For about as long as I have been working with early music, the song collection Piae Cantiones has followed me. For many years I used the modern ’school’ edition published in the late 1960s. More recently I have, however, grown increasingly dissatisfied with this edition, mainly for two reasons: In order to keep the publication compact, the editors chose to omit a large portion of the verses in the strophic songs; the editors also made quite liberal changes in text underlay and, on occasion, melody, without including a critical apparatus describing the modifications. They also omitted some of the songs completely as being less suitable for modern use, notably all the longer songs in estampie or sequence form.
In order to remedy this, I decided to start making a new set of editions of the songs, following the original print more closely, and, when changes have been necessary, including critical notes. All songs are available in original note values and at original pitch, but on occasion I also include transposed versions, to make certain songs more accessible.
Piae Cantiones was originally published in Greifswald in 1582, but the origins of the collection lie in the cathedral school of Turku, Finland. The collection contains a wide variety of songs for school use, with sacred or moral texts. Many of the songs have been traced to Central or Western Europaean origins, but many others have been uniquely preserved in this collection and may have been locally produced. The chronological compass is equally diverse, with songs clearly dating from mediaeval times sharing space with other songs in a late renaissance idiom. One of the purposes for printing the collection seems to have been keeping these songs from falling out of use, and this goal certainly was achieved. The collection was reprinted in 1625, with the addition of several monophonic songs, as well as a few polyphonic songs written by editor Daniel Friderici, a composer working in Rostock. New prints and selections continued to appear in the following centuries, and some of the songs seem to have been kept in use in Finnish schools even in the 19th century.
It is my hope that the editions below will contribute in some modest way to the continued use and popularity of these attractive songs. All of the editions may be freely printed out, copied and used in concerts and recordings. They may not, however, be reissued in print or online without my prior consent.
Piæ Cantiones 1582
Cantiones de nativitate Domini et Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi
15. In dulci iubilo
19. Unica gratifera
De passione Domini nostri Iesu Christi
In festo pentecostes
De fragilitate et miseriis humanæ conditionis
46. Mirum si læteris
51. Honestatis decus
53. Iam verus amor
55. Invaluit malitia
De vita scholastica
68. O quam mundum
71. Homo quidam
De tempore vernali cantiones
Piæ cantiones 1625 additions
45.[sic] Aetas carmen melodiæ à 4
An online facsimile of (most of) the 1582 edition is available at spielleut.de