Salve radix (The Rose Canon) (Anonymous)

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  • (Posted 2020-10-05)  CPDL #60802:    Non-modulating:  Pitch spiral: 
Editor: Adrian Wall (submitted 2020-10-05).   Score information: A4, 4 pages, 698 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Transposed up a 4th. Note values halved. Non-modulating and pitch spiral versions.

General Information

Title: Salve radix
Composer: Anonymous

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SacredMotetCanon

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

 Manuscript 1516 in Royal 11 E. xi, no. 1

Description: This is the opening piece of music in the choirbook Royal 11 E. xi, compiled for Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon in 1516, where it is presented with the music of the Bassus and Contratenor parts on facing pages each encircling a rose; both are marked Canon. Fuga in diatesseron, indicating that the other two parts may be derived as canons at the 4th. No accidentals are marked in either voice, but, following normal musica ficta rules, there is an implicit flattening through the piece, with repeated modulations creating a "pitch spiral" such that by the end, we are a tone below the notated pitch. Alternatively, a non-modulating reading is possible.

One possible ascription is to Sampson, three of whose works appear in the book; alternatively, Petrus de Opiciis, perhaps the originator or commissioner of the work (there is an inscription on the first, otherwise blank page of the manuscript which reads, Me fieri ac componi fecit PO 1516 [P. O. caused me to be made and assembled, 1516.], perhaps Petrus himself), and whose son Benedictus de Opiciis' motet Sub tuum praesidium is contained elsewhere in the manuscript.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

Salve radix varios producens germine ramos
quos inter ramus supereminet altior unus,
cuius et ex summo purpura rosa micat,
qua stant unanimes pax et Iustitia septe,
claudunturque foras dissona corda senum.

English.png English translation

Translation by Edward Tambling
Hail, Root, bringing forth varying branches from the bud,
Among which one branch rises above,
From whose top the purple rose gleams;
By which Peace and Justice stand enclosed and united;
And the dissonant hearts of old men are closed outside.