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date: 14 October 2019


  • Andrew Kirkman


The melisma on the final word, ‘caput’, of the antiphon Venit ad Petrum (ex.1), found in the Maundy Thursday ritual of the Washing of the Feet (the mandatum ceremony) in the English Use of Salisbury and other liturgical uses (Bukofzer, 1950) and used as a cantus firmus in three surviving masses and a Marian motet. The earliest work based on the melisma, a four-voice mass ascribed in the Trent codices to Du Fay, has been shown to be a misattributed work by an anonymous English composer. This mass was clearly one of the most revered compositions of the 15th century. It has survived in no fewer than seven manuscripts, more sources than any other mass cycle written before the 1480s. It may also have been the most influential English mass from a time when insular cycles were providing a model for cyclic mass composition across Europe. Its four-voice texture, using a low contratenor and long-note tenor cantus firmus, with the structural melody stated twice in each movement in so-called double-cursus format, is found also in a large number of similarly constructed masses composed on the Continent beginning in the late 1440s (Wegman, ...

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Early Music
Music & Letters
Early Music History
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Musical Quarterly