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L. Urkevich's editions of the Anne Boleyn Music Book being performed under her direction.

The performances feature rare unica [pieces that appear in no other manuscript],  anonymous works, and two chansons.

Music transcriptions may be performed with the following attribution: "Edited by L. Urkevich."




Anne Boleyn's Music Book



Anne Boleyn’s Music Book (MS 1070 of the Royal College of Music, London) is a French source whose works date from ca1505 – ca1517 (Urkevich, 1997). The bulk of its pieces, which include thirty-nine religious Latin motets and three French chansons, are by the finest continental composers of the day. They have been found in many Renaissance sources and have been performed relatively often. But twelve pieces in the book, the anonymous pieces, have likely not been performed in almost five hundred years [before this 2001 performance]. Eight of the twelve anonymous works are especially distinguished since they appear in no other source—they are unica. This uniqueness indicates that thy were composed at the French court, either commissioned for a particular person or event, or perhaps written by one of the people who would have performed from the book, that is Anne Boleyn or her royal companions. The anonymous pieces, including unica, and two French chansons from the music book are presented in this concert.


Anne went to France in 1514 as the French-speaking attendant to the new queen, Mary Tudor (Henry VIII’s sister), who had wed the aging French king, Louis XII. Louis XII died a few months into the marriage and Francis I succeeded to the throne. Mary Tudor returned to England, but Anne, who was well liked by the French royal women, was detained.


Anne would have become quite close with the Ladies of the French nobility. Renaissance court culture was largely gender segregated, and it was standard practice for royal women to rear and supervise lesser-ranking girls at their palaces Together, Anne and her noble advisors would have attended Mass, recited poetry, studied languages, performed plays, worked on embroidery, and performed music. It is most certain that they performed from the so-called Anne Boleyn music book. Anne’s name appears within the piece “Paranymphus” by the French composer Compere (#7 above) near the alto part, which she may have sung. The initials of her dear friend Marguerite d'Alencon, the king’s sister and later Queen of Navarre, appear with a French chanson.


It is also possible that Anne and her companions composed one or more of the anonymous works.  Marguerite, who surrounded herself with the greatest thinks of the day (including John Calvin), was a progressive poet and writer of famous works, including plays and ballads.  Although music composition was thought of as a male profession, it would not have been unusual for such a creative person as Marguerite, who delved into other “male” crafts, to try her hand at music or encourage those around her to do so.


Anne brought the music book back to England in 1521, and thus it is a rare source, one of few French motet books that survived the destruction that befell other Renaissance manuscripts during the French Revolution.



Click music page for sheet music. Click right column for sound file


No. 3 in MS 1070

Psalm 116/Gloria Patri

a. Laudate Dominum omnes gentes,

laudate eum omnes populi

Quoniam confirmata est super nos

misericordia eius, et veritas

Domini manet in aetemum


b. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc,

et semper, et in saecula saeculorum,



Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

For his mercy is confirmed upon us

and the truth of the Lord remaineth forever.


Glory to the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,

world without end.


2. Fer pietatis


No. 11 in MS 1070

Prayer for the feasts of the Immaculate Conception, 8 Dec,

and the Birthday of Mary, 8 Sept

Fer pietatis opem miseris,

Mater pietatis,

et nostri memor

assidua prece posce tonantem.


Give the help of your love to the wretched,

Mother of Piety,

and remember us,

implore God with constant prayer.

3. Regina celi/Resurrexit sicut


No. 20 in MS 1070

Famous antiphon in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary

a. Regina celi letare, Alleluya.
Quia quem meruisti portare, Alleluya
b. Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluya.

Ora pro nobis Deum, Alleluya.

Queen of heaven rejoice, Alleluya.
He whom thou wast worthy to bear,

Alleluya: is risen as He said, Alleluya.
Pray for us to God, Alleluya.

4. Maria Magdalene/Jesum quern


No. 15 in MS 1070

Text for Easter Resurrection comprised of biblical phrases

based on Matthew 28: 1-6

a. Maria Magdalene et altera Maria

ibant diluculo ad monumentum.

Angelus Domini descendit de caelo,

et dixit mulieribus:

b. "Jesum quern quaeritis non est hie,

surrexit ecce locus ubi posuerunt eum.



Maria Magdalene and the other Mary went

early to the tomb.

The Angel of God descended from heaven

and said to the women:

“Jesus whom you seek is not here,

He is risen, behold the place where they laid him.


5. O virgo virginim/Filie Jerusalem


No. 27 in MS 1070

Antiphon to the Magnificat for the Feast of the Expectation

of Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 18

a. O Virgo virginum,

quomodo fiet istud

quia nec primam similem visa est

nec habere sequentem?

b. Filie Jerusalem

quid me admiramini?

Divinum est mysterium

hoc quod cemitis.


O Virgin of virgins,

how can this be

that none like thee has been seen

or ever shall be?


O daughters of Jerusalem

why are ye astonished?

Divine is the mystery that ye see.

6. Bona dies/Pax vobis ego sum


No. 18 of MS 1070

Easter text, part 2 begins with the words of Jesus

to His Apostles after the Resurrection  (Luke 24: 36)

Bona dies per orbem lucescit,

de sepulcro Rex noster recessit.

Bona dies in qua resurrexit,

Moriendo qui morte destruxit.

Bona dies est qua preparavit

Resurgendo qui vitam paravit.

Bona dies est ad cuis ortum

Perducamur ad salutis portum.


Blessed day shining throughout the world,

Our King arises from the sepulcher.

Blessed day in which He has risen,

He who destroyed death by dying.

Blessed day on which preparation is made

by He who gives life by rising again.

Blessed day at the beginning of which

we are led through the port of salvation. 


Pax vobis ego sum, Alleluya,

Nolite timere, Alleluya,

Pax vobis ego sum, Alleluya,

Portas attolite, [Alleluya],

Pax vobis qui tristes, [Alleluya],

De nece fuistis, [Alleluya],

Estate nunc testes, [Alleluya],

Qui vivum vidistis, [Alleluya],

Dominus surrexit, [Alleluya],

Sicut vobis dixit, [Alleluya].

Bona dies, bona dies,

Dicere centies non sufficit,

Ergo bona dies, [Alleluya]


Peace be with you, Alleluya,

Fear not, Alleluya,

Peace be with you, Alleluya,

Open the gates, [Alleluya],

Peace be with those who are mournful, [Alleluya],

Because of death, [Alleluya],

be now witness, [Alleluya],

You who see Him alive, [Alleluya],

The Lord is risen, [Alleluya],

As He told you, [Alleluya].

Blessed day, blessed day,

To say a hundred times is not enough,

Ergo, blessed day, [Alleluya].

7. Paranymphus [Recorders performing vocal parts here]

Loyset Compere

No. 24 in MS 1070 “Paranymphus”

“Paranymphus,” the bridesman, refers to the angel Gabriel, angelus paranymphus, i.e., the angel bridesman, which contributes to the position that this book is associated with a wedding. Anne Boleyn's name appears with this piece beneath and to the right of the alto part (perhaps the part she sang?) in a hand foreign to the manuscript, entered as "Mistress [Mrs] A Bolleyne" along with her father's motto "Nowe Thus," indicating her youthful age and a possible betrothel while she was in France.

Paranymphus salutat Virginem intemeratam:

“Deus tecum, inter mulieres benedicta

Ave” inquit “gratia plena humilis Maria.

Pars II:

Ecce virgo decora, virginitate servata,

tu paries Filium, intacta Maria.”


The Bridesman [best man] greets the undefiled Virgin:

“God is with thee, blessed among woman,"

"Hail,” he says, “humble Mary full of grace.

Part II:

Behold, beautiful virgin, your virginity

having been preserved,

you will give birth to a Son, chaste Mary.”

8. Gabrielem archangelum/Gloria Patri


No. 33 in MS 1070

The text of part I is the versus of the responsory for the Annunciation,

Gaude Maria Virgo, cunctas haereses.

a. Gabrielem archangelum scimus divinitus te esse affatum;

uterum tuum de Spiritu Sancto nominus [credimus] impregnatum.

Erubescat Judaeus infelix qui dicit Christum ex Joseph

semine esse natum.


b. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.


We know the archangel Gabriel

addressed you by divine knowledge,

we discuss how your womb was

impregnated by the Holy Spirit.

Shame on the Unfortunate Jew who

said Christ was born from the seed of Joseph.


Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

9. Venes regres


French chanson

No. 36 in MS 1070

Later addition to the music book (copied by hand 5).

It can be found in a Renaissance print, Attaingnant,

Trente et deux chansons musicales, ca 1528, that was no doubt

prepared years after the work was copied into MS 1070.

Venes regres venes tous a mon cueur

venes y tost nul de vous ne me laisse

venes soucy
venes parmes

et pleurs
venes y tous qui les amans oppresse


Come regrets, come all to my heart,

Come swiftly, let none of you depart;

Come care, come sorrow, and come tears,

Come all that oppresses a lover’s heart.

10. Popule meus (4 parts)


No. 37 of MS 1070

The text is a variation of the Improperia, or Reproaches,

which are solemn prayers sung on Good Friday of Easter Week

1. Popule meus quid feci tibi,

aut in quo contristavi te?

Responde mihi.

Ego eduxi te de Egypto in manu forti, in

signis magnis et prodigus excelsis,

et parasti crucem salvatori tuo.


My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you?

Answer me.

I led you from Egypt with a strong hand,

with great signs of high wonders,

and you prepared a cross for your Savior.


2. Ego eduxi te mare Rubrum et demersi

pharaonem et excercitum eius coram oculis tuis,

et de spolius eius namque ditavi te,

et parasti crucem salvatori tuo.


I led you through the Red sea

and drowned Pharoah and his army before your eyes,

and from his spoils I also enriched you,

and you prepared a cross for your Savior.


3. Ego eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis,

vestimenta tua non sunt atrita,

manna quoque cibavi te et introduxi in terram satis optimam,

et parasti crucem salvatori tuo.


I led you through the desert for forty years,

your garments did not become worn,

with manna I also fed you

and led you into the most sufficient land,

and you prepared a cross for your Savior.


4. Quid ultra debui facere tibi et non feci?

Ego quidem plantavi te et muro

circumdedi te, et de primitus

frugum tuarum aceto potasti me,

et peiforasti lancea latus, salvatori tuo.


What more could I have done for you that I did not do?

Indeed, I settled you and surrounded you with a wall,

and of the first of your fruits of the earth,

you gave Me vinegar to drink,

and pierced through the side of My body,

This for your Savior

11. Gentilz galans


No. 42 in MS 1070, the last piece in the music book.

French drinking chanson

"theatrical chanson," likely has some connection to Boleyn's

friend Marguerite d ’Angouleme/Alencon.

Is found in many manuscripts and prints from as early as 1520

Gentilz galans compaingnons du resin

bevons d’autant au soir

et au matin jusque a cent soulz et ho!

A nostre hostesse ne baillon point

d ’argent mais ung credo


Dear, gallant drinking companions

[companions of the grape]

let us drink the same amount in the evening

and in the morning as a hundred drunkards 

(or a hundred sous [unit of money] worth)

and ho!

To our hostess, let us not give money,

but rather I.O.U. (or a prayer/creed).

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