Tomorrow we are singing a set on the Christmas concert of St. Martin's Chorale. We'll be doing Alessandro Grandi's O quam tu pulchra es, which is a mash up of phrases from the Song of Solomon which is commonly applied to the adoration of the Virgin Mary. Then we'll do a motet that is specifically about her by Barbara Strozzi, O Maria. It uses phrases and images from the Song of Solomon more freely. Both of these sound like good old Italian love songs of the 1620s (Grandi) and 1650s (Strozzi). The groaning suspensions that Grandi uses to set the phrase, 'hurry up and come because I am languishing with love' is especially unrestrained in its graphic depictiveness.
The Counter-Reformation really worked hard to dazzle the church goers with beautiful things that would draw them into devotion, and the beautiful BVM and love songs to her were very popular for churches, and the chambers of princes. You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs, but they hadn't in church in 1630, if they were in Latin.
We'll finish off with a Cantata by Maurizio Cazzati, in Italian, so not church music if indeed the others were, and not for private devotions. It starts off 'Che fo, che tardo?' What am I doing? Why am I hanging around?' when the baby Jesus has been born. It's a great piece.