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Robert White
c.1535 - 1574
Great Britain, England
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R. White
Robert White - Whyte - (ca. 1535 - 1574), an English composer probably born in Holborn. He was a son of an organ builder. White was a chorister and adult singer at Trinity College in Cambridge (1554-1562). In 1560 White took the Cambridge Music Bachelorship from Cambridge University. In succession of his father in law Christopher Tye (c.1500-c.1572) he was appointed Master of the Choristers at Ely Cathedral. In 1566 Robert White went to Chester Cathedral and accepted the same post. In 1570 White was appointed organist and master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. Robert White and his family unfortunately died in a virulent outbreak of plague in the Westminster area. His music falls into two groups: those written for Catholic use at the time of Queen Mary (1516-1558) and those written during Elizabeth’s (1533-1603) reign. A lot of White compositions survived among others in the Dow Partbooks with eleven Latin sacred compositions and in the Philip Gyffard Partbooks c. 1580 with one piece. Some keyboard and violin pieces survived.
Author:Wim Goossens
Libera me Domine de morte
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:Motet a 4 vocibus inaequales
Text/libretto:Latin from the Exsequiarum Ordo de Officium Defunctorum
Duration:5'52
Label(s):CDE 84313
The ”Libera me Domine de morte” is in general a plainchant from the Exsequiarum Ordo more specific a Responsorium sung during the final blessing of the coffin on its catafalque “absolutum super tumulum” see Liber Usualis (ed. 1936 page 1767). Indeed this 1st Respond out of the Office of the Dead is on the other hand sung at the beginning of the Absolutio pro defunctis, so after the Missa pro Defunctis, see the Liber Usualis (ed. 1936 page 1824). The whole Exsequarium ordo is published in the old Liber Usualis (ed. 1936 pages 1763 – 1771). The Libera Domine de Morte aeterna is a well-known Respond, there are more (4) plain-chant variations known. This motet by Robert White is set for four voices ATTB.
Following the text Robert White uses some variations (see V2 from “quid ergo miserimus”) at the end of this Respond which are not confirmed in the old Liber Usualis. In the Sancte Deus by Tallis (1505-1585) fragments of these text are used too and the used Latin by Tallis text is placed between brackets. So there is a connection too between the Sarum Rite and Roman Rite in this piece. In the Burnet Psalter fifteenth Century we examined the Office of the Dead ff 273-278. The first two sentences of the Versus “Quid ergo miserimus” is used but in the place of the “Nunc Christe” we saw another sentence “Creator omnium\ rerum deus etc.” We examined more differences in the Liber Usualis is used as 9th Respond the Libera me Domine de viis and not the Libera me Domine de morte! This Responsorium “de viis” is mentioned as aliud Responsorum in the Burnet Psalter. So there are more possibilities in the Sarum Rite.
This very large (with repeats) motet Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna in exsequiis, consisting out of 139 bars, is written in imitative polyphonic style. The motet starts with the prescribed plainchant “Libera me.” The whole plainchant is placed and quoted all in semi-brevis in the Tenor “Medius” during the whole Respond. Robert White uses some fine dissonant in this piece. In a matter of word-painting, the “Dies illa” (from bar 65) is set for three lower voices TTB, from “Quid ergo miserimus” (bar 89) Robert White uses another combination of three voices ATT. There are two moments in which Robert White prescribes a repeat to earlier sections. In Roman Rite is it normal but here we see other repeats. From bar 88 there is a first return to bar 24 “Quando coeli movendi” up to bar 65 and a second repeat is indicated at bar 113 to bar 35 “Dum veneris” up to bar 65. Thereafter at the end of the last mentioned repeat the last phrase of the Versicle from “Nunc Christe” (bar 114) starts and is again set for four voices ATTB. An extra flat (e) is used by White in the Contratenor and in the Bassus in the whole piece. This motet is set by Robert White in g-Dorian. This motet was found in the British Library London mss 17802-5 ff 113 up to 121 and published by www.stephenpegler.co.uk and available.
Author:Wim Goossens
Text Responsorium:
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 illa, dies irae, calamitatis et miseriae, dies magna et amara valde.

V2 Quid ergo miserimus, quid dicam vel quid faciam
Dum nihil boni perferam, ante tantum judicem?
[Nunc Christe te petimus miserere quesumus,]
[Qui venisti redimere per ditos noli perdere redemptos].

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, of calamity, and misery
A great and bitter day indeed.

V2 What, unlucky me, shall I say and what shall I do?
When I bring nothing good in front of such a judge?
Now Lord, we beg you, have mercy we beseech you.
You who come to redeem the lost, do not damn those you have redeemed.
Contributor:Wim Goossens