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Christobal de Morales
c.1500 - 1553
C. de Morales
Christobal de Morales (c.1500 - 07/10/1553), a Spanish composer, from Seville.
Source:Grove's dictionary of music and musicians
Contributor:Tassos Dimitriadis (picture)
Little is know about his youth, perhaps he was a pupil of his father and he studied we suppose with Fernández de Castilleja ( 1474-1574) which was in that time Maestro di Capilla in the cathedral of Sevilla from 1518 to 1548 and with Francisco de Peñaloso ( 1470-1528) who introduced in Spain the style of the composers out of the Netherlands, the so called Franco-Flemish School . He got positions at the cathedrals in Avilla (1526) and in Plasencia (1529-1531). Earlier Spanish popes of the Borja family held a long tradition of employing Spanish singers to the chapel’s papal choir, so did De Morales. De Morales is documented three times in Rome as ‘presbyter toletanus’ in 1534. By 1535 he had moved to Rome, where he was a singer in the papal choir, evidently due to the interest of Pope Paul III who employed Spanish singers. He stayed in Rome until 1545, in the employ of the Vatican. In 1547 De Morales came back to Spain he resumed his career as a choirmaster/Maestro di Capilla at Toledo cathedral till 1547 and at Malaga cathedral from 1551. He died in Marchena. Morales occupies the intermediate historical position between Francisco de Peñaloso ( 1470-1528) and Tomás Luis da Victoria (1548-1611), along with the contemporary keyboard music of Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566) ; his music shows some influence of earlier polyphony as well as looking forward to functional harmony. But nevertheless he is the outstanding figure of the Andalusia School. Morales can be generally regarded as the leading Spanish composer during the so-called Golden Age of Spain. He composed in general entirely sacred music. 21 Masses with an use variety of techniques including cantus firmus and parody, 2 Missa de Profunctis, 1 Officium Defunctorum, 16 splendid Magnificat settings, 150 motets not all have been preserved, 11 hymns en 5 Lamentations. The 16 Magnificat settings are very famous and broadly printed in Europe. His style is extremely austere and larded with contrapuntal complexities. De Morales uses bold harmonics. De Morales is without any doubt the finest Spanish composer of the early 16th century but was in Spain too the first important contributor to a standard repertoire of musical settings of the liturgy for the Dead.
Author:Wim Goossens
Officium defunctorum
Period:Early Renaissance
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin Officium defunctorum
Label(s):Astree 8765 (Partial)
Es 9926
AVSA 9856 (Partial)
The Officium defunctorum is written for 4 voices (SATB) except Circumdederunt (CTBBB) and Manus Tuae (CCATB) . It contains:
Ad Matutinum:
Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis (CTBBB).
Regem cui omnia vivunt (CATB).
Psalmus 94: Venite, exultemus Domino (CATB).
Regem cui omnia vivunt (Polyphonic version CATB).
In Primo Nocturno:
Versiculum: A porta inferi, Gregorian chant
Lectio I Parce mihi Domine (CATB).
Lectio II Taedet animam meam vitae (CATB).
Lectio III Manus tuae (CATB).
Motet: Manus Tuae (CCATB)
In Secundo Nocturno:
Versiculum: Collocet eos cum principibus, Gregorian chant
Responsorium: Ne recorderis (CATB, with Gregorian chant).

The two masses of the dead and the Officium defunctorum are the most extreme examples of Morales's sober austere style. Morales had thorough command of early 16th-century continental techniques and his style is better compared to Josquin, Gombert and Clemens than to his Spanish contemporaries. It is very important for better understanding to place this works from Morales in the context of earlier polyphonic works for the Office of the Dead in Spain. In the time in the employ of Ferdinand II (1452-1516) and Isabella (1451-1504) - los Reyes Católicos - and their successors both The Requiem Mass and the Office for the Dead were strongly defined by local diocesan liturgical traditions. They differed from region to region in Spain and too they differ from those in Rome. See or remember for instance the use of all different responsorium in Europe. Polyphonic Responsories may have been sung in a form of orationes in processions.
This Officium defunctorum was entirely sung in Mexico City during the solemn funeral rites held in the city for Emperor Charles V in 1559. It survives in a choir-book of the cathedral of Puebla, Mexico. This Officium defunctorum is written for four voices (CATB) and is deeply characterized by a sober darkness homophonic style. Over the whole work it has unexpected harmonic changes. Further more De Morales indicated the use of alternating strophes for the Cantores and for the Choir in Regem cui omnia vivunt. Besides the Choir alternates between parts of the Antiphon Regem cui and Venite adoremus of the beginning of the Invitatorium. This Invitatorium will be closed with a slightly different more polyphonic antiphon of the Regem cui omnia. This is followed by three Lessons out of the first Nocturne set in severe homophonic style. The Officium defunctorum ends with the responsorium Ne recorderis out of the second Nocturne with indicated alternating between Cantores and Choir. The Ne recorderis is in today’s Liber Usualis the end of the secundo Nocturno and is also written in a sober homophonic style. In this Ne recorderis De Morales has chosen for a permanent alternation between short austere homophonic phrases with chant melodies of the responsorium. This Officium ends with a short Kyrie (CATB), Christe Gregorian and Kyrie (CATB).
Contrary to that we state above we hear another Morales in two added motets Circumdederunt me gemitus mortis (CTBBB) and Manus tuae (CCATB). In that time those motets were used in the Office of the Dead for the Matins. Both motets are written in polyphonic counterpoint style. The Circumdederunt me gemitus is very impressive due to using lower (TBBB) voices, long notes and in the second part using descending notes. Even the Cantus don’t need a real high voice. This setting of the Psalm 94 Venite, exultemus Domine is uniquely preserved in the Toledo Cathedral archives. Moreover most parts of the Officium Defunctorum are written after De Morales left the Cathedral in Toledo in 1548 where he was Maestro di capilla from 1545 - 1548 and the Officium is published later on.
The Manus tuae Domine is a motet and the whole part of the text is taken out of the old Lectio III ad Matutinum which is published in the Liber Usualis. This motet is written in fluent polyphonic counterpoint style and starts with the lower voice in the first nine bars following in Canon ad unisonum by successively Bassus, Tenor, Cantus II, Cantus I and Altus. The polyphonic imitation will be continued in Cantus II and Cantus I up to the end of this motet.
The Officium Defunctorum by De Morales is a mix of homophonic and polyphonic music as we see among others by Vasquez ( c.1510-1560). The real reason for heaving polyphonic music in parts of the Officium is accentuating the contrast in performance forces in different items of the liturgy in Spain. This Officium Defunctorum is a severe but powerful by its simplicity due to the homophonic style with the rhythmic declamation of the text by CATB.
The changing metric is basic of accelerate or slow down some recitations.
Author:Wim Goossens
Missa pro defunctis
Period:Early Renaissance
Composed in:1544
Musical form:mass a 5 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin mass, Missa pro Defunctis
In memory of:Charles V in1559 (?) or Isabel of Portugal (?)
Label(s):Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 457 597-2
Astree 8765
Auvidis ES 9926
Deutsche Grammophon Archiv 457 597-2
This requiem for 5 voices mixed (STTBarB), has been performed at the funeral of Phillip II of Spain (1527 - 1598), who died in 1598. The Requiem is probably written for the funeral of his father Charles V (1500 - 1558) or his mother Isabel of Portugal (1503 - 1539). It contains:
- Introitus: Requiem aeternam ( 6’58” )
- Kyrie ( 5’59” )
- Graduale: Requiem aeternam ( 8’33” )
- Tractus: Absolve, Domine (Unisono) ( 2’01” )
- Sequentia: Dies Irae ( 1’40” )
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe ( 8’57” )
- Sanctus ( 2’13” )
- Benedictus ( 1’19” )
- Agnus Dei ( 2’48” )
- Communio: Lux aeterna ( 2’39” )
Author:Herman Ram and Wim Goossens
This five-part Missa pro Defunctis setting by De Morales contains 10 parts, he set too an Officium defunctorum and a four-part Missa pro Defunctis. Certain is that this Requiem is sung in 1559 in Mexico in the New World at the memorial services for Emperor Charles the fifth.
The plainchant is in generally found in the top voice of each part, followed by the other voices weaving a contrapuntal net under the top-voice. De Morales follows the normal liturgical structure which was common at that time. De Morales uses in this Requiem four lower parts (TTT/BarB) which allows the dark and austere sphere in this imposing serene composition. This Missa pro Defunctis is written by De Morales in general in a solemnly sober imitative counterpoint. Besides De Morales uses some minor homophonic passages too which can be heard nearly in each part. It culminates in the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. Furthermore it seems the Bass to be not a fully part of the polyphonic movements in all pieces. Very certain in the Sanctus and Benedictus the Bass is only involved in it with fourths and fifths of course with a clear harmonic function, the same applies in the Sequentia verse Pie Jesu.
This Missa pro defunctis is in general written for five parts (ATTT/BarB), although the Gradual verse, “in memoria aeterna” is written for three voices TTB and the Offertory verse, “Hostias et preces” is written for ATTB. This Missa is scored for Falsett/Altus, two Tenors, Baritone and Bass. Normally in the Renaissance-period in this pitching the bass is doubled by a dulcian and in accordance with the sources played muted. Every part of this Missa pro Defunctis/Mass of the Dead starts with the normal plainchant intonation followed by a quotation in long notes often by the upper voice(s). The Tractus “Absolve Domine” is the plainchant and is set unisono. In the Sequentia only the last words/verse “Pie Jesu Domine, Dona eis Requiem, Amen” of the Dies Irae are set by De Morales. This could be for liturgical or more practical reasons. Normally the Dies Irae counts 20 verses.
Jacobus de Kerle (c.1531-1591) was involved in de Council of Trent/Concilium Tredentinum (1545-1563) and took knowledge of the developments there and the concluded implementation of the Dies Irae in the Office of the Dead. Among others Giovanni Mateo Asola (1528-1609), in 1575 and Giulio Belli (c.1560-1621) followed the example of the Kerle. Already in 1510 Antoine Brumel (c.1460-1520) used the Sequence Dies Irae, Dies Illa in a polyphonic alternating setting in his Requiem Mass so did Engarandus Juvenis (15th/16th C) in circa 1520 in his Missa pro Defunctis. Most of the Renaissance composers didn’t use the Dies Irae, see nearly all of them – who composed a Requiem Mass - mentioned in this Requiem survey. The plaintiff moods are set by De Morales in this Missa pro Defunctis in using minor thirds and sixths. De Morales set this Requiem with a great look to the clarity and transparency of the texture certainly a mark in the works by De Morales. But all together this very but natural reservedness makes this masterpiece just full of dignity as a result of the high technical skill which De Morales possesses.
De Morales combines and alternates the counterpoint - in using different voice-setting - with delicates homophonic sonorities. In the Offertorium and in the last part Communio we see the high counterpoint skills by De Morales used in and with a strong involvement of all voices both ending with a superb closure. The Introit consists out of 86, Kyrie 65, Graduale 127, Sequentia 32, Offertorium 196, Sanctus 48, Benedictus 25, Agnus Dei 50 and Communio 49 bars.
This Missa pro Defunctis was published in Christophori Moralis Hispaniensis Missarum Liber secundus in Roma, primera parte, 1544, Valerio & Ludovico Dorico and reprinted in 1551 by Jacobum Modernum, Lyon.
Author:Wim Goossens
Picture Picture Picture
Charles V of Spain
(probably dedicatee)
Isabel of Portugal
(probably dedicatee)
Phillip II of Spain
(performed at his funeral)
Peccantem me quotidie
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:motet à 4 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin from Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum
Label(s):Manor MLR0222
This motet is published in Libero Motetes LI-LXXV, it is a motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum written for four voices SATB. The Peccantem me quotidie is an old Responsorium and is published in the Liber Usualis after Lectio VII, Lesson VII. There are about 138 Responsoria known used during centuries in the Office of the Dead. De Morales uses a modest polyphonic style with discords, within a flat key alongside major/minor shifts. The abrupt end of this motet is in major despite that following the text a bleak end, perhaps the end in major as a piece of hope underlining et salve me, save me.
Author:Wim Goossens
The text of this motet:
Peccantem me quotidie et non me poenitentem, timor mortis conturbat me;
Quia in inferno nulla est redemptio, miserere mei Deus et salva me.
The fear of death overwhelms me, who sin every day and do not repent:
For in hell is no redemption. Have mercy on me. O God spare me!
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Qui consolabatur me
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin responsorium
Label(s):Cal 9363
This motet is published in Libero Motetes LI-LXXV.
A motet from the Responsorium de Officium Defunctorum for five voices (CATTB). The Qui consolabatur me is an old Responsorium and is published in old medieval versions of predecessors of the Liber Usualis. There are about 138 Responsoria known used during centuries in the Officium Defunctorum the Office of the Dead. This responsorium is used in Italy. The Liber usualis was first published in 1570 during the time of the pontificate (1566-1572) of Pope Pius V.
This responsorium is written in imitative polyphonic sober counterpoint style and consist out of 82 bars. Due to the use of extra flats by the Morales the responsorium written in G flat minor has a sober character nevertheless it ends in the last bar in G major.
Author:Wim Goossens
Qui consolabatur me recessit a me.
Quæro quod volui, et non invenio.
Fundunt oculi mei lacrimas
quia repletus sum amaritudine.

Contributor:Wim Goossens
Manus tuae, Domine
Period:High Renaissance
Musical form:motet
Text/libretto:Latin responsorium (Job 10:8-12)
Label(s):GO 024
E 8878
This motet is published in Libero Motetes LI-LXXV A motet from the Officium Defunctorum for five voices (SSATB). The Manus tuae (tue) Domine is a motet and the text is taken out of the old Lectio III ad Matutinum which is published in the Liber Usualis (Ed. 1936 p.1786). This motet is written in fluent polyphonic counterpoint style and starts with the lower voice, bassus, in the first nine bars following in Canon ad unisonum by successively Bassus, Tenor, Cantus II, Cantus I and Altus. The polyphonic imitation and the Canon ad unisonum will be continued in Cantus II and Cantus I up to the end of this motet, meanwhile Altus, Tenor and Bassus giving all impressive polyphonic basic. This motet consists out of 77 bars.
Source:Wim Goossens
Manus tuæ, Domine fecerunt me
et plasmaverunt me totum in circuitu:
et sic repente præcipitas me?
Memento, quæso quod sicut lutum feceris me
et in pulverem reduces me.
Nonne sicut lac mulsisti me et sicut caseum me coagulasti?
Pelle et carnibus vestisti me: ossibus et nervis compegisti me.
Contributor:Wim Goossens
Missa pro defunctis
Period:High Renaissance
Composed in:1550c
Musical form:mass à 4 vocibus
Text/libretto:Latin mass
The movements of this Missa Pro Defunctis are:
- Introïtus: Requiem Aeternam.
- Kyrië Christe Kyrie
- Graduale: Requiem Aeternam.
- Offertorium: Domine Jesu Christe.
- Sancus y Benedictis.
- Agnus Dei I, II, III.
This Mass a Missa pro defunctis is found and published in Ms. IV de la Catedral de Málaga and is written for four voices SATB. It is a very short modest Mass compared to Missa Pro Defunctis written for five voices. This four-voices Mass is supposed to be written for the liturgical practices of Andalusia, the Court church of Osuna, following the uses of Seville!! , or perhaps the Cathedral of Malaga. This four-voices version by de Morales has no Tractus, Sequenz and Communio.
Author:Wim Goossens and co-source: Prof. G.Wagstaff