John Dunstable Composer
Speciosa facta es (antiphon, a3, probably by Binchois), MB50Performances: 1
Musicology:This is a musical setting of one of the many rather erotic religious texts of the Catholic Church.
Speciosa facta es (antiphon, a3, probably by Binchois), MB50Year: c.1410-53
Pr. Instrument: Chorus/Choir
Like "Quam pulchra est, " from The Song of Songs, it describes a religious entity—in this case,
Mary—in highly sensual terms. Dunstable's music is not as erotic as some of the settings,
being rather more awed and hushed than sensual; this is not one of the compositions where it would
be difficult to tell if this is really a religious piece. It is not sterile, though; the
phrasing is delicate, and the long, lovely lines, particularly in the upper voices, are
very effective as a description of beauty. The tenor lines are especially noteworthy, being
incredibly long and exposed, demanding great breath and pitch control.
"You are made lovely and sweet with the delights of virginity, holy Mother of God, whom
the daughters of Zion, seeing you blooming amidst roses and lilies, have called the
most blessed, and whom queens have praised."
© Anne Feeney, Rovi