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Robert Parsons
c.1530 - 1570
Great Britain, England
Picture
R. Parsons
Robert Parsons (c.1530 - 25/01/1570) an English composer, born in Exeter.
Source:Riemann Musik Lexicon
Robert Parsons (c. 1535-1572) was an English composer. Although little is known about the life of Robert Parsons, it is likely that in his youth he was a choir boy, as until 1561 he was an assistant to Richard Bower, Master of the Children Choristers of the Chapel Royal. Parsons was appointed Gentleman of the Chapel Royal on 17th October 1563. His work consisted of a number of sacred and secular vocal compositions, including his Ave Maria, as well as some instrumental pieces. He is believed to have died in January 1572 when he fell into the then swollen River Trent and was drowned. He may have been a teacher of, or at least an influence on, William Byrd at Lincoln Cathedral. Byrd succeeded him as Gentleman of the Chapel Royal.
Libera me
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:Motet a 5 vocibus inaequales
Text/libretto:Latin from the Exsequiarum Ordo de Officium Defunctorum
Duration:6'45
Label(s):Naxos 8.570451
Vox Foris MMPA001
The ”Libera me Domine de morte” in general is a motet from the Exsequiarum Ordo more specific a Responsorium sung during the final blessing of the coffin on its catafalque. This Libera me. (there are more (4) plain-chant variations known) is an old Responsorium out of the In Exsequis and sung in the part Absolutio super tulum and is published in the old Liber Usualis pages 1763 – 1771. But following the text Parsons uses a text version of one of the known old Responds nr. 38 followed by the Versicle nr. 55 and repeated by a part of the Respond from “quando” which in this case is normal. Here we see some rare Versicles situated and also used in England and found in sources in Oxford. This Respond is found in Glastonbury and used in the Third Nocturn but other sources proving the use too of this Respond with different Versicles at the continent. This ‘Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna’ is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 38. They vary per region all through Europe. In this case Parsons uses the text of the Respond nr. 38 together with versicle nr. 55. This large motet Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna is written in an imitative polyphonic counterpoint for five voices (CAATB). The total Respond consists out of 117 bars. Parsons uses polyphonic imitative style. The Altus 1 starts followed by Altus 2, Cantus, Bassus and at least Tenor. All voices start in an imitation of the plainchant imbedding the tuning for Tenor which starts in bar 12. Moreover Parsons quotes in the Tenor as a cantus firmus a free version of the whole plainchant, starting as mentioned after all voices. This respond is very long and in accordance with the Gregorian tradition part of the Respond in this case “quando coeli movendo“ is repeated from bar 38 up to the second end/fine ”et terra” in bar 50. In this moving music Parsons vividly paints the horrors and pains of the final Judgment Day. All the Latin settings and motets we will see display Parsons’s technical virtuosity and compositional maturity. Here you can see, Parsons vocal writing is very gifted. In this website we commented three surviving Responds by Robert Parsons out of the Officium Defunctorum in England associated with the burial service and Sarum rites. We enjoy this three Respond settings despite the problem that Reform caused those Tudor musicians at that time on Catholic liturgical compositions. But Parsons like others did looked profoundly to the works of the Netherlandish colleagues at the continent and their excellent founding principles. This work appears in the Christ Church Music 979-983, about 1580-1600.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text:
R.Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in die illa tremenda
quando coeli movendi sunt et terra dum veneris judicare saeculum per ignem.
V.Dies irae, dies illa, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.
R. Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra.
Translation:
R.Deliver me, O Lord, from eternal death, on that fearful day,
when the heavens and the earth are moved,
when you will come to judge the world through fire.
V.That day, the day of wrath, calamity, and misery, that terrible
and exceedingly bitter day.
R.When the heavens and the earth are moved.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Peccantem me quotidie
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:Motet à 5 vocibus inaequalium
Text/libretto:Latin out of de Officium Defunctorum
Duration:4'14''
Label(s):Naxos 8.570451
Vox Foris MMPA001
“Peccantem me quotidie” is a motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum Ad Matutinum composed by Parsons for five voices (CAATB). Unfortunately the Tenor part has lost. So we have a four part version remain of this Respond Peccantem me quotidie. But in the mentioned labels on CD we will hear an added Tenor part. That part is reconstructed among others by Mick Swithinbank, Michael Procter did so in his edition with a look to the Cantus part. The Peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium, Respond which is still published in the old Liber Usualis page 1797 and is sung after Lectio VII in the third Nocturn. But Parsons uses in this case the text of the Respond nr. 68 which is not published in the Liber usualis. This used version of the Peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used all over Europe during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 68. The choice of texts and the order in which they occur in the sources vary according to local uses! Parsons has written this Respond motet without the belonging Versicle of the Office of the Dead, Commissa mea nr. 34. Perhaps Parsons uses the York office, or Cluny sources, or other sources. In this case Parsons uses the text of the Respond nr. 68. In a imitative peaceful quite polyphonic counterpoint the parts following each other, starting with Altus 2, followed by Tenor, Cantus, Bassus and Altus 1. The motet in total contains 62 bars. Moreover Parsons quotes in the Altus I as a cantus firmus a free version of the whole plainchant, starting in the last voice in bar 10. Particularly in this Respond Parsons uses sharps to express his feelings and more to underline the fervency of the used text. In this piece contrary to the “Libera me Domine” Parsons wrote nearly one note per syllable, excluded the part in cantus firmus, Altus 1. This work appears in the Christ Church Music 979-983, about 1580-1600.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text:
R. Peccantem me quotidie et non penitentem me, timor mortis conturbat me, quia in inferno nulla est redemptio. Miserere mei, deus, et salva me.
Translation:
R. The fear of death overwhelms me, who sin every day and not repent: for in hell there is no redemption. Have mercy on me, O God and spare me.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Credo quod Redemptor meus
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:motet à 6 vocibus inqequalium
Text/libretto:Latin out of de Officium Defunctorum
Duration:3'28''
Label(s):Naxos 8.570451
Vox Foris MMPA001
CCC 18998
The “Credo quod Redemptor meus” is a motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum ad Matutinum. In general a Responsory from Matins of the Office of the Dead. The Credo quod Redemptor is an old Responsorium and still published in the old Liber Usualis page 1785 and sung after Lesson I - Lectio primo - out of The Office of the Dead in the first Nocturn. But Parsons uses in this case the text of the Respond nr. 14 which is not published in the Liber usualis and set this Respond for six voices (CCAATB). This “Credo quod Redemptor meus” is an old Responsorium. There are about 138 Responsoria de Officium Defunctorum, Responds from Office of the Dead known and used all over Europe during centuries in the Office of the Dead. They are all well ordered, this is number 14. Really all over Europe you see the use of this specific Respond Credo quod Redemptor meus. This setting by Parsons consists out of 52 bars. In the first note “Credo” Parsons choses in each part for a symbolic “longus” a long note, to underline I believe. Contrary to the “Libera me” this respond is written in a more modest setting with some paired homophonic phrases in it and Parsons wrote nearly one note per syllable as we saw in the “Peccantem me quotidie”. Parsons uses imitative polyphonic settings but not as rich as we saw in other sacred settings. The used style is more modest and not vividly. In this case Parsons uses no plainchant as a cantus firmus, but some fine sharps are used to express the feelings of the text.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text of this Respond:
R. Credo quod redemptor meus vivit et in novissimo die de terra surrecturus sum et in carne mea videbo deum Salvatorem meum.
Translation:
R. I believe that my redeemer liveth, and that I shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and in my flesh shall I see God, my saviour.
Contributor:Wim Goossens