Osculetur me is one of many motets from the immediate pre-Reformation period that appropriate the eroticism of the Song of Songs to the ends of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This conflation of carnal desire with religious adoration had become popular from the twelfth century onwards, the troubadours having frequently sung love poems to an unattainable and chaste ‘domna’ (‘lady’). In the early sixteenth century, Song of Songs texts were often amended to include specific reference to Mary; this procedure is not adopted in the present motet, but instead the tenor line sings a cantus firmus, also taken from the Song of Songs: ‘Tota pulchra es, amica mea’ (‘You are all-beautiful, my love’). The six-part texture and the highly charged emotionalism of the text make this one of Manchicourt’s most opulent motets.
from notes by Stephen Rice © 2007