Today, as we continue our perusal of Josquin des Prés’ sacred repertoire, we feature his Missa L’homme armé super voces musicales, which he based on the popular secular chanson L’homme armé, which was the inspiration for more than 40 Masses from 1450 to 1500 A. D.. This mass was written for the ordinary, that is, it can be sung on any day, since it does not include the propers of any day in the liturgical calendar.
There are diverse opinions among scholars as to whom or what the popular melody referred: soldiers fallen at the capture of Constantinople in 1453, Saint Michael the Archangel, Crusaders, or all Military men fallen in battle.
This piece was written sometime between 1492 and 1495 A. D. You can read some excellent historical notes about the piece, in Italian, here.
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