We continue today our perusal of the sacred repertoire of Guillaume Du Fay, with his Lamentation for the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople.
The Fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the forces of the Muslim Turks struck at the hearts of all Christendom, even in the West of Europe. The Church of Constantinople was of very ancient origin and had been one of the principle 5 Patriarchates of the Early Church. Following the capture of the city by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, Latin Patriarchs governed the city for many decades. So there was intimate knowledge of the city among many travelers and nobility in Western Europe.
And thus, following the capture of the City by the infidels, there was widespread lamentation throughout Europe, even in Catholic Churches. Thus, the origin of this piece.
For the text and an English translation of the lyrics of this touching lament, see the YouTube page for this video, which the author has illustrated in a beautiful manner with images of what Constantinople looked like under Christian rule.
This week we peruse the repertoire of Sacred Music from the 15th century. We begin with this piece by Guillaume Du Fay, his, Missa Ecce ancilla Domini, written in honor of Our Lady.
Du fay had a colorful life. Born as a bastard of a priest at Cambrai (now France); he was raised by his mother and, having shown exceptional musical talent, received the help of many clerics who gave him an excellent musical formation. He obtained a benefice as a chaplain at the age of 16, at Cambrai, traveled to Contanz for the Ecumenical Council held there 1415-1418. Returning to Cambrai, he was made a subdeacon at the Cathedral, where he served two years. Then he spent four years traveling in Italy and working as a musician for the Nobility. Worn out by travels he returned home for two years, beginning in 1426.
He then traveled to Bologna, in Italy, and was taken under the patronage of Cardinal Louis Aleman, the papal legal. He was ordained a deacon, and then a priest at Bologna. He fled Bologna in 1428, when it rebelled against the Pope, and went to Rome where he entered the service of Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. There he became the most famous musician in Europe of his time. When the forces of Conciliarists drove Pope Eugene from Rome and set up a temporary republic, he accepted invitations to courts from all over Europe.
He was the court composer for the Duke of Savoy in 1434, and returned to the service of Pope Eugene IV at Florence in 1435. When the schismatic Council of Basel deposed Pope Eugene IV, he fled to Turin and got a degree in law and then returned home to Cambrai, where he obtained a position as Canon of the Cathedral in 1440.
From 1452 he traveled Italy seeking the patronage of the Nobility, writing and composing music to pay his way. In his final years, he returned to and remained at Cambrai, where his fame drew students of music and composers from all of Europe to collaborate with him. He completely revised the musical books used by the Cathedral and set in motion the rise of sacred polyphony for the next generation.
He died on Nov. 27, 1470, and as he passed requested that his motet, Ave Regina Caelorum be sung. Thus died a great servant of Our Lady and the Church.
As we continue our perusal of Sacred Music, we turn to Guillaume de Machaut, the first known composer to write music for the entire Ordinary of the Mass. In this piece, entitled, Messe de Nostre Dame, he has dedicated his polyphonic composition with intrumental obbligato to Our Lady.
This mass was written during the reign of Pope Urban V, when Charles V was King of France.
It’s similarities with Gregorian Chant are undeniable, but clearly he has incorporated the style of singing for secular pieces into his work. This Mass was written before 1365 A.D., that is, just a few years after the Black Death had ravaged the continent and killed more than a third of the population. This might explain why he has a secular style of singing in this piece, because the monasteries had been emptied of choir monks. Read more about this mass, here.
FromRome.Info features a differing piece of Sacred Music from the treasure of Catholic History, each day at 5 P.M., Rome time, to edify our readers in the wonders and beauty of Catholic music throughout the ages.
As we conclude our perusal of sacred music from the repertoire of Josquin des Prés, we feature, for Our Lady’s Day of Saturday, his Ave Maria, From a performance in St John Cantius Church, August 2017.
Today, as we continue our perusal of Josquin des Prés’ sacred repertoire, we feature his Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales, which he based on the popular secular chanson L’homme armé, which was the inspiration for more than 40 Masses from 1450 to 1500 A. D.. This mass was written for the ordinary, that is, it can be sung on any day, since it does not include the propers of any day in the liturgical calendar.
There are diverse opinions among scholars as to whom or what the popular melody referred: soldiers fallen at the capture of Constantinople in 1453, Saint Michael the Archangel, Crusaders, or all Military men fallen in battle.
This piece was written sometime between 1492 and 1495 A. D. You can read some excellent historical notes about the piece, in Italian, here.
FromRome.Info is featuring a post on Sacred Music at 5 PM each day, to edify our readers and expand their knowledge of the glories and treasures of the Catholic Faith throughout the Ages.
Continuing our perusal of the Sacred Repertoire of Josquin des Prés, we feature today his Missa Hercules Dux Ferrariae, which he composed most probably 1484 to 1486, when he was likely at the court of the Ercole, Duke of Ferrara.
This mass was the first of its kind, for its use of soggetto cavato, a technique for forming a cantus firmus based on the letters of notes in the name of the Noble Patron of the work.
The piece was written to be performed at any non festive occasion. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the Duke of Ferrara, who was a great patron of music, and whose patronage led historically to what we know today as Italian Opera, for this magnificent piece.
FromRome.Info is publishing examples of Sacred Music at 5 PM Rome time daily, to educate Catholics everywhere as to the riches of musical art inspired by our Holy Faith and created throughout the ages in testament and honor to the Divine Majesty.
This week we are featuring a collection of Sacred Music from the repertoire of one of he great vocal composers of the age of Christopher Columbus, to show that the pre-Reformational Church was by no means bereft of things Sacred and was ornamented by great appreciation of both art and music, a thing which the monstrous reformers destroyed in large parts of Europe.
In this composition, Josquin des Prés puts to music the famous Marian Hymn, Ave maris stella, which was chanted during the Divine Office on Marian Feasts, on First Vespers etc.. Here, Josquin has worked the theme into an entire Mass. This Mass is by far one of his most beautiful compositions, even to having converted pagans to Catholicism. Here we hear the entire composition for 6 voices. FromRome.Info strongly recommends you acquire a copy of this production for your home library.
These posts on Sacred Music will appear daily at 5 pm Rome time and at 11 AM New York City time, or at 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.
This week as we peruse the repertoire of Josquin des Prés, one of the great polyphonic composers for voice at the turn of the 16th century, we feature one of his great Marian masterpieces.
In this musical composition of Bl. Thomas of Celano, O.Min., Marian Hymn for Lent, Stabat Mater, Josquin des Prés shows what polyphony can do to express the sorrows of Our Lady during the Passion of Our Lord. This Hymn was sung both during the Mass and the Divine Office in ancient times.
These posts on Sacred Music will appear daily at 5 pm Rome time and at 11 AM New York City time, or at 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.
We continue our review of the Sacred Repertoire of Josquin de Prés, for the edification and religious and cultural education of our readers, with this performance of his Salve Regina, which was customarily sung at the end of Compline, the last hour of the Divine Office, from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Saturday before Advent.
These music videos will be published daily at 5 pm Rome Time, 11 AM New York city time, and 3 AM Sydney, Australia, time.
Part and parcel of remaining a faithful Catholic, is learning to appreciate the treasures with which our Holy Faith has been enriched throughout the centuries by Faithful Catholics. Josquin de Prés, court composer for the Popes, was one of the first to experiment with polyphony. He lived and flourished at about the time of Christopher Columbus. In this beautiful but short piece, written for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Choir sings a capella, that is in the style of the Sistine Chapel, without instrumental accompaniment. The piece, Miserere mei Deus, is one of the penitential psalms.
The fundamental principles of the Code affirm the liturgical traditions of the Church and require that the code be understood as such.
We can see this from Canon 2, which reads in Latin:
Can. 2 — Codex plerumque non definit ritus, qui in actionibus liturgicis celebrandis sunt servandi; quare leges liturgicae hucusque vigentes vim suam retinent, nisi earum aliqua Codicis canonibus sit contraria.
Which in English translation says:
Canon 2 : The Code does not for the most part define the rites, which are to be observed in celebrating liturgical actions: on which account the liturgical laws in force up to now retain their vigor, unless any of them be contrary to any of the canons of the Code.
Here the determinative term in the Code is “liturgical laws” (leges liturgicae). In the Roman Rite, as has been observed by many: the new form of the mass, the Novus Ordo, had been celebrated for 13 years at the time the new Code of Canon Law was promulgated in 1983. As such it had not yet obtained any force of law by mere custom, which requires 30 years (canon 26). It also had not the support of a papal law, since Pope Paul VI in 1969, when publishing the decree, Missale Romanum, neglected to give the new form of the mass the force of law, leaving only minor aspects of the Missale to be determined by his decree and significantly — by the Hand of God — leaving unsaid in a legal act his will that it be imposed or become law (cf. canon 37).
Hence, canon 2, must be read as requiring the decree, Missale Romanum of St Pius V, to remain in force, since it was the principle liturgical law still enforce at the time the new Code was promulgated. We see this affirmed in part by the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, of his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, which says the ancient liturgy was never abrogated. Those who argue, that that same decree gave force of law to the new liturgy, have little to argue upon, since in it Pope Benedict limited himself to affirming the facts of law, not in promulgating new ones. That he recites a history of liturgical innovations since the reign of Pope John XXIII determines nothing, because a narrative is not a law or legal decree.
In this, we see that Pope Benedict XVI was simply manifesting the intent of John Paul II in promulgating the Code. The authentic meaning is for tradition, and all other canons need to be read in that light, in virtue of canon 17, which as has been often said here at the From Rome blog, requires that all canons need to be read in the light of canonical tradition and the mind of the legislator and their proper senses. Since the liturgical innovations of Paul VI were not yet law or customary law in 1983, they cannot be appealed to in the reading of any canon in the present code, and those who do so are violating canons 2 and 17.
Finally, the most important thing to remember, when there arises any controversy over the liturgy at the canonical level, is that the context of the New Code approves the Ancient Liturgy. Never cede to the revolutionaries or those duped by the practice of putting praxis above law and custom, that the New Code upholds the innovations.
For example, let’s apply canon 2 and 17 to the reading of canon 938, which reads:
Can. 938 — § 1. Sanctissima Eucharistia habitualiter in uno tantum ecclesiae vel oratorii tabernaculo asservetur.
§ 2. Tabernaculum, in quo sanctissima Eucharistia asservatur, situm sit in aliqua ecclesiae vel oratorii parte insigni, conspicua, decore ornata, ad orationem apta.
§ 3. Tabernaculum, in quo habitualiter sanctissima Eucharistia asservatur, sit inamovibile, materia solida non transparenti confectum, et ita clausum ut quam maxime periculum profanationis vitetur.
§ 4. Gravi de causa, licet sanctissimam Eucharistiam, nocturno praesertim tempore, alio in loco tutiore et decoro asservare.
§ 5. Qui ecclesiae vel oratorii curam habet, prospiciat ut clavis tabernaculi, in quo sanctissima Eucharistia asservatur, diligentissime custodiatur.
And in English says:
Canon 938: §1 Let the Most Holy Eucharist be habitually reserved in only one tabernacle of the church and/or oratory.
§2. Let the tabernacle, in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, be situated in some conspicuous, fittingly ornate part of the church and/or special oratory, (which is) apt for praying.
§3 Let the tabernacle, in which the Most Holy Eucharist is habitually reserved, be immovable, constructed of non transparent solid material, and so closed that the danger or profanation be most of all prohibited.
§4 For grave cause, it is licit to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist, especially at night time, in some safer and decorous place.
§5 Let he who has the care of the church and/or oratory, take care that the key to the tabernacle, in which the Most Holy Eucharist be reserved, be most diligently guarded.
Now let us examine this Canon carefully to understand what it means and does not mean.
First of all it speaks of two kinds of tabernacles, those in which the Sacrament is kept (nn. 1-5) and those in which it is kept habitually (nn. 1,3, 4). Thus it does not require that there only be one tabernacle as many have been told it means. It only requires that for the most part, the tabernacle in which the Sacrament is habitually kept, be one. What does this mean? It means, that there should be numerically only one tabernacle in which the Sacrament is kept 24/7. However, there can be other tabernacles where the Sacrament is kept for a time, which is apt for praying (ad orationem). Here the Code uses the classical Latin term for liturgical prayer, orare, and thus signifies the Mass and any other liturgical service. But for security, another tabernacle at night time, in a more secure place can be had. So from this canon we can see at least 3 kinds of tabernacles are approved. The one for liturgical prayer, the one for habitual reservation, and the one for night time security.
Now, if we read this canon in the light of canon 2 and canon 17, which require us to understand it in continuity with liturgical and canonical tradition, we can see that it in no way at all abolishes the usage which was common for centuries of having a tabernacle on every altar (ad orationem), a tabernacle for principle reservation of the Sacrament and a tabernacle in a secure place, such as the Sacristy, for security.
In fact, when one recalls that Pope Pius XII magisterially taught that to separate the tabernacle from the altar would be an error,* we can see from canon 17, that canon 938 must be understood to include the obligation that at least the tabernacle for prayer (ad orationem) be situated upon an altar. That means, that in § 2 of Canon 938 it is requiring that it be upon an altar. And that canon 2 and canon 938 §2 is allowing it also to be upon the High Altar and every altar where public prayer is offered (ad orationem), since there is no greater praying that at the Altar where the Mass be offered.
Thus this canon in no way causes or requires that other tabernacles not be used or be removed. And if anyone order that a contrary practice be executed, then the subject receiving such an order has the right to refuse its execution. If the order be given verbally and not in writing, then the subject can refuse to comply on the grounds of canon 40, which makes all compliance invalid prior to receiving the administrative act in written form. He may, but is not required, then ask that a rescript first be granted (canon 60) codifying in written form and a legal act the order. If the order be given in writing or by rescript, then if the written act does not contain reference to a grant of authority (to the one commanding) to derogate from canon 2, 17 or 938, then the one receiving the written command can refuse it on the grounds of canon 41 and 38, namely, that such an act is nullified in virtue of canon 38, because it runs contrary to the law of canon 938, and that thus in virtue of canon 41 the one receiving such a command can omit its execution.
* Pius XII, Allocutio, Assisi, Sept 22, 1956: “To separate tabernacle from altar is to separate two things which by their origin and nature should remain united.” (complete text here in PDF)