Polyphonic hymns to 1600

The hymn was one of the most frequently set liturgical genres of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. It fits well into the style preferences of the period in its use of a version of the chant melody ordinarily associated with the text as the basis for the composition of one of the voices. Its brevity, four to six phrases corresponding to the lines of one stanza, allowed for ready production of a number of settings needed to provide for a polyphonic setting for Vespers* of every important feast of the liturgical year. Although there are a few hymns for the other day hours, Vespers was clearly the principal location for the use of polyphonic hymn settings. The scale of the settings...

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