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CD149   TomÁs Luis de Victoria: Requiem & Reproaches



Tomás Luis de Victoria:
Requiem & Reproaches

The Choir of The Church of the Advent, Boston
Edith Ho, Director of Music

  • Notes by Nicholas Altenbernd
  • Complete texts and translations
  • 70'08" total playing time

CD149    $15.95

Purchase from Canticle Distributing


Missa pro defunctis cum sex vocibus (1605)
Mass for the Dead in Six Voices with Gregorian Chant Interpolations
1. Introit
2. Kyrie
3. Gradual
4. Tract
5. Sequence
6. Offertory
7. Sanctus and Benedictus
8. Agnus Dei
9. Communion
10. Libera me
11. In Paradisum
The Reproaches
12. Improperia: Popule meus
13. The Reproaches: O my people

Listen Listen:

Agnus Dei from Missa pro defunctis cum sex vocibus by Tomás Luis de Victoria


Tomás Luis de Victoria

The music of Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) represents the culmination of Spanish Renaissance choral composition. He was born into a large and wealthy family that had favorable connections with the nobility and the church. He and his family made good use of these connections to afford himself the best best possible education and experience during his student and journeyman years. He finally settled into an extremely advantageous clerical position, which permitted him the use of an extraordinarily fine choir and liturgy for the inspiration and realization of his music.

Victoria finished his education in Rome, where he came into contact with people from all over Europe. He was educated in, and later taught at the collegium Germanicum, a school founded by Loyala devoted to training young clerics to missionize Germany. He was organist and choirmaster in several Spanish churches in Rome. Between March and August of 1575 he was admitted to orders, a lector and exorcist, then sub-deacon, deacon and priest. His ordaining bishop was the last pre-Reformation English bishop, exiled to Rome and functioning in the English church of St. Thomas of Canterbury.

Because of his family income and a number of clerical benefices granted to him in Spain, Victoria could afford to publish most of his music, and send it across the breadth of Europe and the Spanish New World. In 1583, he issued his second book of masses. In the dedication to Philip II he solicited consideration for a position in his homeland, where he could quietly function as priest and composer. His request was granted, probably in 1587. He was appointed personal chaplain to the king's sister, the Dowager Empress Maria. She was the wife of the Emperor Maximilian II, daughter of an emperor, and she numbered two emperors among her fifteen children. Following her husband's death, she chose to retire to a comvent. The Monasterio de las Descalzas de Santa Clara de la Villa de Madrid (Convent of Barefoot Nuns of Saint Clare) had been founded in 1564, and its clergy and patrons had connections to the highest Spanish nobility. Its endowment was very large, and the music was especially well looked after.

In addtion to his duties as the Empress's personal chaplain, Victoria was appointed chapel master for life. He had at his disposal a choir composed (by royal decree) of twelve priests trained as singers and having no other offices or duties, and four boys. Mass was sung twice daily. Within this serene, well-regulated environment, Victoria passed the rest of his life.

In 1603, the Empress Maria died, leaving Victoria an endowed chaplaincy in the convent. In 1605, Victoria mortgaged several of his incomes in order to publish his Officium defunctorum, written in her memory. In addition to the Missa pro defunctis in six voices, it contains the respond from the Burial Office, Libera me (heard on this CD), and settings of texts from Job, used in the Burial Office. The Mass is appropriately a bit archaic in the context of Victoria's other mass settings. With one exception, these are "paraphrase" masses - that is, they use a pre-existent motet as a point of departure, elaborating freely on it's harmonic progressions and melodic material. In the Missa pro defunctis, however, the Gregorian chant for the Mass of the Dead functions as a cantus firmus throughout, mostly in the second soprano part. Except for some slight alterations to accomodate cadences, it is quoted verbatim.

The portions of the text set for the Missa pro defunctis fo 1605 aare almost identical to those in the Missa pro defunctis in four voices, of 1583. For those portions not set polyphonically, Victoria usually prescribed interpolations of chant to complete the appointed text. In one section - "Tremens factus" in the Libera me - the music is identical to both masses. And in both requiems Victoria follows the more ancient practice of using the chant as a strict cantus firmus. The chant sections published in Victoria's Opera Omnia of 1902-13 do not conform twith the Liber Usualis. The latter versions are used here.

-Nicholas Altenbernd

Mass for the Dead in Six Voices
1. Introit
Requiem æternum dona eis, Domine;
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion,
    et tibi reddetur votum in Jerusalem.
Exudi orationem meam;
    ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam...
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord;
    and let light perpetual shine upon them.
Thou, O God, art praised in Sion,
    and unto thee shall the vow be performed
    in Jerusalem: thou that hearest the prayer,
    unto thee shall all flesh come.
Rest eternal...


2. Kyrie
Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie Eleison.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.


3. Gradual

Requeim æternum dona eis, Domine,
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.
in memoriaæ terna, erit justus:
    ab auditione mala non timebit.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord:
    and let light perpetual shine upon them.
The righteous shall be had in everlasting
    remembrance: he will not be afraid
    of any evil tidings.


4. Tract

Absolve, Domine, animas omnium
    fideium defunctorum ab omni
    vinculo delctorum. Et gratis
    tua illus succurrente, mereantur
    evadere judicium ultionis.
Et lucis æternæ beatitudine perfrui.
Absolve, O Lord, the souls of all the
    faithful departed from all the chains of
    their sins. That by the succour of thy grace
    they may be found worthy to escape the
    avenging judgement.
And enjoy the bliss of everlasting light.


5. Sequence

Mode I
Dies iræ dies illa
    Solvet sæclum in favilla:
    Teste David cum Sibrylla.
Qunatas tremor est futurus,
    Quando judex est venturus.
    Cuncta stricte discussurus!
Tuba mirum spargens sonum
    Per sepulcra regionum,
    Coget omnes ante thronum.
Mors stupebit et natura,
    Cum resurget creatura,
    Judicanti responsura.
Liber scriptus proferetur,
    In quo totum continectar,
    Unde mundus judicetur
Judex ergo cum sedebit,
    Quidquid later, apparebit:
    Nil intultum remanebit.
Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
    Quem patronum rogaturus,
    Cum vix justus sit securus?
Rex tremendæ majestatis,
    Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
    Salva me, fons pietatis.
Recordare, Jesu pie,
    Quod sum causa tuæ viæ:
    Ne me perdas illa die.
Quærens me, sedisti lassus:
    Redemisti Crucern passus:
    Tantus labor non sit cassus.
Justus judex ultion is,
    Donum fac remissionis
    Ante diem rationis.
Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
    Culpa rubet vultus meus:
    Supplicanti parce, Deus:
Qui Mariam absolvisti,
    Et latronem exaudisti,
    Mihi quoque spem dedisti.
Preces meæ non sunt dignæ:
    Sed tu bonus fac benigne,
    Ne perenni cremer igne.
Inter oves locum præsta,
    Et ab hædis me sequestra,
    Statuens in parte dextra.
Confutatis maledictis,
    Flammis acribus addictis
    Voca me cum benedictis.
Oro supplex et acclinis,
    Cor contritum quasi cinis:
    Gere curam mei finis.
Lacrimosa dies illa,
    Qua resuret ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.
    Huic ergo parce, Deus:
Pie Jesu Domine,
    Dona eis requiem. Amen.
Day of wrath and doom impending,
    David's word with Sibyl's blending!
    Heaven and earth in ashes ending!
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth,
    When from heaven the Judge descendeth,
     On whose sentence all dependeth!
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
    Through earch's sepulchres it ringeth.
    All before the throne it bringeth.
Death is struck and nature quaking.
    All Creation is awaking,
    To its Judge an answer making.
Lo! the book exactly worded,
    Wherein all hath been recorded,
    Thence shall judgement be awarded.
When the Judge his seat attaineth,
    And each hidden deed arraigneth:
    Nothing unavenged remaineth.
What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
    Who for me be interceding,
    When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
    Who dost free salvation send us,
    Fount of pity, then befriend us.
Think, kind Jesu, my salvation
    Caused thy wondrous Incarnation;
    Leave me not to reprobation.
Faint and weary thou hast sought me,
    On the Cross of suffering bought me,
    Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Righteous Judge, for sin's pollution,
    Grant thy gift of absolution,
    Eere that day of retribution.
Guilty now I pour my moaning,
    All my shame with anguish owning;
    Spare, O God, thy suppliant groaning.
Through the sinful woman shriven,
    Through the dying thief forgiven,
    Thou to me a hope hast given.
Worthless are my tears and sighing,
    Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
    Rescue me from fires undying.
With thy sheep a place provide me,
    From the goats afar divide me,
    To thy right hand do thou guide me.
When the wicked are confounded,
    Doomed to flames of owe unbounded,
    Call me, with thy saints surrounded.
Low I kneel, with heart-submission!
    See, like ashes my contrition!
    Help me in my last condition!
Ah! that day of tears and mourning!
    From the dust of earth returning,
Man for judgement must prepare him;
    Spare, O God, in mercy spare him!
Lord, all pitying, Jesu blest,
    Grant them thine eternal rest. Amen.


6. Offertory

Domine Jesu Christe, Rex gloriæ,
    libera animas ominum fidelium
    defuntorum de pænis inferni et de
    profundo lacu; libera eas de ore
    leonis; ne absorbeat eas tartarus, ne
    cadant in obscurum. Sed signifer
    sanctus Michael repræsentet eas in
    lucem sanctum. Quam olim Abrahæ
    promisisti et semini ejus.
O Lord Jesus Christ, King of Glory,
    deliver the souls of all the faithful
    departed from the pains of hell and from
    the bottomless pit. Save them from the
    lions jaws, that hell may not engulf them,
    that they may not fall into darkness, but
    let Saint Michael the standard-bearer lead
    them into the holy light which thou of old
    didst promise to Abraham and to his seed.
Mode II

Hostias et preces tibi, Domine,
    laudis offerimas. Tu suscipe pro
    animabus illis quarum hodie memoriam
    facimus. Fac eas, Domine, de morte
    transire ad vitam.

Quam olim Abrahæ
    promisisti et semini ejus.

Sacrifices and prayers of praise to thee,
    O Lord, we offer. Do thou receive them
    on behalf of those souls whom this day
    we commemorate. Grant them, O Lord,
    to pass from death unto life.

Which thou of old didst promise
    to Abraham and to his seed.


7. Sanctus and Benedictus

Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus
    Deus, Sabaoth, Pleni sunt coeli et
    terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine
    Domine. Hosanna in excelsis.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,
    Heaven and earth are full of thy glory,
    Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name
    of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.


8. Agnus Dei

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona
    eis requiem. Agnus Dei, qui tollis
    peccata mundi, dona eis requeim
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of
    the world, grant them rest. O Lamb of God,
    that takest away the sins of the world,
    grant them rest eternal.


9. Communion

Lux æterna luceat eis, Domine,
    cum sanctis tuis in æternum:
    quia pius es.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine;
    et lux perpetua luceat eis:
    cum santis tuis in ætenum: quia pus es.
Let light eternal shine upon them, O Lord:
    With thy saints for evermore:
    for thou art gracious.
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord: and let
    light perpetual shine upon them. With thy
     saints for evermore: for thou art gracious.


10. Libera me

Libera me, Domine, de morte æterna
    in die illa tremenda; quando coeli
    movendi sunt et terra; dum veneris
    judicare sæculum per ignem.
Tremens factus sum ergo, et timeo, dum
    discussio venerit atque ventura ira,
    quando coeli movendi sunt et erra.
Dies illa, dies iræ, calamitatis et
    miseriæ, dies magna et amara valde,
    dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.
Requiem æternam dona eis Domine,
    et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Libera me...
Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.

Deliver me, O Lord, from everlasting death
    in that fearful day: When the heavens and
     earth shall be shaken: When thou shalt
     come to judge the world by fire.
I am in fear and trembling, until the sifting
     be upon us and the wrath to come. When
     the heavens and the earth shall be shaken.
Woe is me, for the day of wrath, calamity and
     misery, the great day of exceeding bitterness,
     When thou shalt come to judge the world
     by fire. Rest eternal grant unto them, O
     Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon

Deliver me...
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.


11. In Paradisum

Mode VII
In paradisum dedumctant te angeli,
    in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres,
    et perducant te in civitatem
    sanctam Jersusalem.
Chorus angelorum te suscipiat
    et cum Lazaro quondam paupere
    æternam habeas requiem.
May the angels receive thee in paradise,
    at thy coming may the martyrs receive
    thee, and bring thee into the Holy City
May the choir of angles receive thee
    and with Lazarus, once a beggar,
    may thou have eternal rest.


12. Improperia: Popule meus

R.    Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Tesponde mihi.
V.    Quia eduxi te de terra Ægypti: parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo.
R.    Hagios o Theos. Sanctus Deus. Hagios Ischyros. Sanctus Fortis.
        Hagios Athanatos, eleison hymas. Sanctuss et Immortalis, miserere nobis.
V.    Quia eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis, et manna cibavi te, et introduxi in
        terram satis optimam : parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo. Repeat Hagios.
V.    Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci? Ego quidem plantavi te vineam meam
        specioissimam : et tu facta es mihi nimis amara: aceto namque sitim meam potasti:
       et lancea perforasti latus Salvatori tuo. Repeat Hagios.


13. The Reproaches: O my people

R.     O my people, what have I done unto thee? or wherein have I worried thee? Testify
         against me.
V.     Because I brought thee forth from the land of Egypt: thou hast prepared a Cross for
         thy Savior.
R.     Hagios o Theos. Holy God. Hagios Ischyros. Holy, Mighty.
         Hagios Athanatos, eleison hymas. Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us.
V.     Because I led thee through the desert forty years, and fed thee with manna, and
          brought thee into a land exceedingly good: thou hast prepared a Cross for thy Savior.
         Repeat Hagios.
V.     What more could I have done for thee that I have not done? I indeed did plant
         thee, O my vineyard, with exceeding fair fruit: and thou art become very bitter
         unto me: for vinegar mingled with gall, thou gavest me when thirsty: and hast
         pierced with a spear the side of thy Savior. Repeat Hagios.
V.1   I did scourge Egypt with her first-born for thy sake: and thou hast scourged me
          and delivered me up.
R.     O my people, what have I done unto thee? or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify
         against me.
V.2   I led thee forth out of Egypt, drwoning Pharoah in the Red Sea: and thou hast
          delivered me up unto the chief priests. Repeat O my people.
V.3   I did open the sea before thee: and thou hast opened my side with a spear.
          Repeat O my people.
V.4   I did go before thee in the pillar of cloud: and thou hast led me unto the judgement
          hall of Pilate. Repeat O my people.
V.5   I did feed thee with manna in the desert: and thou hast stricken me with blows
          and scourges. Repeat O my people.
V.6   I did give thee to drink the water of life from the rock: and thou hast given me to
          drink but gall and vinegar. Repeat O my people.
V.7   I did smite the kings of the Canaanites for thy sake: and thou hast smitten my head
         with a reed. Repeat O my people.
V.8  I did give thee a royal sceptre: and thou hast given unto my head a crown of
         thorns. Repeat O my people.
V.9  I did raise thee on high with great power: and thou hast hanged me upon the
         gibbet of the Cross. Repeat O my people.


Edith Ho, Director
for the Missa pro defunctis cum sex vocibus:
Soprano I
Karol Bennet, cantor
Anne Chalmners
Melanie Messick
Patricia Rose
Soprano II
Joyce Bynum
Margaret Pash
Cheryl K. Ryder
Charles Bach
Richard Clemmitt
Paul Flight
Tenor I
William Cutter
Stephen Kowalshyn
Rockland Osgood
Tenor II
Marc Aubertin, librarian
William Hite
L. Frederick Jodry, V
James Gabbert
Geoffrey Leake
Richard Morrison, cantor
Kenneth Pristash
Originally recorded in May, 1985 and released on AFKA LP disc No. S4898
for the Improperia:
Priscella Anderson
Susan Bisson
Shannon Canavin
Margaret Hunter*
Barbara Jamison
Cheryl K. Ryder
Alice Dumpman
Beth Guiton
Martin Near*
Robert Sussuma
Charles Blandy*
William Hudson
Charles Kamm
Sterling Lambert
Glenn Billingsley
Richard Giausso
Joe Dan Harper*
Sumner Thompson
  Ivan Hansen, Librarian
Jospeh Chapman, score engraver
* Solo Quartet
Recorded April 28, 2003 at The Church of the Advent, Boston
Recording engineer for the entire CD: Scott keny BKM Associates, Willimgton, MA
Producer for AFKA: Scott Kent
Producer for ARSIS: Robert Schuneman

Every year on Good Friday, The Church of the Advent in Boston, like countless other churches worldwide, recalls the suffering of Christ on the Cross through the ancient liturgy of the Catholic Church. A series of chants, known as the Improperia or "Reproaches," are integral to this liturgy and are performed at what is perhaps the most solemn part of the service - the Veneration of the Cross. The Reproaches were sung as plainchant for centuries, but during the Renaissance composers began to set portions of the chant texts polyphonically. Victoria's is one of the most beloved of these settings, and the Choir of The Church of the Advent has sung his version of the Reproaches for decades.

Victoria's music for Holy Week, Officium Hebdomadae Sanctae, was published in 1585, a full twenty years before his six-voice Requiem. Even so, this collection, like the Requiem, displays a particularly personal and Spanish stamp. The collection comprises nine Lamentations, two Passions, eighteen responsories, and several other pieces including a setting of the Reproaches. The Reproaches express the ideas of God's generosity and willingness to forgive man, on the one hand, and man's ingratitude, on the other. These ideas appear side by side in each of the chants, with the image of Christ's suffering serving as an overarching theme.

Victoria's is not the earliest polyphonic setting of these chants. Indeed, a tradition of setting the chants to polyphony developed at the Sistine Chapel in the sixteenth century, and Victoria followed the lead of several earlier composers. Palestrina set the Reproaches in a falsobordone style (a simple, improvisational style) which seems to have reflected the Capella Sistina's performance practice at the time. Victoria's setting is different, however, in that he alternates a fully-realized, newly-composed (i.e. non-chant based) polyphonic style with the chants themselves. The polyphony is almost exclusively homophonic and syllabic, treating the text in as starkly simple a manner as possible. The simplicity of the setting is marvelously evocative of the poignant pleading of the text.

The Reproaches texts and the music to which the chants were set have an interesting and intricate history, melding western and eastern chant traditions. Victoria's setting is best understood with reference to this history, for although he strays entirely from the musical material of the Reproaches chants, he adheres unwaveringly to the form of the chant texts. Scholars have identified three chant traditions in the medieval manuscript sources for the Reproaches: 1) the Greater Reproaches, 2) the Trisagion, and 3) the Lesser Reproaches. The Greater Reproaches and the Trisagion ("three times holy") seem to reflect an earlier tradition, while the Lesser Reproaches are documented for the first time in Italian manuscripts from the early eleventh century.

The Greater Reproaches consist of a series of texts, "Popole meus...," "Quia eduxi te de terra...,""Quia eduxi te per desertum...," and finally "Quid ultra debui facere tibi..." which constitutes a series of questions posed by Christ to his people. All four of these texts are musically related in their chant forms; Victoria sets only one, "Popule meus...," to polyphony, leaving the other three texts as chant. These Greater Reproaches are traditionally sung in alternation with the Greek text of the Trisagion, a prayer for God's mercy, set to a chant generally thought to be of Byzantine origin. Victoria sets the Trisagion to polyphony, alternating this text with the second, third, and fourth texts of the Greater Reproaches. Victoria's setting of the Trisagion involves two separate choirs: the first chorus sings the Greek text, while a second chorus echoes the first with a Latin translation of the Greek. In our performance the second chorus is a solo quartet that is physically distanced from the larger group, giving the Latin portions of the text an ethereal echo-like quality.

The Lesser Reproaches, a series of shorter questions that adhere to the textural and musical patterns established in the Greater Reproaches, follow the three statements of the combined Trisagion and Greater Reproaches. The nine chant verses of the Lesser Reproaches alternate with the polyphonic popule meus, the first text of the Greater Reproaches.

The overall form of Victoria's Reproaches follows this pattern:
    Greater Reproaches: Popule meus (polyphony)
    Greater Reproaches: Quia eduxi te de terra (chant)
    Trisagion: (polyphony with alternating choirs)
    Greater Reproaches: Quia eduxi te per desertum (chant)
    Trisagion: (polyphony with alternating choirs)
    Greater Reproaches: Quid ultra debui facere tibi (chant)
    Trisagion: (polyphony with alternating choirs)
    Lesser Reproaches: (chant alternating with polyphony)

Two versions of the Greater Reproaches and Trisagion appear on this recording. The first version presents the texts in their original Latin and Greek, while the second offers an English translation of the Latin portions but retains the Greek of the Trisagion. This second version is heard annually at the Church of the Advent. On this recording the Lesser Reproaches are sung in English, again reflecting standard practice at the Church of the Advent.

The plain, homophonic style of Victoria's setting is markedly different from the more freely-moving melismatic polyphonic style of most of his other works. The deliberate simplicity of the polyphony perfectly complements the stark beauty and repetition of the chants. For anyone listening to Victoria's Reproaches at the time that they were written, the polyphonic sections must have struck the ear with a touchingly personal newness. Although his setting is now centuries old, it retains an immediacy that perfectly evokes the raw emotion of these most painful of Holy Week texts.

--Noël Bisson, Ph.D.

The Church of the Advent

The Parish of the Advent in Boston was founded in 1844, to bring to America a practical realization of the reforms of the Oxford Movement. The Parish has always been a leader in the development of Anglo-Catholic ministry and liturgical practice.

Since its founding, the Parish of the Advent has always supported a choir of the highest quality, principally for the ornamentation of its worship services. At a time when Episcopal church music and liturgy were of notoriously low quality, the Advent was founded to set a finer example. The psalms have always been read from the most literate translations, and chanted to the ancient tones, occasionally ornamented by polyphonic formulas ("Anglican chant").

The Advent's music program, under Edith Ho, strives to maintain the highest standard of performance, informed insofar as possible current scholarly research. Anglican practice has always been able to borrow and subsume an almost irreconcilably various range of liturgical musics: Jewish, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant. The Church of the Advent continues this catholic tradition, maintaining one of the finest music programs in the Anglican Communion.

-Nicholas Altenbernd

The Advent Choir on ARSIS recordings: