Piae Cantiones


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

1. Angelus emittitur

2. Salve flos et decor

3. Puer nobis nascitur     G-clef version here

4. Verbum caro factus est

5. De radice processerat

6. Congaudeat turba fidelium

7. Ave maris stella lucens

8. Laetetur Ierusalem

9. Personent hodie

10. Psallat scholarum concio    Transposed G-clef version here

11. Ave maris stella divinitatis

12. Dies est laeticiæ

13. Ecce novum gaudium

14. Resonet in laudibus

15. In dulci iubilo

16. Omnis mundus iucundetur

17. Florens iuventus virginis

18. Laus virginis nati sonat

19. Unica gratifera

20. Psallat fidelis concio

21. Paranymphus adiens

22. Ad cantus laeticiae

23. Puer natus in Bethlehem

24. Gaudete, gaudete Christus est natus

De passione Domini nostri Iesu Christi

25. Autor humani generis

26. A dextris Dei Dominus

27. Christus pro nobis passus est

28. Amoris opulentiam

29. Iesus humani generis

30. Cedit hyems eminus

31. Aetas carmen melodiæ

32. Iucundare iugiter

33. Iesu dulcis memoria

In festo pentecostes

34. Quando Christus ascenderat

De Trinitate

35. Benedicite tres personas

36. Bene quondam dociles

37. Triformis relucentia

De eucharistia

38. Divinum mysterium

39. Iesus Christus nostra salus

Cantiones precum

40. O Rex coelorum Domine

41. O Christe Rex piissime

42. Ave Rex regum omnium

43. Parce Christe spes reorum

De fragilitate et miseriis humanæ conditionis

44. Vanitatum vanitas

45. Insignis est figura

46. Mirum si læteris

47. O mentes perfidas

48. Nunc floret mendacium

49. Mundanis vanitatibus

50. In hoc vitæ stadium

51. Honestatis decus

52. Scribere proposui      Transposed G-clef version here

53. Iam verus amor

54. Mars precurrit in planetis

55. Invaluit malitia

56. Cum sit omnis caro

57. Ieremiæ prophetiæ

De vita scholastica

58. Castitatis speculum

59. O scholares discite

60. Scholares convenite

61. Disciplinæ filius

62. Olla mortis patescit

63. In stadio laboris

64. Schola morum floruit

65. Sum in aliena provincia     Transposed G-clef version here

66. O scholares voce pares

67. Regimen scholarium

De concordia

68. O quam mundum

69. Lætemur omnes socii

Historicæ cantiones

70. Zachæus arboris ascendit

71. Homo quidam

72. Ramus virens olivarum

De tempore vernali cantiones

73. In vernali tempore     Transposed G-clef version here

74. Tempus adest floridum


Piæ cantiones 1625 additions

23. Puer natus in Bethlehem à 4

24. Nunc angelorum gloria

26. In natali Domini casti gaudent angeli

27. Puer natus in Bethlehem à 1

28. Parvulus nobis nascitur

29. Nobis est natus hodie

30. Grates nunc omnes reddamus

31. Psallite unigenito Christo

32. Ex legis observantia     Transposed G-clef version here

33. Johelis prophetia clarescit     Transposed G-clef version here

34. Ave funda Davidis      Transposed G-clef version here

35. Parce Christe spes reorum à 1    A hypothetical 3-voice version here

37. Cantate cantica socii

42. Surrexit Christus Dominus

43. Surrexit Christus hodie

44. Cedit hyems eminus à 4

45. Aetas carmen melodiæ à 2

45.[sic] Aetas carmen melodiæ à 4

46. Iucundare iugiter à 4

48. Ascendit Christus hodie

90. Ad perennis vitæ fontem     Version transposed a 4th down here

An online facsimile of (most of) the 1582 edition is available at spielleut.de