O Domine Jesu Christe – A. Brumel

O Domine Jesu Christe

Antonie Brumel
ed. Matthew Oltman

Duration: 5 minutes     Difficulty: 4

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Recording coming soon!

Antoine Brumel was one of a group of significant Franco-Flemish composers, led by Josquin Desprez, who followed in the footsteps of the great theorist and experimentalist, Johannes Ockeghem. Likely born near Chartres, he was the first significant composer of the school to actually be born in France. He held several significant musical posts, starting out as a singer at Notre Dame of Chartres. From there he worked at St. Peter’s in Geneva and Laon Cathedral (France) with a one year visit to the court of the Duke of Savoy in Chambe?ry in between. In 1498, Brumel was placed in charge of the education of the children singers at Notre Dame in Paris, but resigned later in the same year under “unpleasant circumstances.” He returned briefly to Chambe?ry before being named maestro di cappella for Alfonso I d’Este of Ferrara, a post previously held by Josquin and Obrecht. The chapel was dissolved in 1510, and, according to preeminent scholar, Barton Hudson, little is known of Brumel’s final days.

This motet, O Domine Jesu Christe, is a significant departure from the complex rhythmic and melodic structures of early Renaissance motets. The opening line is sung homophonically and has a harmonic structure that could pass for a modern-day hymn. There are repeated uses of what today we would call IV-V-I progressions. This gives the piece a soft, reverent sound. The rich texture of four part men’s chorus is maintained, with the exception of a brief moment of voice pairing, from beginning to end. This piece demonstrates, as well as any of the day, the new penchant for constructing sonorous, chordal sounds at the expense of extravagant counterpoint.
– Matthew Oltman


O Domine Jesu Christe, Pastor bone,
iustos conserva, peccatores iustifica,
omnibus fidelibus [defunctis] miserere,
et propitius esto mihi misero et indigno peccatori. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, good Shepherd,
who preserves the just and justifies sinners,
have mercy upon all the faithful [departed]
and be merciful to me, a wretched [and unworthy] sinner. Amen.

-Text attributed to Pope St. Gregory I (c540 – 604)