Robert White's "Lamentations of Jeremiah": A history of polyphonic settings of the Lamentations in sixteenth century England.
KeywordsWhite, Robert, d. 1574. Lamentatio Jeremiae
Lamentations of Jeremiah (Music)
Tenebrae service music
Church music -- England -- 16th century.
AdvisorSkones, Maurice H.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Lamentations of Jeremiah inspired the development of a formal musical structure that is unique in music. Based on texts and forms used in the Roman Catholic Tenebrae service, settings of the Lamentations developed in continental Europe into a distinct form by the late fifteenth century. Early polyphonic composers of the Lamentations began the tradition of setting the opening Hebrew letters in a florid style, while maintaining a more restrained style for the verses of the text. In England, however, little apparent use was made of the Lamentations forms and texts until the middle of the sixteenth century, when a surprising number of settings appeared. The single extant earlier example by John Tuder has heretofore been considered a monodic piece, but appears to be one voice of a polyphonic work. English religious upheavals prevented liturgical use of Latin texts after 1549, but the Lamentations (and other works in Latin) continued to be written, possibly used as anthems, or for certain special occasions. The English polyphonic settings generally make use of the Lamentations forms established on the continent, but at least one example exists of an English formal model being adapted to the Lamentations texts. One of the least well-known major English composers of the period, Robert White, wrote two extensive settings of the Lamentations. These and his other works are often ignored by contemporary musicians, but provide an alternative repertoire to the more usually programmed Renaissance works.