Antonio Valente's Versi Spirituali - How Were They Used in the Liturgy?
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 33
    Are there any kind readers who can help explain how the 16th century works attached would have been used in the liturgy?

    Wikipedia suggests the versets were composed for use with the Divine Office and the Mass.

    There is of course no "instruction manual" telling us exactly how this music was used.

    Thank you!
  • Sr Cabezon -
    Are you related to the XVIth century Antonio de Cabezon, who, like your friend Antonio Valente, was blind from early childhood? He was court organist (musico da camera y capilla) to Phillip II. He traveled to England in Phillip's retinue during his marriage to Queen Mary and became good friends with Thomas Tallis. He, too, wrote versets for the Magnificat, similar to your Valente's.

    Just looking over the organ pieces you have presented, I note that there are six versets in each of the ecclesiastical tones (sopra tutte le notte). This is the number required for singing the Magnificat (or Benedictus) in alternatim fashion. Your pieces seem to be organ versets for singing the canticle at vespers or mattins in this way (organ and choir alternating verses). These are very beautiful pieces, each one a contrapuntal vignette. Thank you so much for sharing them!

    Just a few months ago we had another person asking about some similar organ pieces, except that (if I recall correctly) his pieces were brief organ intonations (intonazione) which served to establish the pitch.
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 33
    Thank you, that is very helpful to know.

    It goes to show how different our musical taste is these days. I don't know if I've ever heard an organist or choir playing instrumental versets before the Magnificat etc.

    Is there a musician or choir out there who can show us what this music would sound like when played with a real choir?
  • The double-CD recording Music for the Duke of Lerma by Paul McCreesh/Gabrieli Consort and Players features a couple of different usages.

    For certain psalms, the organ versets "sing" the verses in alternation with the chant or polyphony. For the Magnificat (recording below), the organ versets are played as interludes after every pair of sung polyphonic verses.
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 33
    No I'm not related to him, I am only an admirer as shown here:
  • Palestrina
    Posts: 364
    Cabezon, not merely a matter of changing tastes but changing legislation - Pius X forbade it in his 1904 encyclical. Dupre’s ‘Vespers’ therefore constituted a kind of custom contra legem.
  • Here's an example done at the Houston Co Cathedral with versets of the Magnificat.
  • ACabezon
    Posts: 33
    That is all very helpful, thank you, especially the sample clip from Houston. I've attended liturgical functions at some very "high" Mass locations and never heard an organ accompany the Magnificat this way. I guess we have Pius X to "thank" for that?