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Amiens 162 D, ff. 16v-17v »Creator omnium rerum, deus« 3v

Notation: Entered by Hand A on staff system 1 in a semi-mensural square notation, which is supplemented with white minimae (minimae appear in the contratenor only). Red initials in superius and contratenor, black/yellow in the tenor, emphasis in the text in yellow colour.

Disposition of parts: “Tenor” is on ff. 16v-17 written across the opening below the upper parts, [Superius] stands on the left hand page, “Contratenor” on the right; on f. 17v the voices stand below each other in the order: [Superius] - Contratenor - Tenor.

Edition: Amiens 162 Edition no. 4 (PDF).

Text: A very widely circulated versus for the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna” (Officium defunctorum, Ad matutinum, In tertio nocturno, Lectio nona), cf. Knud Ottosen, The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Aarhus 1993, V 38, p. 405. Ottosen finds the versus in 465 sources, among these in 461 as a versus for “Libera me”. The text is published online in two facsimile sources, which can be dated in the 15th century and c 1470 respectively, and both following the Sarum Use, The Burnet Psalter, Aberdeen University Library MS 25, ff. 277-277v, and Horæ ad usum Sarum (The Bohun Hours), Copenhagen, the Royal Library, MS Thott 547 4°, f. 59; see also AH 49, p. 385.

Creator omnium rerum, deus,
qui me de limo terre formasti
et mirabiliter proprio sanguine redemisti,
corpusque meum licet modo putrescat,
de sepulcro facies in die iudicii resuscitari.

Exaudi, exaudi, exaudi me,
ut animam meam in sinu Abrahe,
patriarche tui, iubeas collocari.



An ‘enlivened’ note-against-note setting in simple polyphony of the liturgical tune, which is placed in the lowest voice, the “Tenor”. The tune can be found in Dom André Mocquereau (ed.), Le codex F 160 de la Bibliothèque de la cathedrale de Worchester. Antiphonaire monastique (XIIIe siècle). (Paléographie Musicale XII) Tournai 1922-25, p. 439, as a versus in the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna”; some small differences appear in the Amiens version, especially in the later parts of the two sections. The setting is stylistically close to the later added three-part setting in Amiens 162 of »O salutaris hostia«, f. 1v (cf. the comments there), but it shows a more developed awareness of contemporary music for prayers. The superius functions as a counter voice against the tenor in mainly contrary motion; parallel perfect consonances are avoided, while several parallel sixths can be found. The contratenor is placed between superius and tenor, but crosses occasionally below the tenor (bars 10-12 for a longer passage, but otherwise mostly for the duration of a single note), and it is often placed a fourth below the superius. The ranges of the voices are clearly differentiated (superius, a-g’; Contratenor, d-e’; Tenor, A-b). The steady progress of the chant notation in superius and tenor has been softened by syncopations and passing notes in white minimae in the contratenor, which contribute to some tension and forward drive in the music, see for example bars 14-18. This shows that the composer did have some awareness of the different roles of the voices in polyphonic music. The second section opens in exclamations “Exaudi, exaudi, exaudi me” set with fermatas on all notes to emphasize the personal address. The setting’s roots are in simple polyphony, but this is far from primitive music. It is precisely adapted to the tone of the occasion, for funerals and memorial services.

The liturgical tune is also set in the incomplete, anonymous motet-chanson “Hors de propos / Creator omnium rerum” preserved in the French music manuscript, Copenhagen 1848, written at Lyons 1520-1525, pp. 198-99 (no. 129), where it is sung in the bassus in tranquil note values (cf. Christoffersen 1994, Vols. I, p. 165, II, p. 109, and III, p. 44 (edition)).

PWCH March 2014