The cult of saints exerted a profound influence on the liturgy and plainsong of the Roman Catholic church in the later Middle Ages, as individual churches evolved local traditions of liturgy and plainsong to celebrate saints held dear by certain communities. Sacred polyphonic composition during this period also reflects the stimulation to musical creativity engendered by the veneration of special saints. This study explores a particularly fine example of the intersection of liturgy, chant, and polyphony inspired by the adoration of saints in the late Middle Ages. The introduction of a new local saint, Livinus, to the liturgy of the Flemish city of Ghent during the eleventh century provides the starting point for the investigation, which introduces a newly-discovered body of plainsong in his honor, notably a rhymed Office, preserved in manuscripts spanning the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries. From this corpus of plainsong the composer Mattheus Pipelare (c. 1450-c. 1515?) selected no fewer than sixteen chants for inclusion in his four-voiced Missa Floruit egregiis infans Livinus; the identification of these heretofore unknown cantus firmi prompts a fresh look at the provenance, style and structure of this remarkable Mass, which proves to be a musical historia akin to other multiple cantus firmus Masses of the period, notably those by Jacob Obrecht. The essay concludes with an examination of the Missa de Sancto Job by Pierre de la Rue, whose debt to Pipelare's Missa de Sancto Livino is elucidated through a discussion of its background and compositional technique.
- Copyright 1990 The American Musicological Society, Inc.