Dunkeld Music Book: Chapter 3

Chapter 3
The Anonymous motets

Certon: Pater noster and Anon: Ave Maria

Besides the two (almost) complete Mass settings in Eu 64 there are two ‘motets’ which were not ascribed in Elliott’s article (1964, p. 229) on the manuscript: Ave Maria for 2 voices and Te sanctum Dominum for 7 [8] voices.

In addition to the 6vv Pater noster listed amongst Certon’s works by Aimé Agnel (1980, p. 81) there is also an Ave Maria for 3 voices. At first sight it might be thought that the two extant parts in Eu 64 are what remains of this 3-voice Ave Maria. Since all the works by Claudin, Certon and Lupi in the Edinburgh manuscript are taken from the first few items of their respective Attaingnant prints, this 3-voice motet (listed as item 22 in Heartz, 1969, p. 318) might have been overlooked by Elliott (1964, p. 229).

Having transcribed the three parts of the Pater noster and the two extant parts of the Ave Maria it has become evident that the Pater noster is a bi-textual work in which three of the voices (I, III and V) set the Oratio Dominica, the two remaining parts (II and IV) setting the Hail Mary. Since the odd-numberered voices are the Pater noster, and the extant even-numbered voices the Ave Maria, it might be assumed that voice VI also sets the Marian text. However, Heartz (1969, p. 317) informs us that the first of the motets in Attaingnant’s print of Certon’s works [15422] is

1. Pater noster qui es in caelis [à6]
Quinta & Sexta Pars: Ave Maria gratia plena [Canon: 2 in 1]
determining that the missing part sets the Pater noster. It is evident also that Certon is proving his skills in various compositional techniques, in writing for six voices based on two chant melodies, the second of which is in canon.

The Attaingnant catalogue item also tells us something new about the part distribution in Eu 64. Elliott (1964, p. 228) has referred to the volumes in the manuscript as being II, III, V, IV, I respectively, with VI missing. It now looks as though these should read Q, A, B, T, C[antus], [6], with the volumes in descending order of vocal range reading C, Q, A, T, B, 6.

If a modern edition of Certon’s Pater noster/Ave Maria were to be prepared, in contrast to the anonymous, incomplete 8-voice Te sanctum Dominum, we have extant exemplars from which to prepare it, since complete sets of the Attaingnant prints of 15421, 15422, and 15423 (Claudin, Certon, and Lupi respectively) are located in the Vatican (I-Rvat 243, I-III) and Vienna (A-Wn SA 78.C.1/Lib. 1-3). The Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (F-Pn Rés. Vm1 139-141) has all three partbooks preserved in a 16th-century binding, together with two other Superius partbooks in the same format (Heartz 1969, p. 316).

Whereas there are a number of settings of Pater noster/Ave Maria, notably by Josquin and Willaert, in which the Prima pars is a setting of the Lord’s Prayer, whilst the Secunda pars treats the salutation of Mary, the setting in Eu 64 is unusual in treating both texts together. Although bi-textual settings in themselves are not uncommon, usually the second text is in only one of the parts. Examples of this can be found in Josquin’s Déploration Nymphes des bois in which the tenor is the chant Requiem aeterna eis, Domine, and in Infelix ego by Willaert in which voice IV sets the words ‘miserere mei Domine’. Other works in which a second text is set either as a canon or ostinato include Tota pulchra es in GB-Lbl Roy. 8. g. vii.

It is difficult to conceive of a liturgical occasion in which this bi-textual motet could be sung; perhaps the composition was simply the expression of an art-form rather than an act of service for the Church, inspired by the juxtaposition of prayers known by heart and recited by simple folk requiring little knowledge or understanding of more complex texts.

Anon: Te Sanctum Dominum

This eight-voice motet is in two sections corresponding to the form aBcB—i.e. that of a responsory—with the text:

Te sanctum dominum in excelsis Laudant omnes angeli atque archangeli dicentes Te decet laus et honor domine. Cherubin quoque ac Seraphin Sanctus proclamant Et omnes celitus ordo dicentes Te decet laus et honor domine.

This text, which appears to be based on the hymn Te Deum laudamus, is centonate: its latin is fairly basic, and gives the impression of being constructed from phrases derived from different parts of the liturgy. ‘Te decet laus’ appears in the Antiphonale Monasticum as part of a four-line acclamation for the end of Vigils/Matins when a Gospel was read. As a conclusion for prayers it has Greek resonances and seems to have originated, or at least was first mentioned, in the Apostolic Constitutions of the 4th century. The text has an interesting parallel with the conclusion of the Sarum proper preface ‘On Trinity and in the Sunday Mass on all the following Sundays until Advent; also on commemorations of the Trinity and in the wedding Mass’ (Sandon 1990, p. 27):

…Quam laudant angeli atque archangeli, cherubin quoque seraphin: qui non cessant clamare una voce dicentes. (Sanctus…)

This post-Gelasian preface form would have been widely known by clerics in the Middle Ages.

Table 4 below shows a juxtaposition of these two texts in which we can see common words and phrases—exact matches are in bold italic type, very similar words are in italic type.

Table 4
Comparison of texts: Te sanctum Dominum and Sarum Preface of the Trinity

Te sanctum dominum (Eu 64) Preface for Trinity (Sarum Use) Te Vere dignum et iustum est…tibi… sanctum dominum …domine sancte pater omnipotens eterne deus…. in excelsis Quam Laudant omnes laudant angeli atque archangeli angeli atque archangeli dicentes Te decet laus et honor domine. Cherubin quoque ac Seraphin Cherubin quoque ac Seraphin Sanctus proclamant qui non cessant clamare una voce Et omnes celitus ordo dicentes dicentes Te decet laus et honor domine. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus sabaoth. Pleni sunt celi et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Osanna in excelsis.

Date and Provenance of Te sanctum Dominum

As we have seen, the Sarum rite was used in pre-Reformation Scotland as well as by her Southern neighbour. Was this well-known, since often-used, preface conclusion the inspiration for a locally-composed motet or is it more likely to have come from the Continent? Internal evidence suggests a mid-16th century Continental date and provenance. Double imitation, otherwise known as ‘head & tail’ imitation, is used, including employment of the ‘tail’ by voice VI only near the beginning (bar 7 of attached edition) a technique we do not see employed in England until late Tallis or Byrd. The escape-note figure, found e.g. in Tenor 2, bar 17 and Cantus 1, bars 18-19, indicates a pre-Palestrina dating.

Perhaps contrary to this, however, is the possible use of mi contra fa in e.g. bars 26, 28, 34, 47, 51, 56, 61, 69 which provides a fertile ground for the use of the so-called English cadence, which might suggest an English provenance. This technical device, however, is not as exclusive to England as was originally thought, as there are a number of Continental works featuring this figure, including the Agnus from Duarte Lobo’s Missa Pro Defunctis. The Mass Felix namque includes instances of this formula in Kyrie, bar 14, Sanctus, bar 7, Agnus, bar 123 (in MB xv). This use of the ‘English cadence’, combined with the occasional Eb which necessitates other flattened Es results in a considerably more colourful piece than first envisaged. See the editorial policy for more discussion of the mode of this piece.

Perhaps the work is a Scottish emulation of its immediate neighbour in the partbooks, Johannes Lupi’s Salve celeberrima virgo, combining Continental imitative techniques with the ‘English cadence’ figure. The manuscript has so many errors, including missing rests and note stems, that it is hard to see how it could have been used for performance.

Another possibility is that it is of Continental provenance roughly copied, like the copies from the Attaingnant prints, in France, before a fair copy was made in Scotland. A likely candidate for authorship is Nicolas Gombert (c1495 - c1560) whose style includes the following features: syllabic phrases tapering off with a short melisma, a

fondness for cadences with the lowered seventh, the subsemitone being avoided by doubling the seventh in a lower voice. Gombert cadences more frequently than Lupi…a function of [Gombert’s] more motivic melodic style: his phrases are shorter than Lupi’s and are repeated more often (Blackburn, 1980, p. ix).
Also, his harmonic organization means that his works often strain the modal framework, and problems of musica ficta abound.

This is certainly true of Te sanctum Dominum. The mi contra fa rule appears to want to be broken here (at least to one who enjoys the ‘English cadence’ dissonance), and the application of musica ficta in order to resolve harmonic problems seems never-ending – this work strains conventional modal structures to the limit. Lugebat David Absalon, an eight-voice motet known to be by Gombert, exploits many of the above rhetorical features of insistent repetition and strong dissonance.

A feature of Gombert’s writing that is not consistent in Te sanctum Dominum is that of the employment of brief rests, but perhaps this is the exception that proves the rule.

It seems safe, then, to hazard a mid-century Continental provenance for Te sanctum Dominum; it could possibly have been composed by Gombert some time in the fourth or fifth decades of the sixteenth century.


28 Agnel (1980, p. 81) suggests that Certon may have had some connection with the Scottish contingent at the Paris court.
29 Liber Primus. Collectorum Modulorum. (qui Moteta vulgo dicuntur), (Paris: Du Chemin, 1553) and Liber Primus sex missas continens (Paris: Le Roy and Ballard, 1552). Nicholas du Chemin’s active music printing career was from 1549-68; composers represented in his portfolio include Goudimel, Costeley, Crereau, Colin, Manchicourt, Cadéac, Guyon, Jannequin, and, later, Cartier, Morel, Bersoy, Besancourt and A. de Villars. There has been no opportunity to discover the contents of these partbooks, which might possibly shed some light on the other anonyma.
30 Sandon (1990, p. 9) tells us that a (possibly erroneous) prescription in the printed Sarum Missal of 1489 (and many later editions) that Ave Maria should be said after—or interpolating—the Pater noster at the end of the Vesting and Prayers before Mass, is perhaps based on the juxtaposition of these two prayers at the beginning of the Offices.
31 Some voices (C1, A1 and B1) read ‘dicens’ in the 2nd parte.
32 Tournai, 1934 p. 1260f
33 The words 'dicentes' and 'in excelsis', although common to both texts, are probably not significant links. ‘Et omnes celitus ordo dicentes’ is not a preface text.

Some remaining research questions

Mass Jesu Christe
Why is the tenor (and only that part) written out in Eu64?
Why is it so different to that in the Forrest-Heyther manuscript that Bergasel dismissed this reading?
Is this reading from a different stemma to that in Forrest-Heyther?
How did it come to be in Eu64? Was Ashewell in Scotland with Margaret Tudor (for her marriage to James IV in 1513?)

What reasons did the 1695 University catalogue have for describing it as “Church Musick at Dunkell”?
How did the five extant partbooks get there?

Ave virgo gloriosa
Why is Jachet's setting “gratiosa” in CMM?
What's the difference in text between “Ave virgo gloriosa” and “Ave virgo gratiosa”?

Surge Petre
Text is composite: a conflation of several scriptural texts (Acts, Matt 16 etc.)
Do they appear in any other compositions with this name? Any chant?
If not, who compiled the text?


You can contact Alistair Warwick at:
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