Ad Festum Omnium Sanctorum

2009-11-01 15:00


at the court of Frederick the Wise at the beginning of the 16th century



Introitus Gaudeamus Omnes in Domino

Heinrich Isaac

(Choralis Constantinus II: 1550-55)



'Kyrie'aus der Missa Dominicale Maius

Adam Rener

(RostockU 49, 1566/Rhau 1541')



'Gloria' aus der Missa Dominicale Maius



Graduale Timete Dominum


(Graduale Pataviense, Wien 1511)




Alleluia V. Vox exultationis

Heinrich Isaac

(Choralis Constantinus II)




Sequence Omnes Sancti Seraphin


(Graduale Pataviense, f 261-2/

Notker Balbulus


(ca 840-910)/

(Choralis Constantinus II)

Heinrich Isaac



'Credo' aus der Missa Dominicale Maius

Antoine Brumel


(ca 1460-1512/13)



Offertorium Letamini in domino


(Graduale Pataviense)




'Sanctus' aus der Missa Veci la danse Barbari

Adam Rener

(Jena 36, Wittenberg, 1500-20)




'Agnus dei' aus der Missa Veci la danse Barbari



Communio Amen, dico vobis


(Choralis Constantinus II)

Heinrich Isaac



Singers: Rebecca Stewart (Leitung), Anna Kellnhofer, Marsja Mudde, Naomi Yasumura, Marijke Meerwijk, Gesine Friedrich, Thomas Riede, Christoph Burmester,

Tim Karweick, Hans-Joachim Schumann, Cornelius Uhle, Ton Debets


Background information:

This reconstructed Mass for All Saints Day in the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg has been specially chosen to fit not only today's feast day,  but also to transport us  back to the Court of Frederick  the Wise, Elector of Saxony from 1486 until his death in 1525.

As we know, Frederick the Wise was not only a good and religious ruler (pressing the need for political change upon Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor) but a great and active supporter of Luther and of Luther's reforms. What is perhaps less well known is that his two great loves were music and German history; before his conversion to the new faith, his  court was renowned for the activity of its 'Roman Catholic' music establishment, which vied with that of Maximilian in excellence. The intention of the music chosen for today's Latin - therefore pre-Lutheran - mass for All Saints Day at Frederick's court is to introduce you, our public, to its quality  and, therefore, to the importance which Frederick attached to it in his own worship and that of his court.

Between 1507 and 1517 the chief composer at Frederick's court, both at Torgau and at Wittenberg, was Adam Rener (ca 1485-ca 1520). After studying in Burgundy and singing at the court of Maximilian Rener spent the rest of his life at Frederick's court,

where he was largely instrumental for its establishment as a 'modern' musical center, and for its music, a large percentage of which he probably composed himself. Much of this music is preserved in the so-called Jena choirbooks, some of which he helped to edit. Jena36, from which comes his Missa Veci la danse Barbari (see the 'Sanctus' and 'Agnus Dei'), is definitely one of these.

Born in Liège, both Rener and his older colleague the Flemish composer Heinrich Isaac (1450/5-1517) were highly trained in the Netherlandish polyphonic practices of the end of the 15th century. Although Isaac remained with Maximilian his famous mass propers, which were gathered together and augmented by his student Ludwig Senfl, were more than likely also sung at the court of Frederick. Rener's settings of several introits, alleluias and sequences amply attest to Isaac's influence.

Isaac's proper settings have been published in the 20th century: his settings of the introitus, alleluia, sequence and communio for All Saints Day were, for example, transcribed by Anton von Webern in 1906. However  only three of Rener's nine masses have been published. It is partly for this reason that we have chosen to sing the ordinary of today's mass from two of the unpublished masses, masses which may not have been sung for the last 400 years. Both masses, which were very probably written in different stylistic periods of Rener's life, are found in sources which stem from the Wittenbergian circles of Frederick.The Missa Dominicale Maius is the later of the two masses.  Of this mass two sources still exist. The first, four printed partbooks, was published by the famous Wittenberg printer Georg Rhau in 1541. The second source is virtually an identical copy of the first.  Because it was written in a  beautiful and musical hand we are singing from it. This manuscript is now in Rostock University (U 49). All three of the movements from this mass which are being sung today - the Kyrie, Gloria and Credo - are based on their Gregorian counterparts and all are in the somber  and solemn IVth (hypophrygian) mode on E (mi). This mode is often  associated with major feasts, under which the Feast for All Saints Day falls. Hence the title Dominicale Maius. A second and equally important reason for the choice of this mass is that Rener has incorporated the Credo from Antoine Brumel's Italian-influenced Missa de Beate virgine into it! Obviously Rener held this French composer in high regard. Brumel's credos became models for the more modern 16th-century treatment of this very long text because he alternated long sections in a recitative style with large melismas on emotive words such as 'saecula, 'Pilato passus', 'vivificantem' and 'amen'.

The second mass, from which the Sanctus and Agnus Dei will be sung, is found only in the Wittenberg choirbook,  Jena 36. Because the mass is given no title in this source it has traditionally gone under the name Missa Sine nomine. However, its name should rightly be Missa Veci la danse Barbari because it is based on an anonymous four-part French chanson of the same name from  the late 15th century. The appearance of this mass in Jena 36, which is an early 16th-century source, and the fact  that Rener's older Flemish colleague, Jacobus Obrecht also wrote a Sine nomine mass on the same somewhat risqué chanson, suggest that Rener's own Missa Veci la danse Barbari -  like Obrecht's mass, with yet another borrowed Credo! - may have been written while he was still quite young. The fact that Rener's mass, albeit within a liturgical function, is almost as 'frolicsome' as its model, can only strengthen this hypothesis.

The chants for the Graduale and Offertory, as well as those for the even verses of the Sequence for All Saints Day, are sung from the contemporaneous and stylistically closely related Graduale Pataviense (Wien 1511). Although both Rener and Isaac were Flemish it is fascinating to realize that Isaac's Introitus, Alleluia, Sequence and Communio, as well as Rener's Kyrie and Gloria are based on Gregorian models which belong to the same usage  as that of this most Germanic  chantbook from the city of Passau. Certain melodic and textual variations make this obvious. At two places in Rener's Gloria he changes the order of standard formulae: 'propter magnam

gloriam tuam' becomes 'propter gloriam tuam magnam'. To the word 'Jesu Christe' is added that of 'altissimi'. Both of these alterations are also found in the IVth-mode Gloria of the Graduale Pataviense. However, in Rener's Gloria the trope 'Hymnum dicimus tibi' is added to introduce the words 'Gratia agimus tibi propter gloriam....' This is unique to his Gloria.

As is obvious from the above information the singers will be singing  from both choirbooks and partbooks.

Dr. Rebecca Stewart

Texts: (only the proprium texts are given below and translated)

Introitus: (Ps 32)


Gaudeamus omnes in Domino

Let us all rejoice in the Lord

diem festum celebrantes

as we celebrate this feast day

in honore sanctorum omnium

in honour of all the saints;

dequorum solemnitate,

it is a solemnity which causes

gaudent angeli

the Angels to rejoice,

et collaudant Filius Dei.

and to praise together the Son of God.

V. Exultate iusti in Domino.

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous;

Rectos decet collaudatio.

praising befits those who are upright.


Doxology: Gloria Patri et Filio...

Glory be to the Father and to the Son...


Graduale: (Ps 33: 10, V. 11b)


Timete dominum omnes sancti eius:

Revere the Lord, all you saints of his;

quoniam nichil deest timentibus eum.

for there is no want among those who fear him.

V. Inquirentes autem dominum,

Those who seek the Lord

non deficient omni bono.

shall lack no good thing.


Alleluia V.


Vox exultationes et salutis

The voice of exultation and salvation

in tabernaculis iustorum.

in the tabernacles of the virtuous.


Sequence: (Verses 1, 3a, 4a etc and 9: Graduale Pataviense; verses 2, 3b etc: Isaac)

1. Omnes sancti seraphin cherubin

All you holy seraphim, cherubim,

throni quoque dominationesque

thrones too, as well as dominations,

2. Principatus potestates virtutes,

Principalities, powers, virtues,



3a. Archangeli angeli

Archangels, angels!

vos decet laus et honores.

praise and honor befit you.

3b. Ordines noveni spirituum beatorum,

You nine-fold order of blessed spirits,

4a. Quos in dei laudibus firmavit charitas,

You whom charity has made strong


in the praise of God,

4b. Nos fragiles homines firmate praecibus.

Strengthen us frail humans through your prayers.

5a. Et spiritales pravitates vestro iuvamine

So that valiantly conquering

vincentes fortiter.

our spiritual depravities,

5b. Nunc et in evum vestris simus

Now and forever, we may be worthy

digni solemniis interesse sacris

to partake in your sacred rites of  worship.

[Cantus: Nunc et perhenniter vestris..]

[Now and always...]

6a. Vos quos dei gratia vincere terrea.

You whom God's grace made able to conquer worldly things

6b. Et angelis socios fecit esse polo.

And to become companions to the angels in Heaven

7a. Vos patriarche prophete apostoli

You patriarches prophets, apostles,

confessores martyres monachi virgines.

confessors, martyrs, monks, virgins,

7b. Et viduarum sanctarum omniumque

And the company of holy widows,

placentium populo[s] supremo domino:

and of all those pleasing to God on high:

8a. Vos adiutorium

May your assistance,

8b. Nunc et perhenniter

Now and always,

9.   Foveat protegat ut vestrum

Sustain and protect us as your own,

in die poscimus gaudiorum vestrorum.

this we pray in this day of your joyful celebration.

Offertorium: (Ps 31, 11)

Letamini in domino et exultate iusti

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous;

et gloriamini omnes recti corde.

and shout for joy, all you


that are upright in heart.

Communio (Matth 19, 28-29)


Amen, dico vobis,

Verily I say unto you,

Quod vos qui reliquistis omnia,

that you who have relinguished all

et secuti estis me,

and have followed me,

centuplum accipietis,

will receivea hundredfold,

et vitam aeternam possidebitis.

and have everlasting life.



All Dates

  • 2009-11-01 15:00
FaLang translation system by Faboba


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