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8.554260 - OCKEGHEM: Requiem / Missa Prolationum
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Johannes Ockeghem (c. 1410-1497)
Missa Prolationum
Intemerata Dei Mater

Johannes Ockeghem – the lucid mystic

The death of the Franco-Flemish musician Johannes Ockeghem, one of the great composers of the fifteenth century, on 6th of February 1497 brought a stream of poems and laments in his honour. The greatest minds of his time, the poet Guillaume Cretin, the poet-composer Jean Molinet and even Erasmus of Rotterdam, wrote of Ockeghem in the highest tones. Erasmus had early expressed himself in less complimentary terms on the flourishing polyphony of church music, but on the old Flemish master, who was nearly ninety, he had to say. "Ergone conticuit / Vox illa nobilis / Aurea vox Okegi?" ("Is then silent / that noble voice / The golden voice of Ockeghem?"). Is it not conceivable that he was here alluding to Ockeghem's very well paid position as treasurer at the monastery church of St. Martin in Tours? Surely not since in all the other eulogies the honesty and piety of the composer is underlined.

Ockeghem's pupils, among whom apparently all the great composers of the period belong, Josquin, de la Rue, Brumel and Compére, were invited to compose laments for him and met this request, Josquin even with his absolute masterpiece. The beloved teacher was here described not only as master of all means of musical expression, but, at the same time as a wise and learned man, with great knowledge in 'Mathematics, Arithmetic and Geometry, Astrology and, over and above this, Music'. That Ockeghem was very well versed in these intellectual disciplines is seen also in his great interest in complicated musical enigmas and puzzle games, for example a whole Mass in which each of the four voices sings constantly in its own rhythm, while two voices sing in canon; similarly in the Missa Prolationum, not to mention the Missa Cuiusvis Toni which can be sung in all four classical modes, whereby the course of the individual parts remains in principle the same, while the whole work will sound completely different.

Yet, these skilful intricacies apart, the actual sound of the music must be considered. It remains, with all its extravagant complexity, above all interesting to hear. It is clear that Ockeghems wealth of imagination knows no bounds. His ideas bubble forth in an almost endless and virtually shapeless stream of luxuriant invention. In this respect there is no music like this. Rhythmically it is extremely variable and of a degree of difficulty that we first find again a comparable form in our own century.

The music radiates, in spite of its absolute intellectual principles of construction, a marked medieval mysticism, a search for a religious goal through the incomprehensibility in music, the well-controlled primeval forest of sounds, which come upon the ears and tell of the incomprehensible power of God and the infinite extent and grace of Heaven.

Over and above this there is a picture of Johannes Ockeghem. Portraits of medieval composers are seldom found and this was painted first twenty years after his death. In spite of that, here he stands, among his singers, with glasses on his nose, the great, thin and consistently unerring master, reminding the observer that he was in his time almost as well known for his glorious, deep bass voice as for his unique language as a composer.

Bo Holten (English version by Keith Anderson)


Intemerata Dei mater, generosa puella, quam stipant agmina divum,
respice nos tantum, si quid iubilando queremur, tu scis virgo decens,
quanti discrimen agatur exulibus passimque quibus iactemur arenis.

Nec sine et manet ulla quies spes nulla laboris,
nulla salus patriae domus aut potiunda parentis cui regina praees
dispensans omnia laeto suscipis ore pios dulci quos nectare potas
et facis assiduos epulis accumbere sacris.

Aspiciat facito miseros pietatis ocello
Filius ipsa poles fessos hinc arripe sursum diva virgo manu tutos et in arce locato.



Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis, Domine.
Et decet hymnus Deus in Sion, et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem:
exaudi orationem meam, ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem aeternam...


Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.


Si ambulem in medio umbrae mortis non timebo mala,
quoniam tu mecum es, Domine.
Virga tua et baculus tuus ipsa me consolata sunt.


Sicut cervus desiderat ad fontes aquarum:
ipsa desiderat anima mea ad te Deus.
Sitivit anima mea ad Deum vivum:
Quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem Dei mei?
Fuerunt mihi lacrime meae panes die ac nocte,
dum dicitur mihi per singulos dies: ubi est Deus tuus.


Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriae,
libera animas fidelium defunctorum de manu inferni et de profundo lacu:
libera eas de ore leonis, en absorbeat eas tartarus,
ne cadant in obscura tenebrarum.
Sed signifer sanctus Michael repraesentet eas in lucem sanctam:
quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini e ius.
Hostias et preces tibi Domine offerimus.
Tu suscipe pro animabus illis,
quarum hodie memoriam agimus:
fac eas, Domine, de morte transire ad vitam.
Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semini e ius.



Kyrie eleison,
Christe eleison,
Kyrie eleison.


Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonae volu2ntatis.
Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus et.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dextram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus.
Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.


Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem coeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum,
et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo;
Lumen de lumine; Deum verum de Deo vero;
genitum non factum; consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta stint.
Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de coelis.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto, ex Maria Virgine; et homo factus est.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis; sub Pontio Pilato passus et sepultus est.
Et resurrexit tertia die secundum scripturas; et ascendit in coelum;
sedet ad dexteram Patris;
et iterum venturis est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos;
cujus regni non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem; qui ex Patre Filioque procedit;
qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas.
Et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam.
Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.


Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua. Osanna in excelsis.


Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Osanna in excelsis.

Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

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