Although Willaert spent a long part of his life as chapel master of the Venetian basilica di San Marco, we know that he visited his native Flanders twice. His first visit, in 1542, left a compositional trace: the five-voice Laus tibi, sacra rubens
celebrates the Holy Blood, the relic of which is kept in Bruges at the eponymous chapel. The motet is based on a poem by Stephanus Comes which was published in the collection Sylvula carminum, non minus docta quam iucunda
(Bruges, 1544). The text is written in elegiac distichs and offers a brief survey of the history of the Holy Blood, from Christ’s crucifixion to its arrival in Bruges. It is a very expressive poem, both in terms of content and word-sound. In his setting, Willaert intensifies these qualities by effective musical means.
from notes by Katelijne Schiltz © 2010