And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

lørdag 19. januar 2013

Songs for St Sebastian

The martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Carlo Crivelli, courtesy of wikipaintings

Today is St Sebastian's day, and I have for quite a while had a particular fascination for this rather apochryphal saint. I have written about him earlier, and more on the background for his legend can be found here. St Sebastian became a favourite motive for artists throughout history, and was subject to a very interesting transition sometime in the 15th century, when painters went from portraying him as a bearded soldier to a clean-shaven apollonian youth. His popularity greatly increased about this time because of the plagues harrying Europe, as it was believed St Sebastian was a particularly merciful intercessor for plague victims. It is also said that it was because of a plague that struck Ferrara in 1432 that composer Guillaume Dufay wrote the isorhythmic motet O Sancte Sebastiane, imploring the saint for his much needed aid. Dufay also wrote another motet, a cantilena motet this time, called O Beate Sebastiane. These two motets are among my favourite works of Dufay, and in honour of St Sebastian I present them here:

O Sancte Sebastiane

O Beate Sebastiane
(from c.4.00-c.7.00)

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