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Amiens 162 D, f. 2 »Da pacem, domine« 3v [Alexander Agricola]

Notation: Entered by Hand D in white mensural notation on five-line staves. The page was originally blank and the staves were drawn in with the staff system 1 on f. 2v as guidelines; its lines were clearly visible through the parchment. Red initials and light brown ink in text and music.

As was the case on p. 1, all the music in the superius and bassus was erased after the first attempt at copying it, because the scribe could not coordinate music and text in a satisfactory way. His exemplar had probably a text incipit only in the lowest voice, so to begin with he copied the text distribution belonging to the superius below the bassus – the positions of the words are nearly identical. His second try is very carefully executed with precise and regular lozenge-shaped note heads and vertical stems and nearly without new errors, but also without really succeeding in getting music and words to cooperate.

The tenor is notated in a most curious way. It begins in straight white breves (bb. 1-13). When the first semibreves appear (bb. 14 ff), they are written as black breves, they are intermingled by shorter values in normal white mensural notation (minimae), and they are combined in ligatures without the c.o.p.-upwards stems. In this way the tenor tune got a little likeness with the chant notation (but quite schizophrenic!) after which the scribe had sung it for years.

On top of the page Antoine de Caulaincourt has written “DE CAULAINCOURT”. He may very well be the owner of Hand D.

Disposition of parts: [Superius]-[Tenor]-[Bassus] below each other.


Copenhagen 1848 p. 365 (ns. 199) »Da pacem domine« · Facsimile
Copenhagen 1848 p. 435 (no. 265) »Da pacem domine« · Facsimile
*London 35087 ff. 39v-40 »Da pacem domine« Agricola PDF
*Paris 1597 ff. 3v-4 »Da pacem domine« PDF · Facsimile

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 20 (PDF); Agricola 1970, Vol. IV p. 47.

Text: Antiphon, Antiphona pro Pace, AR p. 144* for Lauds and Vespers:

Da pacem, domine,
in diebus nostris
quia non est alius
qui pugnet pro nobis
nisi tu, deus noster.


Motet with the antiphon tune as cantus prius factus in the tenor. Superius and bassus are lively counter voices with a hint of unison canon at the beginning of the bassus. It is found in slightly divergent versions in three other MSS from the first quarter of the 16th century.

The exemplar the scribe used was very similar to the version of the motet found in the Flemish MS, London, British Library, Add. 35087, which attributes the motet to Alexander Agricola (see the edition). Its notes have much of the same visual appearance as those in Amiens 162, and they both have an error in common in the bassus in bar 35.1, which indicates a common ancestor. More important, they share an inconvenient text underlay in the upper voice, which puts too many words under the first phrase (“Da pacem ... alius” in bars 1-17). This forces the professional scribe of London 35087 to put in word repetitions in both superius and tenor. A ‘normal’ text distribution, which is much easier to perform, can be found in MS Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1597 (see the edition); the youngest source, Copenhagen 1848, does not have more than text incipits in any of its versions.

The changes of the notation in the tenor were surely the effort of the scribe of Amiens 162 who probably had a restricted knowledge of mensural notation. In bars 21-22, for example, he has changed the oblique ligature (brevis-brevis) into two ligated square white breves (meaning longa-longa), which does not make any difference in chant notation, but in a mensural reading it doubles the values.

PWCH January 2014, revised June 2015