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date: 26 January 2020

Cantio natalitialocked

  • Rudolf A. Rasch


A polyphonic Christmas carol with Latin or Flemish text composed in the southern (Spanish) Netherlands during the 17th century. The term is first found in the Flemish-Latin Thesaurus theutonicae linguae (Antwerp, 1573) as a translation of leyssen (the Flemish for ‘carol’, from Kyrie eleison), a definition repeated in Cornelis Kilianus’s influential Etymologicum of 1598. ‘Cantiones natalitiae’ was used by Phalèse for a set of six anonymous polyphonic Latin carols for three to six voices published as an appendix to Pevernage’s Laudes vespertinae (Antwerp, 1604), a collection including Marian antiphons clearly associated with musical practices at Antwerp Cathedral. It seems likely that, whereas the antiphons were intended for the daily Marian devotions and the Tantum ergo settings in the same volume for the Eucharist, the cantiones natalitiae had their place in Christmas Eve services, probably at the end of Mass or Vespers. These early examples are simple homophonic settings of such well-known Latin Christmas carols or hymns as ...

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Music & Letters