About this Recording
8.554297 - OCKEGHEM: Missa L'homme arme / JOSQUIN: Memor esto verbi tui

Johannes Ockeghem (c.1420-1497)
Missa L'homme armé; Ave Maria; Alma Redemptoris Mater
Josquin Desprez (c.1460-1521)
Memor esto verbi tui

There are three factors that have affected the choice of music recorded here. First, the recording was made a few days before the 500th anniversary of Ockeghem's death (the composer died on 6th February 1497). Secondly, this release forms part of the Oxford Camerata's series of Renaissance masses based on the fifteenth-century Burgundian song L'homme armé (Naxos: Dufay 8.553087, Obrecht 8.553210, Josquin 8.553428). Thirdly, Josquin's extraordinary motet Memor esto servi tui is the model on which a previously recorded anonymous setting of the Nunc dimittis was based (Naxos: Renaissance Masterpieces 8.550843).

The Ave Maria, which opens this recording (like the Missa L'homme armé), survives in a source copied for a Burgundian nobleman very shortly after Ockeghem's death. Having said that, the Ave Maria was added to this sumptuous manuscript (the so-called Chigi Codex) almost two decades after its original assembly. Although only a short work, Ockeghem's Ave Maria is noteworthy for a number of reasons: it makes no reference to any pre-existent material; it demonstrates beautifully the composer's fluid approach to harmonic rhythm; and it ends with a short 'Amen' low in the tessitura which culminates in a minor chord. By contrast, Ockeghem's setting of the other Marian text on this recording – Alma Redemptoris Mater – is an airier work that uses the Alma Redemptoris plainchant as its model (heard on this recording immediately before Ockeghem's motet). If Ockeghem's Ave Maria is a reverential genuflection to the Virgin, then the Alma Redemptoris is an ecstatic serenade.

Ockeghem's Missa L'homme armé is a largely austere work, possibly as a response to the foursquare and belligerent nature of the song on which it is based. It is difficult to say with certainty exactly how Ockeghem responded to the text of the mass because the sources are far from clear in this regard. However, the soaring cantus firmus at the words tu solus altissimus (you alone are the highest) in the Gloria, or the athletic setting of the word vivificantem (giver of life) in the Credo can surely be no accident. Similarly, the strength of the elliptical modulation at the end of the Credo and the glorious musical arch that forms the opening section of the Sanctus show a composer whose dramatic involvement with the text of the Mass was frequently at a premium. In order to make some reference to the shape of the liturgy, on this recording a plainchant Offertory, its text from Psalm 34 (Psalm 33 in the Vulgate), has been inserted at the central point of the Mass to mark the progression from the Ministry of the Word to the Consecration. The Missa L'homme armé ends with a sublimely dark-textured Agnus Dei, a stylistic innovation that Ockeghem frequently used to great effect, nowhere more poignantly than at the end of this remarkable work.

However much or little the succeeding generation learnt from Ockeghem, the innovations of Josquin set a standard for the high Renaissance. Memor esto verbi tui shows a fascination for melodic imitation and textural contrast, and exhibits a deliberately structural use of resonant four-voice writing. Memor esto verbi tui is a setting of sixteen verses from Psalm 119 (Psalm 118 in the Vulgate); it dates from the first decade of the sixteenth century and its genesis is an interesting one. According to the early sixteenth-century musical theorist Heinrich Glarean: "Louis XII, the French king, had promised Josquin a benefice. When the promise remained unfulfilled (as is wont to happen at the courts of kings), Josquin composed the motet Memor esto verbi tui with such majesty and elegance that, when it was brought to the song school and examined with strict justice, it was admired by everyone. The king, filled with shame, did not dare to defer any longer, and immediately discharged the favour which he had promised." This account is born out by the fact that the motet survives in fourteen sources and was evidently widely known during Josquin's lifetime, although much of the motet's fame was probably due to Josquin's nerve in setting the words Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo (Remember your word to your sevant) in such an obviously urgent manner both at the beginning and end of the motet. Memor esto verbi tui is a model of early Renaissance balance and (along with Haydn's 'Farewell' Symphony) is one of the greatest musical invoices of all time.

J. C. Summerly 1997


Ave Maria

Ave Maria, gratia plena,

Dominus tecum.

Benedicta tu in mulieribus,

et benedictus fructus ventris tui:

Jesus Christus. Amen.



Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord is with you,

Blessed are you among women,

and blessed is the fruit of your womb:

Jesus Christ, Amen.



Alma Redemptoris Mater

Alma Redemptoris Mater

quae pervia caeli porta manes.

Et stella maris, succurre cadenti,

surgere qui curat populo.

Tu quae genuisti, natura mirante,

tuum sanctum Genitorem.

Virgo prius ac posterius

Gahrielis ab ore sumens illud,

Ave, peccatorum Miserere.



Gracious Mother of the Redeemer

who stands at the gates of heaven.

Star of the sea, aid to the falling,

those who struggle to rise.

You who gave birth, by a wonder of nature,

to your holy Creator.

Eternal virgin, who received

from Gabriel's lips that greeting,

Hail, have mercy on our sins.



L'homme armé

L'homme armé doibt on doubter.

On a fait partout crier

que chascun se viegue armer

d'un haubregon de fer.

L'homme armé doibt on doubter.



The armed man must be feared.

It has been decreed everywhere

that everyone should arm himself

with a sleeveless coat of mail.

The armed man must be feared




Kyrie eleison.

Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.



Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.




Gloria in excelsisDeo,

et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.

Laudamus te; benedicimus te;

adoramus te; glorificamus te;

gratias agimus tibi

propter magnam gloriam tuam.

Domine Deus, Rex caelestis,

Deus Pater omnipotens,

Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe;

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.

Qui tollis peccata mundi,

miserere nobis;

qui tollis peeeata mundi,

suscipe deprecationem nostram;

qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,

miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus sanctus,

tu solus Dominus,

tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe,

cum Sancto Spiritu

in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.



Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to those of goodwill.

We praise you; we bless you;

we worship you; we glorify you;

we give thanks to you

for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King,

God the Father almighty,

O Lord the only Son, Jesus Christ;

O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.

You take away the sins of the world,

have mercy on us;

you take away the sins of the world,

receive our prayer;

you sit at the right hand of the Father,

have mercy on us.

For you alone are holy,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the highest, Jesus Christ,

with the Holy Spirit

in the glory of God the Father. Amen.




Credo in unum Deum,

Patrem omnipotentem,

factorem caeli 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 sunt;

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 caelum,

sedet ad dexteram Patris;

et iterum vemurus est cum gloria

judicare vivos et mortuos,

cuius 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 Eccelsiam.

Confiteor unum baptisma

in remissionem peccatorum,

et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum

et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.



I believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

in all things visible and invisible;

and in one Lord Jesus Christ,

only Son of God,

and born of the Father eternally.

God of God, light of light,

true God of true God;

begotten not made,

of one substance with the Father,

by whom all things were made;

he who for mankind

and for our salvation

descended from heaven.

And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit

of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

He was crucified even for us

under Pontius Pilate;

he died and was buried.

And he rose again on the third day

according to the scriptures;

and ascended into heaven,

seated at the right hand of the Father;

and again he will come with glory

to judge the living and the dead,

whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord and giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son;

who with the Father and the Son

is likewise worshipped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic

and apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism

for the remission of sins,

and I look for the resurrection of the dead

and the life of the world to come. Amen.



Immittet Angelus Domini

Immittet Angelus Domini

in circuitu timentium eum,

et eripiet eos:

Gustate et videte

quoniam suavis est Dominus.



The Angel of the Lord encamps

round those who fear him,

and rescues them:

O taste and see

how gracious the Lord is.



Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus

Sanctus sanctus, sanctus

Dominus Deus Sabaoth;

pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

Osanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit

in nomine Domini.

Osanna in excelsis.



Holy, holy, holy

Lord God of Sabaoth;

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes

in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.



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.



Lamb of God,

you take away the sins of the world;

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

you take away the sins of the world;

have mercy on us.

Lamb of God,

you take away the sins of the world;

grant us peace.



Memor esto verbi tui

Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo,

in quo mihi spem dedisti.

Haec me consolata est in humilitate mea,

quia eloquiam tuum vivificavit me.

Superbi inique agebant usquequaque,

a lege autem tua non declinavi.

Memor fui judiciorum tuorum

a saeculo Domine, et consolatus sum.

Defectio tenuit me, pro peccatoribus

derelinquentibus legem tuam.

Cantabiles mihi erant justificationes tuae,

in loco peregrinationis meae.

Memor fui nocte nominis tui Domine,

et custodivi legem tuam.

Haec facta est mihi,

Quia justificationes tuas exquisivi,

Portio mea Domine,

dixi custodire legem tuam.

Deprecatus sum faciem tuam

in toto corde’meo,

miserere mei secundum eloquium tuum.

Cogitavi vias meas,

et converti pedes meos in testimonia tua.

Paratus sum et non sum turbatus,

ut custodiam mandata tua.

Funes peccatorum circumplexi sunt me,

et legem tuam non sum oblitus.

Media nocte surgebam

ad confitendum tibi,

super judicia justificationis tuae.

Particeps ego sum omnium timentium te,

et custodientium mandata tua.

Misericordia tua Domine plena est terra,

justificationes tuas doce me.

Gloria Patri et Filio

et Spiritui Sancto.

Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo,

in quo mihi spem dedisti.


Remember your word to your servant

on which I have built my hope.

This has been my comfort in my affliction,

for your word has brought me to life.

Though the proud have scorned me,

I have not turned from your law.

I call to mind your judgements

of old, Lord, and I am consoled.

Indignation overcomes me, because of

the sinners who have forsaken your law.

Your statutes have become my songs

in the house of my pilgrimage.

I call to mind your name in the night, Lord,

and I observe your law.

This has been my reward,

because I have kept your precepts.

The Lord is my portion,

I have promised to keep your law.

I have sought your favour

with my whole heart,

have mercy on me according to your word.

I have taken stock of my ways

and have turned my feet to your testimonies.

I made haste and did not delay

in order to keep your commandments.

The snares of the wicked encompassed me

but I did not forget your law.

In the middle of the night I rise up

in order to give thanks to you

for the righteousness of your judgements.

I am a companion to all who fear you

and to those who keep your precepts.

Lord, the world is full of your mercy,

teach me your statutes.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Spirit.

Remember your word to your servant

on which I have built my hope.

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