Surrexit Pastor Bonus

Jean Lhéritier

edited:David Trendell

  Cat. 0035 H (hight pitch)
Cat. 0035 L (Low pitch)

  Genre: Motet  
  Liturgical Use: Easter Sunday  
  Vocal Disposition: SSATTB

  Price: £2.25  

Jean Lhéritier (c. 1480—c. 1552) was one of the most notable of a group of composers in the generation immediately after Josquin. He was born in Northern France, in the region now referred to as the Pas de Calais, and in the early years of the sixteenth century was associated with the royal French court. It is likely that he was a pupil of Jean Mouton. In 1521 he was appointed Chaplain and Chapelmaster at the church of St Louis des Français in Rome. Although this was not a particularly prestigious musical post, Lhéritier's music was evidently popular in Rome as his works appear in several manuscripts of Roman origin. Around 1530, Lhéritier moved back to France as Chapelmaster to the papal legate at Avignon, the Cardinal of Clermont, who granted him several lucrative prebends.
The manuscript containing Surrexit pastor bonus was a working choirbook for the choir of the Julian Chapel in the Vatican, and is a major source for motets by composers of the post-Josquin generation. It is dated 1536 and bears the coat of arms of Pope Paul III (1534-49). It contains seven motets by Lhéritier, one fewer than the best represented composer, Claudin de Sermisy. It also contains motets by Josquin, Festa, Maistre Jan, Jachet of Mantua, Verdelot, Gombert, Willaert, Lupi, Morales and da Silva.

That Lhéritier's music was highly regarded in the sixteenth century is evident from the number and geographical diversity of sources in which his music is found. Much of his work was published by printers in Paris, Lyon, Rome, Ferrara and Venice as well as in Nuremberg, Louvain and Seville. Moreover, his works were being reprinted well into the 1580s, and manuscripts of his works were compiled as far afield as Spain, Germany, Austria, Poland and Bohemia as well as in France, the Netherlands and Italy. Palestrina based two masses on motets by Lhéritier, and it is obvious that Lhéritier was important in developing the style of continuous imitation from Josquin and disseminating this style in Italy.


Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Ms. Cappella Giulia XII.4, ff. 152v-155r

The manuscript, although not in perfect condition, is almost always clear. The one exception is the second Superius part in bars 55-56 where the notes have been partially erased. The composer’s intentions, however, are never the less evident.

Text and Translation

Surrexit Pastor Bonus is an Easter Respond which in pre-Tridentine Uses occurs mainly at Matins but also occasionally at Vespers. It is not known with which Use Lhéritier was familiar when he selected the text, but his setting is a motet, which suggests that it would have been used during mass on Easter day.

Surrexit pastor bonus qui animam suam posuit pro ovibus suis, alleluia.

Et pro grege suo mori dignatus est, alleluia

Et enim pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. Alleluia.
The good shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, has risen, alleluia.

And he did not disdain to die for his flock, alleluia.

For truly was Christ the paschal lamb sacrificed for us. Alleluia.

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.
Transposition: The pitch has been transposed up by three semitones.
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.
There are three major problems with regard to the application of musica ficta. The first of these is the so-called fa above la principle, which, in Surrexit pastor bonus, would result in the flattening of the sixth note of the scale (G flat). However, sixteenth-century theorists are not always in agreement over this and there are certain points in this motet which preclude the flattening of the sixth degree. Second, virtually all theorists state that the 3rd in the final chord should be sharpened; the application of this principle to Surrexit pastor bonus is clearly impossible as, given the large number of minor 3rds in the preceding bars, it would result in a conclusion of stunning banality. Third, Lhéritier, in common with most of his contemporaries, doubles the third in the penultimate chord at cadences. The issue here is to sharpen the leading-note which would result in a simultaneous false relation. Again, virtually all theorists advocate sharpening the leading-note. For example, Zarlino memorably wrote: “Nature has taken care of this, for not only do expert musicians but also peasants without musical training sing this semitone”. False relations of this type have long been tolerated in English music of the later sixteenth century, and there is increasing evidence that this technique originated on the continent in the music of Lhéritier and his contemporaries.
Text and Underlay: The editor has interpreted the original test as closely as possible within the context of early to mid sixteenth-century conventions of text setting as described by Lanfranco (1533), Vicentino (1555) and Zarlino (1558).

Click here to see low resolution versions of the first page:

Click here to hear a midi file of the opening of the SSAATB version