Magnificat Quarti Toni

Francisco Guerrero

edited:Lynne Gamblin

  Cat. 0056    
  Genre: Magnificat  
  Liturgical Use: Vespers or Evensong  
  Vocal Disposition: S(S)A(A)TB
  Price: £2.25  

In 1563 Guerrero published a complete cycle of settings of the Magnificat. They all follow the pattern of alternate verses of plainsong and polyphony; there are two settings for each of the eight liturgical Tones, the plainsong being used for odd-numbered verses for the first setting, and then for the even verses in the second. This collection was dedicated to Philip II. In 1584, he included ten of the sixteen in a book of music for Vespers. In this edition more accidentals are included and the text underlay is more explicit; more importantly, Guerrero has made the occasional alteration to the music, usually in the interests of conciseness. The settings are for four voices, sometimes adding an extra voice or voices in the final verse, which is often a canon.

The plainsong upon which the polyphony is based appears in all sorts of ways throughout the texture of the music, a demonstration not only of the composer's facility and inventiveness, but also a method which creates internal unity. Guerrero's flowing vocal lines combine with a deceptive simplicity, creating music which is both beautiful and functional. Indeed, in the dedication address of the 1584 Vespers, he states that it is not his intention to charm his listeners, but rather to assist them to a deeper understanding of their devotions.


1.     Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
2.     Et exsultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.
3.     Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae: ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
4.     Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: et sanctum nomen ejus.
5.     Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies: timentibus eum.
6.     Fecit potentiam in brachio suo: dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.

7.     Deposuit potentes de sede: et exaltavit humiles.

8.     Esurientes implevit bonis: et divites dimisit inanes.
9.     Suscepit Israel puerum suum: recordatus misericordiae suae.
10.  Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: Abraham et semini ejus in saecula.
11.  Gloria Patri et Filio: et Spiritui Sancto.

12.  Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper: et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

My soul doth magnify the Lord:
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his hand-maiden: for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel: as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Liber Vesperarum 1584

Editorial Procedures and Conventions 

Clefs and signatures: The original clefs and signatures are indicated in the prefatory staves.
Note values and barring:
Note values have been halved and barlines inserted to give bars of 2 minims each.
Transposition: In the full choir version the pitch has been raised by a tone to enable performance by soprano. alto, tenor and bass with soprano and alto divisions in the last stanza.

In the low voice version the pitch has been lowered by a tone to enable performance by alto, tenor, baritone and bass with alto and tenor divisions in the last stanza.
Voice designations and ranges:
The editor’s voice designations are given after the prefatory staves. The ranges of each part are indicated at the pitch of the modern edition.
Accidentals given in the source are shown within the stave.

Accidentals which are implied by the rules of musica ficta are provided editorially above the note.
Text and Underlay: Text underlay given explicitly in the source is shown in a normal typeface. Editorial repetitions indicated in the source by the sign ij are shown in italics.

Notes on Performance

The plainchanthas been supplied by Bruno Turner, taken from Villafranca’s Breve instruccion de canto llano (Seville 1565), and tailored to conform with the use of the formulae to be found in Guerrero's own settings.

The inflections suggested appear in this source and also in the Intonarium Toletanum of 1515. Since these inflections appear in the polyphony, the Editor suggests that they should be observed. However, Bruno Turner points out that many chant books—even Bermudo’s Declaración (1555)—do not have accidentals shown.

Click here to see a low resolution version of the first page: Click here to hear the opening and closing bars: