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Surge propera amica mea

1570; 6vv
author of text
Song of Songs 2: 10-13

The influence of Josquin’s ostinato techniques is seen in the music of Francisco Guerrero, an older Spanish contemporary and acquaintance of Victoria, and the best known composer in the Iberian world in the later sixteenth century. Josquin’s other most famous ostinato motet was (and is) his setting of the psalm Miserere mei Deus, in which these opening three words of the text are repeated periodically throughout to a simple motive. (This motive, or variants of it, was then quoted by numerous sixteenth-century composers when setting the words ‘miserere mei’; an echo of this practice can be detected at the final ‘miserere nobis’ in the Gloria of Victoria’s Missa Gaudeamus.) However, rather than merely alternating between two pitch-levels for the ostinato as in Salve regina, Josquin here moves each statement one step higher or lower than its predecessor, changing the direction of this process in each of the three sections of the long motet. Guerrero’s setting of the Song of Songs text Surge propera, amica mea echoes this practice: Guerrero chose as his ostinato motto ‘Veni, sponsa Christi’, ‘Come, bride of Christ’, and in so doing he Christianises the old-testament text sung by the other voices: the ‘beloved’ (from the Song of Songs) is here ‘the bride of Christ’, which in this context refers to Mary. In the first part of the motet, the motive descends a step at each statement, while in the second it rises again, promoting the gradual crescendo as we move from the cooing of the turtle dove (‘vox turturis’) to the striking end-climax to the piece, with ‘Christi’ ringing out at the top of the final sonority. The perfumed and sensual imagery of Song of Songs texts frequently drew musical responses of particular power and colour from Renaissance composers, and this work is no exception: for example, the muscular soaring lines which Guerrero employs to set the concluding invitation for the beloved to arise (‘surge’) joyfully break the bonds of ‘normal’ melodic behaviour in the polyphonic styles of the period.

from notes by Owen Rees © 2020


Guerrero: Missa Surge propera & motets
Studio Master: CDGIM040Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Guerrero: Missa Surge propera & motets
GIMSA540This album is not available for download
Treasures of the Spanish Renaissance
Victoria, Guerrero & Morales: Salve Salve Salve
Studio Master: SIGCD608Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 9 on CDGIM040 [7'21]
Track 1 on CDH55430 [5'49]
Track 9 on GIMSA540 [7'21]
Track 12 on SIGCD608 [6'14] Download only

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