A note for customers wishing to buy the CD.
The award-winning Dunedin Consort return with a recording dedicated to the music collected by Thomas Wode which represents the wealth of noteworthy compositions by Scots or by English and continental composers active in Scotland in the latter half of the sixteenth century.
Featuring works by well-known composers such as Thomas Tallis, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Orlandus Lassus, alongside lesser known composers such as John Fethy, Jacques Arcadelt and John Angus plus a host of anonymous works, this collection provides not only an historical insight into a specific musical period in Scotland, but also allows the talented singers of the Dunedin Consort to highlight all the nuances of the pieces with their celebrated one-voice-to-a-part delivery.
Fretwork, along with David Miller (lute), provide a perfect accompaniment to this unique and fascinating collection.
NB. Please note that track 12 is listed as tracks 12 & 13 on the inlay, but have been combined for the download.
David Miller - lute
The Wode Collection
16th Century Music by Scottish, English & Continental Composers
The partbooks compiled by Thomas Wode from the mid-1560s onwards represent one of the most important contributions ever made to Scottish music and to its preservation. Commissioned as a set of four-part harmonisations of the emerging Scottish Psalter they ended up as much more, as a result of Wode's collecting activity and his determination to record and preserve as much as he could of the music of his time, whether composed by Scots or by English and continental composers known in Scotland. As a result, the partbooks provide a unique insight into the musical life of the country in the second half of the sixteenth century. They also preserve a considerable number of annotations written by Wode in an inimitable style which give a fascinating commentary on the happenings of his time, especially as they affected music.
Thomas Wode had most likely been a Tironensian (Benedictine) monk in the Abbey of Lindores before the Scottish Reformation, after which he became a reader and vicar in St. Andrews. He was commissioned by Lord James Stewart, half-brother of Mary, Queen of Scots, earl of Moray and later Regent of Scotland, to obtain and compile harmonisations of the 105 tunes included in the newly-printed Scottish psalter of 1564. The harmonisations were to be provided by Scotland's premier composer of the time, David Peebles, a former canon of the Priory of St. Andrews of which Lord James had been Commendator (i.e. lay) Prior. Lord James's instructions were that ‘the said David [should] leave the curiosity of musike [i.e. the more complex pre-Reformation polyphonic style] and sae to make plane and dulce'. This was in imitation of the simple four-part harmonisations of the new metrical psalm melodies coming from France and from Jean Calvin's Geneva.
Wode tells us that ‘the said David he was not earnest; bot I being com to this toune to remaine, I wes ever requeisting and solisting till thay were all set'. In fact two of the psalms (including Psalm 128 on this recording) were harmonised and copied by John Buchan when he borrowed the partbooks, to the displeasure of Wode, as he himself records. Wode also commissioned or obtained settings of the major canticles, some hymns and prayers and further items such as the Ten Commandments from other composers active in Scotland: Andro Blackhall, Andro Kemp and John Angus. To accommodate the larger-scale pieces Wode added a fifth partbook and then proceeded to copy a second set, the purpose of which is not clear.
The original destination of the partbooks is also not clear: they may have been intended for use in the Chapel Royal or for domestic use at court or in other large private houses. The reformed Scottish church largely took Genevan services as its model for worship and so discouraged all but simple unaccompanied psalm singing. However, the tide did not turn right away and there were experienced singers and musicians in the Chapel Royal and elsewhere who would have welcomed harmonised
psalms and canticles. In the event the partbooks seem to have remained with Wode, though their music could well have been copied and disseminated for use elsewhere. He proceeded to use the remaining pages to build up an anthology of polyphonic music from a variety of sources. As he says in one of his annotations, he was afraid that ‘musike sall pereishe in this land alutterlye' and so he set out to preserve as much as he could of it, whether it was pre-Reformation Latin motets by Scottish, English and continental composers, popular religious songs, anthems setting English texts, secular songs or instrumental dance music.
The fate of the two sets of partbooks after Wode's death in 1592 is largely unknown. One set seems to have spent time in Aberdeen, a very active musical centre in the early seventeenth century. Whether there, or elsewhere, blank pages were used to copy a considerable number of secular songs and rounds, most of which are found in other contemporary British manuscripts and were clearly well known on the domestic scene throughout the new kingdom of Great Britain. Later, some of the partbooks crossed over to Ireland and one remains in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Another is in the British Library in London and one is in Georgetown University Library, Washington. The other surviving five are now in the library of Edinburgh University. At least one remains missing while it is not clear whether or not the second set included a fifth partbook. This recording seeks to present a representative sample of the various musical strands in these partbooks, including the instrumental music, some of which is played here on a consort of Renaissance viols. We know that four viol-playing brothers of the English Hudson family came to Scotland around the time of Mary Stewart's marriage to Lord Darnley in 1565 and remained there into the reign of James VI (one of them, Thomas Hudson, is mentioned by Wode). The vocal items have been recorded here with one singer on each part, in line with the supposition that they were intended largely for domestic performance.
Psalm 124 with its French tune (in the tenor) seems to have been a particular favourite of Edinburgh citizens. Two thousand of them are reported as having sung it in four parts in 1582, between the Netherbow and St. Giles, to welcome back their minister
John Durie from exile. It was also sung in 1600 after a failed assassination attempt on James VI. Its text celebrates the deliverance, from dangers dramatically depicted, of a persecuted people with God on their side. It is one of the few psalms still sung today to its original tune. Psalm 43 was another rallying call of the Scottish Reformation. Its opening words ‘Judge and revenge my cause' appeared on a banner at the Battle of Carberry Hill in 1567 where it referred to the murdered Lord Darnley and the presumed role played in it by Mary, Queen of Scots and her second husband, James Hepburn, earl of Bothwell. It appeared again on a banner, in the mouth of the young James VI, after the assassination of the earl of Moray in Linlithgow in 1570. Wode tells us that this five-voice setting by Andro Blackhall, composer and minister of the Kirk in Musselburgh, was commissioned by the Regent Morton to be presented to the young James VI at Stirling in 1578, as a warning to root out his enemies, the Hamiltons. Throughout Blackhall's setting the second tenor sings a recurring phrase which is based on the psalm tone which was used to chant the Latin version of Psalm 51 (Vulgate Psalm 50), the Miserere.
Psalm 20 was sung and played by viols at Edinburgh's West Port on 17 October 1579 at the formal Royal Entry to the capital of the young James VI, just emerging from his minority. It is one of the few recorded cases of instruments being used to accompany a psalm in Scotland. The text refers to the Lord's anointed which in this period would have been seen as a reference to the king, even though the metrical version plays down a royal reference later in the psalm. Thomas Tallis was the great musical survivor of the English Reformation, composing for four Tudor monarchs from Henry VIII onwards. There are three pieces by him in the Wode partbooks, showing that his music was also known in Scotland. When shall my sorrowful sighing slake, though a secular song from the 1550s, could easily be interpreted in a religious context and is close in sentiment to Jacob Clemens' Qui consolabatur me also found in the partbooks; both represent a sense of persecution and abandonment which was in tune with the times, on both sides of the religious divide. Wode described the first of Tallis' In nomine pieces as ‘verray weill set' but thought that the second one was by another composer, though equally well done. Both are attributed to Tallis in an English manuscript of the period. Such In nomine settings were common at this time: taking as a starting point a cantus firmus or set of notes from the setting of the words ‘in nomine Domini' from the Benedictus of the Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas by the English composer John Taverner, many English composers wrote pieces for instrumental consort or keyboard which weaved contrapuntal ideas in the other parts around the cantus firmus.
Wode tells us that John Fethy studied abroad before returning to Scotland in the 1530s, bringing with him new keyboard-playing techniques. O God abufe shows something of the style of Josquin des Prez, the best-known continental composer of the early sixteenth century. The Flemish Jacobus Clemens was one of the most prolific and best-known composers of the mid-16th century. He was the first to make polyphonic settings of the psalms in Dutch and may have had protestant sympathies. Qui consolabatur, setting a text from the Office for the Dead, first appeared in an anthology published in Louvain in 1554. Wode tells us that he only had access to four of the parts; the fifth has been supplied from the printed source.
Orlandus Lassus was the most published composer of his day, and also the most versatile, writing Latin Masses and motets, Italian madrigals, French chansons and German partsongs. It is therefore not surprising to find two chansons by him in the Wode partbooks, Susanne un jour and Un jour vis un foulon. The former was one of the most popular of all chanson texts, set by many composers after it was first used by the Frenchman Didier Lupi. The text from the Book of Daniel deals with temptation resisted; the image of the steadfast Susanna was emblematic for European Protestants and Catholics alike. Lassus' version was particularly well-known and arranged in various ways, as in Wode where it appears without text; the top part is sung on this recording while the other lines are played by viols. Un jour vis un foulon is a lively piece with a naïve but probably bawdy text. It was published in Paris in 1570 and, in the same year, with slightly modified French words in London by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Protestant refugee. It was later given English words as a drinking song and, in this guise, appears in Shakespeare's Henry IV Part 2 as ‘Samingo'. A 17th-century manuscript in the National Library of Scotland preserves the melody with a version of these later words. In whatever guise Thomas Wode knew what he called ‘ane mirry sang', its inclusion in what started off as a psalter might seem rather incongruous!
As well as French chansons Wode included two early Italian madrigals in his partbooks. Jean Arcadelt was French or Flemish and moved to Florence to work for Duke Alessandro de'Medici in the 1530s. He went to Rome after the Duke's murder in 1537 and became a singer in the papal choir. From 1551 until his death, Arcadelt was in the service of the Guise family in France, especially Cardinal Charles of Lorraine, brother of Mary of Guise, Regent of Scotland. Ecco d'oro l'età was composed in 1538 for the wedding in Rome of Alessandro de'Medici's widow Margaret of Austria (the illegitimate daughter of the Emperor Charles V) and Ottavio Farnese, grandson of Pope Paul III. Sebastiano Festa's O passi sparsi is one of the earliest of all madrigals, setting a sonnet by Petrarch. It was first published in 1526 but probably came to Scottish attention through the interest taken in it by Claudin de Sermisy, an important composer at the French court in the 1550s. Claudin was responsible for the inclusion of O passi sparsi in a Parisian chanson anthology of 1533 and he also wrote a Mass based on it.
Prince Edward's Pavan, presumably named after the future Edward VI of England, appears also in a French print of 1555 as ‘Pavane d'Angleterre'. It is followed directly in Wode by what he has labelled as ‘Queen Elizabeth's Pavan' but is in reality a galliard in the triple time used for that dance. Pavan and galliard pairs were popular forms of domestic instrumental music in the later sixteenth century. Wode included another anonymous Pavan which he called ‘very gude' while acknowledging that his version was somewhat corrupt; with a little tidying up, however, it makes a fine piece. Of all the composers represented in Wode's collection, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina might seem the most unlikely. By the 1560s he was the pope's preferred
composer, writing music for the papal choir of which he had briefly been a member, and soon to become maestro at St. Peter's Basilica for the second time. Wode says simply that this isolated Hosanna section, untexted in the partbooks, is from an Italian Mass and he may not have been aware who its composer was. It has been identified as coming from Palestrina's Missa Virtute Magna, from his First Book of Masses of 1554 dedicated to Pope Julius III.
Robert Johnson was one of the finest Scottish composers of the age, though most of his composition was done in England where he may have been a petty canon at Windsor. Wode tells us that he was a priest who, when suspected of heresy, fled to England long before the Reformation. Certainly, his music survives mainly in English sources, apart from two psalm-motets in Wode. Deus misereatur nostri is a setting of the Latin text of Psalm 67 which was used for weddings in the sixteenth century; it has been speculated that it might have been written to celebrate the marriage of Henry VIII to Jane Seymour in 1536. John Angus - called ‘gude Jhone Angus' by Wode - had been a monk in Dunfermline Abbey and continued in charge of the song school there after the Reformation. He set most of the canticles and other prayers found in the Wode partbooks; his setting of a metrical version of the Compline canticle Nunc dimittis, harmonising the melody originally used for Psalm 19, is one of his finest pieces.
In 1579 James VI assented to an ‘Act of tymous remeid' which ordered colleges and major burghs to ‘erect and sett up ane sang scuill with ane maister sufficient and able for instructioun of the yowth in the said science of musik.' John Buchan most
likely fulfilled this role in Haddington and later in Glasgow and was a prebendary of the Chapel Royal from 1584. Psalm 128 was traditionally used for weddings because of its reference to the blessing of children as a reward for leading a good life. The psalm was also sung by voices and instruments at the baptism of James VI's son Prince Henry in Stirling in 1594, though probably in a more elaborate setting (also in Wode) by Andro Blackhall. Psalm 137 is one of the best-known psalms, lamenting
the Babylonian captivity of the Jews and describing how, in their sorrow, they hung their harps on willow trees. This reference inspired Wode to illustrate this psalm with pictures of a variety of instruments.
Among the many songs copied into the partbooks in the early seventeenth century are a number which were clearly popular in Scotland. Three are sung here to lute accompaniment, a popular method of performance at the time. The earliest is the anonymous O Lusty May, clearly based on dance music, perhaps of Continental origin. Like as the dum Solsequium and What mightie motion set words by the distinguished poet Alexander Montegomerie, sometime member of the Castalian Band of poets and musicians at the court of the young James VI. The composers or arrangers are not known, but the tune of the former was adapted from that of a French chanson which, in turn, seems to have been reworked from that of an Italian madrigal. The equally anonymous Scottish Christmas piece, All Sons of Adam, is an example of what 16th-century Spaniards called an ensalada - a medley compiled by mixing together excerpts from existing sacred and secular works. These include the opening lines of the pre-Reformation Latin Psalm 147 harmonised in fauxbourdon. Later copyists also copied a number of rounds and catches into the Wode partbooks. These include To love the Lord, a contrafactum which substitutes religious words for the original English round, ‘To Portsmouth, to Portsmouth'.
Thomas Wode's partbooks provide a fascinating insight into the music with which musically-literate Scots entertained themselves during the final decades of the sixteenth century and the early ones of the seventeenth. He wrote in his Quintus partbook in 1569 that singing in four or five parts was ‘meit and apt for musitians to recreat thair spirittis when as thay shall be over cum with hevines or any kynd of sadnes, not only musitians but evin to the ingnorant (sic), of a gentle nature, hearing
shal be conforted and by mirry with uss'. His music collection shows evidence of a flourishing musical culture in Scotland with strong links to England, France and Italy. Music clearly did not respect boundaries, whether geographical or religious, and Scotland is shown to have had access to some of the most influential and popular European music of the day.
On this recording sixteenth-century Scottish pronunciation is used where possible. This includes the metrical psalms and other pieces whose texts are in English, which are sung here as they might have been by sixteenth-century Scots. We are grateful to Dr. Jamie Reid-Baxter for advice about pronunciation.
© Dr. Noel O'Regan, 2011
This recording has been produced, with funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of the project: ‘The World of Reformation Britain as seen and heard in the Wode Psalter'. This is a joint research undertaking by Divinity, Music and Library Special Collections of the University of Edinburgh with the purpose of mounting an exhibition of the surviving Wode Partbooks in August-October 2011, as well as an associated programme of concerts, workshops and a recording.
Those responsible for the project are: Prof. Jane Dawson, Dr. John Scally, Dr. Noel O'Regan, Dr. Jessie Paterson, Dr. Andy Grout, Dr. Scott Spurlock and Mr. Tim Duguid who has prepared the editions. We are grateful to Alfonso Leal, general manager of the Dunedin Consort.
For further information on the project visit www.ed.ac.uk/divinity/wode.
Recorded at St Martin's Church, East Woodhay, UK from 27th-29th March 2011
Produced and engineered by Philip Hobbs
Post-production by Julia Thomas, Finesplice Ltd, UK
Design by John Haxby
A note for customers wishing to buy the CD
This CD was specially produced for an exhibition held at the University of Edinburgh Library and is not for sale via Linn Records. Although the exhibition is over you may be able to obtain a copy of the CD from the Centre for Research Collections. All enquiries should be made by telephoning the Library on +44(0)131 650 8379.