Josquin Desprez, Miserere
The library of the State of Bavaria has numerous manuscripts transcribed by the greatest German-speaking composer of the first half of the sixteenth century, Ludwig Senfl. This composer was Master of the Chapel of the Dukes of Bavaria, just before the famed Roland de Lassus. Having actively participated in the writing of the Constantibus Choralis by Heinrich Isaac, he pursued his work as a copyist throughout his career in Bavaria: he admirably reproduced the works of Josquin Desprez, the greatest composer of his era, celebrated by Luther who declared him the ‘Master of music notes’. He also chose to insert into his Livres de Chœur a great number of his personal compositions, which were undoubtedly inspired by Josquin.
In these manuscripts which were copied throughout Europe, you can read the famous Stabat mater by Josquin, as well as the first setting to music in German of this moving passage of the Passion of Christ: les Sept Paroles du Christ en Croix.
Even before Schulz or Haydn, Senfl, who closely aligned himself with the ideas of Luther, chose to express the suffering of Christ in German. The loyal ones must have a better understanding of the lyrics in order to grasp their dramatic intensity, which resonates within each individual in the face of the ultimate doubt: ‘My God, why have you abandoned me?’