MCE 7: Anonymous, Gaude flore virginali

Edited by Agnese Pavanello
This cycle is anonymously transmitted only in D-Mbs 3154. An ascription to Johannes Martini was proposed on the basis of a few stylistic details by NOBLITT 1963, 144–50, who, however, withdrew his hypothesis after having carried out the edition of the manuscript (EdM 83, 364, no. 31). No other proposal has been made subsequently.

D-Mbs 3154, ff. 38v-43r

Munich, Bayerische Stadtbibliothek, Mus. MS 3154 (‘Leopold Codex’)

Choirbook (ca. 314 × 220 mm; fols. 370–79 and 490–99 ca 298 × 211 mm); i + 472 paper folios; original ink foliation in two series: 1–200 (ff. 1-19, 88, 193 now missing) + 1–297; new foliation by Julius Joseph Meier (currently adopted). Contents: 26 Masses, 12 Mass Ordinary section (7 Kyries, one Gloria, 3 Credos, one Sanctus, one Agnus dei), 3 Mass Proper sections, 11 Magnificats, 2 motet cycles, 90 sets of other Latin sacred texts, 7 German secular pieces, one French secular piece, one Dutch secular piece, 20 textless pieces, 3 unidentified fragments = 187 + 4 duplicates = 191. Ca. 1466–1511, probably copied in Innsbruck by scribes associated with the imperial court chapel. One main scribe copied most of the first section of the manuscript; 42 additional scribes involved in the copying, especially in the second section made from many originally independent fascicles bound with the first section.

Edition: Thomas L. Noblitt, ed., Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold: Staatsbibliothek München Mus Ms. 3154, 4 vols, Das Erbe deutscher Musik 80–83 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1987–1996). New codicological description: Ian Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, in The Production and Reading of Music Sources: Mise-en-Page in Manuscripts and Printed Books Containing Polyphonic Music, 1480–1530, ed. Thomas Schmidt and Christian Thomas Leitmeir (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), 287–348.
On the manuscript see also Ian Rumbold and Reinhard Strohm,‘The Codex of Magister Nicolaus Leopold’, in Musikleben des Spätmittelalters in der Region Österreich, 2021 (accessed 18 June 2021)


All the motets in this cycle are unica in D-Mbs 3154 and were copied by Scribe A, the main hand in the first section of the manuscript. The source contains some errors and it is also rather inaccurate with regard to the text setting, which is mostly given only for the Cantus and Tenor voices, besides the incipits. Some accidentals are notated, but in two cases they seem unmotivated with regard to the pitch of the following notes. A particular way to notate the color can be observed in several places: a longa followed by a black semibrevis (or two black minimas) used as equivalent of a half-black longa.

The anonymous cycle Gaude flore virginali is one of the two motet cycles with loco rubrics related to the Mass liturgy entered in the manuscript Mus. Ms. 3154, known as the ‘Leopold Codex’, preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich.[1] The work, transmitted only in this source, was copied in the first and older section of the manuscript (gatherings i-xviii) by the main scribe, including the subsequent motet cycle Natus sapientia.[2] This section of the manuscript was originally copied and foliated separately, as was the second section, made from many originally independent fascicles (gatherings ixi-xlviii) bound together around 1511.[3] The continuous foliation and numbering of pieces were added in the nineteenth century.[4] Compiled over a period of time covering more than four decades (from around 1466 to around 1511) probably in Innsbruck by scribes associated with the church of St. Jacob and with the imperial court chapel,[5] the manuscript collects a large repertory of sacred music (mainly Mass movements, Magnificats, hymns, sequences, and motets) and a few secular pieces, mostly handed down anonymously.[6] A large number of scribes (forty-three scribes altogether) was involved in the copying especially in the second section of the manuscript. In the first part the scribe responsible of most of the copying work, whom Thomas Noblitt classified as Scribe A in his study and edition of this source, was joined by seven other copyists, whose interventions were limited to some additions to the main corpus of works.[7]

By studying and identifying the paper watermarks in the manuscript, Noblitt proposed specific dates for the gatherings and hence established a relative chronology within the different parts of the manuscript. According to his research, Gaude flore virginali, like the following Natus sapientia, was copied on paper produced in 1476.[8] One can thus assume that the copying took place around the same time.[9] Scribe A organized his work relatively systematically by genre.[10] It is not surprising, therefore, that he transcribed the two motet cycles with loco rubrics next to each other, beginning on the last verso of gathering iv and continuing on gathering v.

Gaude flore virginali and Natus sapientia are the only known fifteenth-century motet cycles explicitly, related to the Mass liturgy through paratexts, preserved in a source outside of Milan. The presence of loco rubrics as well as the inclusion of a section for the Elevation in consonant chordal polyphony make the function of the music as polyphony for the Mass manifest and directly connect the motets to the repertory of motetti missales in the Milanese Libroni. The shared features have led scholars to frame the Munich cycles historically in relation to the motetti missales and to assume for both a Milanese provenance or, alternatively, a direct relationship with the Milanese environment (at least in terms of knowledge of the local musical practice).[11] Briefly discussed in the dissertation of Gerhard Croll on the motets of Gaspar van Weerbeke,[12] the Munich cycles were first analysed in detail by Thomas Noblitt in his dissertation of 1963 focusing on the motetti missales repertory.[13] Noblitt pointed out the connection of these cycles to Milan and proposed for both an attribution to Johannes Martini on account of stylistic and especially biographical details. Since Martini worked in Milan in 1474 for the Sforza chapel together with Gaspar van Weerbeke and Loyset Compère and he was supposed to have had close contacts with Innsbruck and with Paul Hofhaimer in particular, Noblitt considered him the most probable candidate for composer of the Munich cycles.[14] Later, however, in his edition of Munich 3154, Noblitt withdrew his conjectural ascription.[15] No further attributions have been proposed.[16]

Gaude flore virginali consists of six motets, which partially bear loco rubrics similar to those attested in Loyset Compère’s cycles in the Milanese Libroni.[17]

no. motet rubric foliation
  Gaude flore virginali   38v–39r
2 Gaude sponsa cara   39v–40r
3 Gaude splendens   39v–40r
4 Gaude nexu voluntatis loco Offertorii 40v–41r
5 Gaude mater miserorum loco Sanctus 41v–42r
6 Gaude virgo mater pura loco Agnus 42v–43r

Although the first three motets were not supplied with rubrics, they were likely meant to be sung during earlier parts of the mass, possibly corresponding to the ‘loco Introitus’, ‘loco Gloria’ and ‘loco Patrem’ of the Milanese motetti missales.[18] The longer motet no. 5 ‘loco Sanctus’ includes a section ‘ad elevationen’ as well as a section ‘post elevationem’, although neither was provided with a specific heading. In fact motet no. 5 incorporates two of the seven stanzas of the poem on which the motet cycle is based as well as an interpolated prayer for the moment of the Elevation, characterized by an emphatic chordal style (beginning with ‘Domine Iesu propitius’).[19] The section serving as music ‘post elevationem’ contains the text of the stanza ‘Gaude humilis beata’. The longer motet thus corresponds to the Elevation-complex comprised by two motets (nos 5 and 6) in the cycles by Gaspar van Weerbeke and Loyset Compère included in this edition (MCE).[20] Although structured as six instead of eight motets,[21] the cycle Gaude flore with its internal subdivisions essentially matches the layout of the Milanese examples.[22] This induced Noblitt to present the cycle in his edition as the Milanese cycles are presented in the Libroni, thus arbitrarily splitting the fifth motet into two and adding the rubric ‘Ad elevationem’ for the part covering the sections ‘Domine Iesu propitius’ and the following ‘Gaude humilis beata’.[23] Noblitt’s presentation, however, obscures an essential aspect of the implicit performance practice, documented by this cycle and emerging from the analysis of the entire core corpus of the motetti missales. Namely, the consecration ritual was entirely encompassed by music, and the motets were meant to be sung continuously over the words of consecration, the Elevation, and the following prayers – regardless of their notation as visually separate or connected units or sections.[24]

Unlike the motet cycles by Weerbeke and Compère in the Milanese Libroni, Gaude flore virginali was composed using a single poem in seven stanzas, to which two brief textual supplements in the form of invocations were added (at the Elevation, as mentioned, and at the end).[25] This choice makes it clear that the multipartite work was conceived from the beginning as an unitary composition and that the motets were meant to be performed in the notated order. This is not necessarily true for the motet cycles that set various, distinct texts.[26] In this regard Gaude flore virginali is close to Natus sapientia, which is also based on a single rhythmic poem: there too the stanzas, related to the horologia passionis, are not interchangeable with each other and imply a consecutive performance.[27] Both Munich cycles therefore set in polyphony a single poetic text centred on a specific theme, suggesting that the idea of the motet cycle could have originated from that of the multi-stanza poem.[28]

Ascribed to Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, Gaude flore virginali is structured as a sequence, in which the spiritual joys of the Virgin Mary are praised.[29] According to rubrics recorded in various sources, its writing was inspired by the Virgin Mary herself: she appeared to Becket in order to give an account of her heavenly joys, in turn requiring adequate rejoicing by the faithful.[30] The prayer became popular because of its ascription to the saint and the deep significance attributed to the contemplation of Mary’s joys: it was thought that, thanks to this devotion, the faithful would enjoy the presence and assistance of the Virgin Mary at the moment of death. Prayers praising Mary’s joys were also provided with indulgences.[31] It is thus not surprising that the poem enjoyed a wide circulation as a sung prayer and that it was set to polyphony during the fifteenth century.[32] Singing it at Mass, as in the case of the Munich motet cycle, added a more personal dimension to the priest’s celebration of the Eucharist, since, as underlined above, it was believed to have beneficial effects for the faithful’s own life and afterlife. The choice of Gaude flore virginali for the composition of this motet cycle, therefore, was probably not motivated by an association to a specific liturgical feast, such as the Assumption, as Thomas Noblitt proposed.[33] Rather, the cycle provided music for a Marian prayer of particular significance that was appropriate to be recited or sung on many different occasions, especially within Marian services. The textual choice of the Munich setting discloses a direct connection with devotional practices, as attested in contemporary books of hours, and, more specifically, with the reciting or singing of ‘free’ prayers during mass.[34]

According to research carried out by Daniele Filippi in Milan, the poem Gaude flore virginali is attested in a Milanese manuscript dated 1476, but in a very different version than in the Munich cycle.[35] However, the poem seems to have enjoyed a wider circulation mainly in Northern Europe, particularly in England and in the Franco-Flemish area.[36] Interestingly, the Munich setting contains a textual variant specifically documented in Flanders. As Felix Diergarten has pointed out, ‘Gaude humilis beata’, the initial verse of the sixth stanza, is found in the version of the prayer transmitted in books of hours belonging to Charles the Bold and to Jacques de Luxembourg, a knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece during Charles’s rule.[37] This finding clearly places the Munich cycle in relation with the Franco-Flemish environment. If this suggests that the composer was Franco-Flemish, it becomes more difficult to maintain that the work had a Milanese ‘provenance’; at the very least, the connection needs to be plausibly explained.

There is thus a discrepancy between the textual evidence, which suggests a Flemish origin, and the musical evidence, in particular the Elevation section and the loco-rubrics, which connect the cycle to Milan. To explain this discrepancy, Diergarten has considered the idea that Gaude flore virginali might have been originated outside of Milan without the Elevation passage. He suggested that the Elevation music, considered as a ‘Milanese’ phenomenon, could have been added later to adapt the motet cycle for use at Mass in the manner of the Milanese motetti missales.[38] However, neither the transmission nor compositional details provide any support for this tentative idea.[39] Instead, recent research has shown that, within the motetti missales repertory in the Libroni, a substantial number of poems are directly related to the Franco-Flemish region.[40] This gives greater credibility to the view that Northern practices of singing at mass, involving a polyphonic or multi-voice setting of various prayer texts, might have been important antecedents for the motet cycles by Franco-Flemish composers in the Milanese Libroni. This should also be taken into account when considering the provenance of Gaude flore virginale. Recent research has also revealed practices of singing at the Elevation in Franco-Flemish areas,[41] allowing one to reasonably assume that the work might have been composed outside of Milan with the Elevation section.

Recent studies have underlined the textual and stylistic connections between the motetti missales by Compère and Weerbeke and genres such as sequences and hymns, associated with simple forms of polyphony.[42] In this context, a setting such as Gaude flore virginali acquires a unique position: it provides an important example of the use of rhythmic prayers in longer multi-voice compositions sung during Mass, especially during the canon of the Mass, during which the words of the priest could not be heard by the congregation. The polyphonic setting of a sequence-like poem, in fact, suggests that, within the large repertory of sacred poetry broadly cultivated and employed in various functions, some prayers – detached from their original context, liturgical or otherwise – might have been used in Mass services long before the period in which the Milanese and Munich motetti missales originated.[43] Pending further research, both Gaude flore virginali and the other Munich cycle witness an interaction between devotional and liturgical practices during mass that encourages an investigation of the phenomenon of the motetti missales from a broader, not strictly local perspective – especially when one considers the enormous musical heritage that has been lost, in Flanders in particular.[44]

As discussed elsewhere,[45] in the cyclic works of the Franco-Flemish composers active in Milan we find rhythmic patterns and melodic turns belonging to a long tradition of simple polyphony, associated with genres of rhythmic prayer such as hymns or sequences.[46] Even though Gaude flore set a rhythmic prayer and is functionally similar to the Milanese motet cycles by Compère and Weerbeke, it embodies a very different compositional approach.[47] Prominent features of the motet cycles by the aforementioned Franco-Flemish composers, such as phrases marked by clear-cut cadences, paired voices, extended homophonic texture with sesquialtera passages, and use of imitation are not characteristic of the Munich cycle, where a fully polyphonic, non-imitative texture prevails. Despite the rhythm of the poem, the cycle avoids a clear declamation of the text, and the musical flow is only rarely interrupted by full cadences as points of articulation. The polyphonic setting appears to be intentionally conceived in an ‘elevated’ style, turning away from the declamatory mode of polyphony echoing the recitation patterns of prayers. By contrast, the motet cycles by Compère and Weerbeke are more refined in their contrapuntal writing but at the same time purposely oriented to or inspired by recitation formulae and the forms of simple polyphony associated with their texts. The results of a stylistic comparison, then, call into question the idea of the motetti missales as a corpus defined by function and style. As Diergarten pointed out in his close and insightful examination of Gaude flore virginali, the concept of a ‘Milanese style’, generally used to refer to the core group of the motetti missales, is problematic in general and especially inappropriate for the Munich cycle.[48] Not only is it inadequate to describe the cycles by Compère and Weerbeke, but it is also unhelpful to describe the broader Milanese musical tradition, which cannot be defined concretely or univocally.[49]

In his dissertation, Noblitt provided an effective description of the stylistic features of Gaude flore virginali,[50] pointing out the most relevant aspects mentioned above and highlighting the means used by the composer – in addition to the clefs, modus and time signature[51] – to create relationships between the individual motets: for example, the long sustained sonorities in the openings and the common use of some motivic material. Even if no cantus firmus has yet been identified, Noblitt recognized the presence of at least one pre-existing melody, on which the composer based the Elevation section and which he reused in the last motet of the cycle.[52] By arguing that the Elevation section was possibly added at a later point, Diergarten had to explain why the same melody was used in a different motet. He suggested the composer might have decided to employ a melody already included in the cycle in order to create a link with the music already written. Even if this cannot be ruled out, analysis of the cycle suggests a different explanation: that the last two motets were intentionally connected by this pre-existing melodic material for some special reason. Here the composer probably aimed to build stronger unity between the motets, in particular for the only motet that begins with a duo. More importantly, it seems intentional that the composer used this melody specifically for the two textual interpolations to the poem Gaude flore virginali, thus musically highlighting the more personal character of those short prayers.[53]

Alongsite the stylistic features underlined by Noblitt and Diergarten, Gaude flore virginali is characterized by sometimes inelegant contrapuntal writing, with dissonant passing notes (even on a strong beat),[54] awkward passages with ‘mi contra fa’ collisions,[55] irregular or clumsy leaps[56] as well as parallel motion in fifths and octaves.[57] Such ‘irregularities’ occurring in the manuscript cannot be merely explained as copying errors; instead, they should be considered compositional features and are strongly related to a linear contrapuntal conception.[58] In performance, this linear conception is compelling in its own fashion.[59]

As a whole, Gaude flore virginali shows peculiarities and features that distinguish it from the adjacent motet cycle Natus sapientia, the compositional style of which reveals a more careful hand.[60] The proximity of the two cycles in the manuscript, provided with rubrics referring to sections of the mass, and some additional common stylistic features led Noblitt and some subsequent scholars to believe that both motet cycles must be the creation of the same composer, but significant stylistic differences can be detected. The results of an experiment carried out by Cory McKay with Jsymbolic, involving the computational analysis of many compositional parameters, suggest that the two Munich cycles are the work of two different composers.[61] Interestingly, the computational analysis suggests that Martini might in fact be the composer of Gaude flore virginali; the other cycle is classified as stylistically closer to the music of Josquin des Prez.[62] While these attributions remain conjectural, it is intriguing that the former coincides with Noblitt’s earlier proposal. If his intuition was based mostly on biographical details, this result suggests it might also have more stylistic support than one might have thought. In the absence of firm data, the question of attribution will have to remain open, but the computational experiment warns us against assuming uncritically that both Munich cycles must be by a single composer. It should also be taken into account that Scribe A may have intended to arrange the contents of the manuscript systematically, which could also explain the juxtaposition of similar works by different composers.

The present edition differs from the previous one published by Noblitt in many aspects. In addition to maintaining the original note values and mensuration signs, this edition also retains the overall formal design consisting of six motets, as presented in the Munich source, without adding any loco-rubrics absent in that source. In the manuscript the full text is given mostly just in the Superius and in the Tenor voices, while the other voices have only incipits (with the exception of the full-texted Elevation passage). While Noblitt limited his edition to including the text present in the source, this edition provides all voices with text underlay.[63] This decision was taken in order to facilitate a four-voice vocal performance and in consideration of the habits of the scribe, who often left the text setting incomplete in the manuscript. In the first section of Munich 3154 he mostly notated the text just in the Superius, in the Tenor in some cases, with the other voices receiving only incipits.

As stated in the Editorial Methods, the text underlay is to be regarded more as a suggestion than a prescriptive solution. Additional accidents have been added sparingly where considered necessary. Because of the peculiar writing habits of the composer, false relations occurring at many places are intentionally retained. Editorial interventions in the music are restricted to corrections of errors and listed in the critical apparatus.[64]

*I would like to thank Paul Kolb for his careful reading of my text and for his useful suggestions.

[1] According to inscriptions in gatherings xxvii, xxxvii and xlvii mentioning Nicolaus Leopold of Innsbruck, the manuscript or at least some sections of it once belonged to Leopold, a schoolmaster documented in Innsbruck and, after 1514, in Brixen. For more information on Nicolaus Leopold, see Ewald Fässler, ‘Zur Lebensgeschichte des Nicolaus Leopold aus Innsbruck’, in: Festschrift Walter Senn zum 70. Geburtstag (Munich and Salzburg: Katzbichler, 1975), 29–35; Thomas L. Noblitt, Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold: Staatsbibliothek München Mus Ms. 3154, 4 vols, Das Erbe deutscher Musik 80–83 (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1987–1996), I: vii–viii.

[2] See MCE 8 edited by Cristina Cassia.

[3] The two sections respectively consist of folios 1–200, of which 1–19 are now lost, and 1–297. See Noblitt, Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold, iv: 313–17. For a recent description of the manuscript, see Ian Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, in The Production and Reading of Music Sources: Mise-en-Page in Manuscripts and Printed Books Containing Polyphonic Music, 1480–1530, ed. Thomas Schmidt and Thomas Christian Leitmeir (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018), 287–348.

[4] The foliation and the numbering of the pieces – to which we refer in this edition – were carried out by Julius Joseph Maier (in blue pencil) during a cataloging project of the music manuscripts of the library. See Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, 285.

[5] Concerning the suggestion that Munich 3154 originated in the environment of the church of St. Jacob in Innsbruck, see Ian Rumbold and Reinhard Strohm,‘The Codex of Magister Nicolaus Leopold’, in Musikleben des Spätmittelalters in der Region Österreich, 2021 (accessed 18 June 2021).

[6] 148 compositions are unattributed, whereas only 26 carry an ascription.

[7] Noblitt’s classification of the copying is given in the overview of the repertory in Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold, iv: 341–57. On the production of the manuscript and the scribal activity as distributed in the different gatherings, see the detailed description in Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, 294–310; moreover the recent, articulated discussion on the manuscript with a synopsis of the codex in Rumbold and Strohm,‘The Codex of Magister Nicolaus Leopold’. In this study, Scribe A is tentatively identified with Wolfgang Unterstetter, the schoolmaster of St. Jacob from 1466 to 1478, and still active for the institution until 1485.

[8] See Thomas Noblitt, ‘Die Datierung der Handschrift Mus. Ms. 3154 der Staatsbibliothek München’, Die Musikforschung, 27, no. 1 (1974), 36–56, at 38 and 46–47.

[9] The re-dating of the copying work made on the same paper as proposed by Joshua Rifkin for Josquin’s Ave Maria…virgo serena on the basis of paleographical features does not have implications for the dating of the motet cycles. See Joshua Rifkin, ‘Munich, Milan, and a Marian Motet: Dating Josquin’s “Ave Maria … virgo serena”’, Journal of the American Musicological Society 56, no. 2 (2003), 239–350, at 285–307.

[10] Noblitt, ‘Die Datierung der Handschrift Mus. Ms. 3154 der Staatsbibliothek München’, 45; Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, 293.

[11] An example of a recent statement of the Milanese provenance of the Munich cycles can be found in Joshua Rifkin, ‘Milan, Motet Cycles, Josquin: Further Thoughts on a Familiar Topic’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, ed. Daniele V. Filippi and Agnese Pavanello, Scripta 7 (Basel: Schwabe, 2019), 221–336, at 222–24.

[12] See Gerhard Croll, ‘Das Motettenwerk Gaspars van Weerbeke’ (Ph.D. diss., Georg-August Universität, 1954), 184. This dissertation is available at (21 April 2021).

[13] See Thomas L. Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Texas, 1963), 64–150.

[14] See Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth, 144–50.

[15] See Noblitt, Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold, iv: 364, no. 31.

[16] On the question of the authorship see below.

[17] See Daniele V. Filippi’s edition of Compère’s cycles (MCE 1, MCE 3) and of Ave domine Iesu Christe (MCE 2).

[18] Since motets nos. 2 and 3 are relatively short, they were copied on the same opening. On this mise-en-page see Rumbold, ‘Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Mus. Ms. 3154’, 315–16.

[19] See the Commentary on the text in this edition.

[20] See MCE 1–3, 5–6.

[21] The division into six motets is made taking into account the mise-en-page and especially the relation between the structure of the poem, with its text units, and the presence of initials. The motets end on Longas without any dividing lines or line breaks. Despite being on the same opening, as mentioned, motets 2 and 3 are counted as separate units, each of which sets one stanza of the poem, as suggested by the initials. 

[22] A motet ‘loco Deo gratias’ is not present in this cycle. Worth noticing is however that the motet no. 6 with the rubric ‘loco Agnus’ is longer than the previous ones. The case of Gaffurius’s Salve mater salvatoris, structured in four main parts, makes in any case clear that a cyclic motet performance covering the Eucharistic liturgy did not imply an invariable number of units. Concerning Salve mater salvatoris, see Cristina Cassia, ‘Introduction’ to MCE 4.

[23] On Noblitt’s editorial decision see Felix Diergarten’s observations in ‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?’ in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 429–55, at 434–35.

[24] On this aspect, see Agnese Pavanello, ‘The Elevation as Liturgical Climax in Gesture and Sound: Milanese Elevation Motets in Context’, Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 9, no. 1 (2017), 33–59.

[25] For the poem as transmitted in the Munich manuscript, see the Commentary on the text in this edition; moreover, see Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century, 65–66; id., Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold, iv: 264;  Diergarten,‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?’, 433, and The Motet Cycle Database (, T245, T247 (accessed 21 April 2021).

[26] Cf. in particular the Introduction to MCE 5 and MCE 6.

[27] Since the poem Natus sapientia recalls the hours of Jesus’s Passion, following the chronological order of events, the disposition of the stanzas should be maintained, even though not all references to the hours given in the hymn text are maintained in the Munich version. For a discussion of Natus Sapientia in the context of a long tradition of devotional mnemonic exercises on the Passion, see Fañch Thoraval, ‘“Horologia Passionis”: Hours, Hymns and Motet Cycles for the Cross and the Passion’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 93–132.

[28] That the work was based on one poem also suggests that it was probably meant to be performed continuously. On the idea that motetti missales might have been performed consecutively in a (more or less) continuous performance at Low masses, see Daniele V. Filippi, ‘“Audire missam non est verba missae intelligere...”: The Low Mass and the Motetti missales in Sforza Milan’, Journal of the Alamire Foundation, 9, no. 1 (2017), 11–32.

[29] On this poem and its metrical form, the ‘Stabat mater’ strophe (adopted in sequences but characteristic of hymns) and the use of a chain of salutations (‘Gaude’) at the opening of the stanzas, see Hana Vlhová-Wörner, ‘Liturgical Poetry and Poetical Liturgy: The Texts of Motet Cycles as a Continuation of Earlier Compositional Practice’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 135–56, at 149–50.

[30] See Richard Gameson, ‘Becket in Horae: The Commemoration of the Saint in Private Prayer Books of the Later Middle Ages’, Journal of the British Archaeological Association 173, no. 1 (2020), 143–73, at 151–52.

[31] See the examples cited in Agnese Pavanello, ‘Praying to Mary: Another Look at Gaspar van Weerbeke’s Marian Motetti Missales’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 339–80, at 372, n. 90.

[32] On previous polyphonic settings, see for instance the examples listed in The Motet Cycles Database, (accessed 21 April 2021).

[33] Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century’, 67–68; id., Der Kodex des Magister Nicolaus Leopold, 364.

[34] Contemporary books of hours included Gaude flore virginali among the prayers to the Virgin Mary and attest to the custom of prayers during mass drawing from sources independent from the official liturgy. For examples of books with Gaude flore virginali, see Victor Leroquais, Les livres d’heures manuscrits de la Bibliothèque nationale, 3 vols, (Paris: [Maçon, Protat frères, impr.], 1927 (Suppl. vol. 4, Paris 1943), ad indicem. ‘Free prayers’ refers to texts not directly included in the liturgy of the day, which educated people could read from their own prayer books during the service.

[35] Filippi, ‘“Audire missam non est verba missae intelligere...”, 29. Another occurrence has been found in a prayer book from the first half of the fifteenth century, held in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, which is of uncertain origin and probably not Milanese (just three stanzas of the poem are copied as last prayer). See Daniele V. Filippi, ‘Where Devotion and Liturgy Meet: Re-Assessing the Milanese Roots of the Motetti Missales’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 53–91, at 85.

[36] A circulation in the North is clearly suggested by the sources collected in Analecta hymnica (AH 31, no. 189, p. 198) as discussed in Diergarten, ‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?, 434.

[37] See The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold, The J. Paul Getty Museum, MS 37, fol. 10r (facs. edn.,

Lucerne 2007); Anon., ‘Un manuscrit du XVe siècle des Archives municipales de Roubaix’, Bulletin

Mensuel, 30 (1930), Société d’Etudes de la province de Cambrai, 56, cited from Diergarten, ibid. The book of hours belonged to Charles the Bold was made in 1469. The book prepared for Jacques de Luxembourg is dated to the same period (between 1466 and 1470). Images and short descriptions of the prayer books are also available on the website of the Getty Museum, under Collection (Object 1511 and 1395, respectively).

[38] Diergarten, ‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?, 436.  

[39] For my arguments against Diergarten’s suggestion, see below.

[40] Particularly telling in this regard is that Weerbeke’s motet cycle Ave mundi domina is mostly based on texts circulating in Franco-Flemish areas. See the Introduction to MCE 5. Specifically on the Marian sequence In honore matris dei, apparently unique to Cambrai, used in Ave domine Iesu Christe, see Daniele Filippi’s introduction to MCE 2. Concerning the connection of Compère’s Hodie nobis de virgine with a ‘tradition of Franco-Flemish Christmas motets with hyper-composite texts’ see Filippi’s Introduction to MCE 1.

[41] On Elevation music as a broad phenomenon not limited to Milan, and on Elevation prayers, in particular O salutaris hostia, set to music in Franco-Flemish areas in the fifteenth century preceding the production of the Milanese Libroni, see Pavanello, ‘The Elevation as Liturgical Climax in Gesture and Sound’, 33–59.

[42] For an wider perspective of the musical ‘antecedents’ to the motet cycles of Compère and Weerbeke, formerly often connected specifically to the Italian Lauda, see the contributions to Motet Cycle between Devotion and Liturgy and in particular Vlhová-Wörner, ‘Liturgical Poetry and Poetical Liturgy: The Texts of Motet Cycles as a Continuation of Earlier Compositional Practice’ (135–56); Marco Gozzi, ‘Sequence Texts in Transmission’ (157–87); and Pavanello, ‘Praying to Mary: Another Look at Gaspar van Weerbeke’s Marian Motetti Missales’ (339–80).

[43] As Marco Gozzi underlined in ‘Sequence Texts in Transmission’ at 162–63, hymns and sequences, and rhythmic poetry in general, served didactic purposes in schools as well as being used for personal or collective worship in public or private sacred spaces. The spectrum of possible uses of those texts was indeed very large, and this should be kept in mind when considering the textual choices in polyphonic settings.

[44] As paradigmatically expressed in the title of an important contribution by Joshua Rifkin on the topic (‘A black hole? Problems in the motet around 1500’, in The motet around 1500: on the relationship of imitation and text treatment?, ed. Thomas Schmidt-Beste, Turnhout: Brepols, 2012, 21–82), most of the motet repertory of the Franco-Flemish area from the end of the fifteenth century has been lost. That means that we do not have sources comparable to the Libroni for the region where the Franco-Flemish composers active in Milan were trained. At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that the Libroni represent the first polyphonic sources linked to the Milanese cathedral and, indirectly, to the Sforza court.

[45]See n. 42.

[46] On Weerbeke’s cycles see in particular Pavanello, ‘Praying to Mary: Another Look at Gaspar van Weerbeke’s Marian Motetti Missales’; on Compère’s motet cycles see Daniele Filippi’s introductions to MCE 1, MCE 2 and MCE 3.

[47] See Diergarten, ‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?’.

[48] The idea of a ‘Milanese style’, common in musicological scholarship, has been recently questioned by Clare Bokulich, ‘Contextualizing Josquin’s ‚Ave Maria…virgo Serena’, The Journal of Musicology 34, no. 2 (2017), 182–240.

[49] Since no Milanese sources of sacred music of the pre-Gaffurian period have survived and the Libroni include mostly music by Gaffurius, in addition to a large quantity of Franco-Flemish works, it is impossible to establish what should be defined as Milanese polyphony or the Milanese style. With regard to the features considered as typical of the ‘Milanese style’, Diergarten made an interesting comparison with another setting of Gaude flore virginali preserved in the Trent manuscript 89 (I-TRbc, Ms. 1376 [olim Trent 89]) and dating back at least to the middle 1460s. The Trent Gaude flore setting, possibly of English origin and thus unrelated to Milan, in fact displays many stylistic features shared by the Milanese motet cycles by Compère and Weerbeke. Offering a notable example of a polyphonic setting related to this special prayer, namely a text with an already well established literary and musical tradition, this example makes clear that still very little is known about the production and circulation of polyphonic music in the fifteenth century as well as the stylistic features or tendencies associated with specific musical environments. See Diergarten, ‘“Gaude Flore Virginali” – Message from the “Black Hole”?, 449–51.

[50] Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century’, 64–97.

[51] Tempus imperfectum diminutum is used in all motets; in addition, the last two motets include a passage in sesquialtera. On the whole, triple time is scarcely used in comparison to the motet cycles by Compère and Weerbeke. On this topic, see the analytical observations made by Clare Bokulich in ‘Meter and the “Motetti Missales”’, in Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy, 397–427.

[52] The melody has not been identified so far, but particularly its re-use suggests that the composer utilized a pre-extant melody. See  Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century’, 94–95.

[53] The connection created by the use of the same melody only at these two places might be read also as indication that the motets built a continuous flow of music and were meant to be performed consecutively. Under this perspective, the choice to begin the last motet with a duo instead of the full texture would acquire a new significance from a formal point of view.

[54] For instance, Gaude flore virginali, m. 44.

[55] For instance, Gaude sponsa cara dei, m. 24 or Gaude mater miserorum, m. 4.

[56] For instance, Gaude nexu voluntatis, Bass, A (creating a fourth with the Altus); or Gaude virgo mater pura, m. 35, Bass A (same situation).

[57] For instance, the octave leaps between Altus and Bass in Gaude virgo mater pura, mm. 87–88.

[58] The composition style makes the application of editorial accidentals (ficta) particularly challenging. I am indebted to Bonnie Blackburn for her thoughts on some of the difficult passages.

[59] A memorable performance directed by Dominique Vellard with singers and players of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis took place in Basel on 8th April 2016 during the conference ‘Motet Cycles between Devotion and Liturgy’.

[60] For an analytical description of the cycle see Noblitt, ‘The “Motetti Missales” of the Late Fifteenth Century’, 98–130.

[61] See Cory McKay, ‘Exploring Composer Attribution in Motet Cycles Using Machine Learning’, Gaffurius Codices Online, 2021 (accessed 10 June 2021).

[62] Ibid. As McKay specifies, however, the results might also point to the work of one composer intentionally writing in different styles.

[63] Noblitt gave a diplomatic transcription of the text; the present edition instead links to images of the original source. 

[64] The emendation at m. 25 of Gaude mater miserorum involving a change of the Sb e to Mi e, suggested by Joshua Rifkin in order to create a closer imitation and eliminate the fifths, has not been accepted, since it would require an additional intervention at m. 28 to compensate for the changed values (Rifkin, ‘Milan, Motet Cycles, Josquin: Further Thoughts on a Familiar Topic’, 317, n. 298). In consideration of the contrapuntal writing of the whole cycle the version in the manuscript has been maintained.

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MCE 07-01 Gaude flore virginali
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MCE 07-02 Gaude sponsa cara dei
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MCE 07-03 Gaude splendens vas virtutum
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MCE 07-04 Gaude nexu voluntatis
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MCE 07-05 Gaude mater miserorum
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MCE 07-06 Gaude virgo mater pura
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