle let-down as Josquin ends the motet. It's performed in the music video below by Edward Wickham & The Clerks Group. Enjoy :-)

Domine, non secundum is the Tract for Ash Wednesday (and is also listed as being used at Ember Friday in that week). Here are the words in Latin, with translation to English from CPDL:
Domine, non secundum peccata nostra, quæ fecimus nos: neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.
Domine, ne memineris iniquitatum patrum nostrorum, cito anticipent nos misericordiæ tuæ, quia pauperes facti sumus nimis.
Adiuvanos, Deus salutaris nostri, propter gloriam nominis tui et liberanos; et propitius esto peccatis nostris propter nomen tuum.

Lord, do not repay us according to our sins or our iniquities.
Lord, do not hold our old sins against us;
may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.
Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name;
Lord, deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake.

The Brazilian Benedictines have recorded the plainchant of the tract, but I couldn't find it anywhere else. Here's their mp3, and below is the chant score.

Others have set the text as well. Here's a lovely version from Spain's Juan de Anchieta:

And here, the Warsaw Boys Choir sings Cesar Franck's setting:

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