A War of words

Devotional songs at the time of the Wars of Religion

Brochures and technical specifications

At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, between the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, France experienced an intense activity of artistic creation. In the field of devotional music, composers, Catholics and Protestants, are engaged in a kind of speed race, all the more fierce because the Reformation camp had a clear lead in this field: the practice of psalms translated into French attracted many faithful and had no consistent equivalent among Catholics.

In the sphere of the spiritual parody, the Protestants were also more advanced, with works like the "Mellange d'Orlande de Lassus" [...] of which the profane letter was changed into a spiritual one, published in "La Rochelle" in 1575.

To make up for their delay, the Jesuit circles devoted themselves to an intense work of writing, arrangement and edition of texts and music, with collections like "L'Amphion sacré" (1615), "les Odes Chrétiennes" (1625), "La Déspouille d'Aegyite", "La Philomèle séraphique" (1632 and 1640)... In these collections, the composers of Airs de cour Pierre Guédron and Antoine Boesset will obviously have the main part.

It is from this very rich repertoire of spiritual parodies that we will mainly draw to compose a program around devotional music at the time of the Wars of Religion, but not only. In fact, in addition to this work of arranging and writing lyrics, a real work of devotional music composition was carried out both in Protestant and, a little later, in Catholic circles. In witness the "Airs spirituels" by Guillaume Chastillon de La Tour (1593) or the numerous spiritual arias inserted in the collections of Airs de cour from the beginning of the 17th century, such as the prayer "Dans le lit de la mort", by Etienne Moulinié (1st book of Airs de cour with the lute tablature, 1624).

We will accompany these arias with texts highlighting them, whether they are taken from the prefaces of various musical collections or from the poetic literature and correspondence of a period as troubled as it was exciting.

  • Music by Guillaume Chastillon de La Tour, Claude Le Jeune, Roland de Lassus, Robert Ballard, Nicolas Vallet, Etienne Moulinié, Pierre Guédron, Antoine Boesset, 


  • Texts by Henri IV, Guillaume Chastillon de La Tour, Père Guillaume Marc et Peter Philipps, Jean Auvreay, Jean de la Ceppède


  • Marco Horvat : lute, guitar
  • Sarah Lefeuvre, soprano, flutes
  • Francisco Mañalich, tenor, bass viol
  • Raphaël Mas : countertenor, percussions
  • Emmanuel Vistorky : bass

Duration : 1 h 15

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Translations by Sally Gordon Mark

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