Music in honor of the Virgin Mary during the Middle ages and Renaissance

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
James M. Bates (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Welborn Young

Abstract: Veneration of the Virgin Mary was one of the most important aspects of Christianity during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and sacred music of the time incorporated many Marian concepts. The Virgin Mary was considered the greatest intercessor with God and Christ at a time when fear of Purgatory was strong. Prayers and devotions seeking her aid were among the most significant aspects of spiritual life, and texts of this kind were set to music for devotional use. Beyond her identity as intercessor, there were many additional conceptions of her, and these also found musical expression. The purpose of this study was, first, to explore the basic elements of Marian devotion, and, second, to examine how veneration of Mary was expressed musically. Seven musical compositions from c. 1200-1600 are examined as representative examples. The "Marian aspects" of some compositions may be as straightforward as the use of texts that address Mary, or they may be found in musical and textual symbolism. Of special interest is a particular genre of motet used in private devotions. Precise and detailed information about how sacred music was used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance is scarce, but evidence related to this particular kind of devotional motet helps bring together a number of elements related to Marian meditative practices and the kind of physical settings in which these took place, allowing a greater understanding of the overall performance context of such music. This deeper awareness can help guide today's performance.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Devotions, Marian, Motet, Prayer
Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint $x Songs and music.
Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint $x Devotion to $z Europe $x History.
Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint $x Art.

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