is a substantial motet by virtue of having two halves. Many composers of the period, including Palestrina, liked to work with this format because it gave them the opportunity for the symmetrical restatement of material. in Surge propera
the use of the two halves is strictly mathematical. This elaborate motet is unusual in having a long-note, so-called cantus firmus, chant part. This is given to the second sopranos, who sing an ostinato made up of the first five notes of the chant melody associated with the words ‘Veni, sponsa Christi’ (‘Come, bride of Christ’); and they also very deliberately sing these words against the voluptuous text of the other parts, thus sanctifying the sensuousness of the love poetry of the Song of Songs. Guerrero set this love poetry in the other parts with suitably diaphanous music, while tempering it with the chant which is quite severely disposed according to the kind of abstract pattern which might have been found in music of a hundred years earlier. At the beginning of the motet the chant motif starts on a C, and in five statements descends by step until it reaches F. In the second half it starts on F and rises back up to C, meaning that the piece ends with the part on its highest notes. Such a complicated marriage of texts and musical styles was not usual by the 1570s, when Surge propera
was published, and it poses some exceptional interpretative challenges.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 2005