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Music and Meditation: Songs in Johannes Mauburnus's Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium

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The Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum of Johannes Mauburnus is considered the most extensive and influential treatise on meditation in the circles of the late Devotio Moderna. It was printed in five editions from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth century. Besides instructions for numerous meditations of varying length, this treatise contains seven religious songs which were intended to stir up the emotions and facilitate the correct disposition for meditation. These songs were created as contrafacts, meaning that the newly composed texts were sung to well-known melodies of liturgical hymns and religious songs. In song rubrics, Mauburnus gives precise instructions about their function as an aid to summoning the motivation for the great number of spiritual exercises that had to be accomplished by the adherents of the Devotio Moderna every day.

A unique feature of the Rosetum is the combination of a concrete meditation with a corresponding written song. These songs have not yet been examined systematically. The texts were edited by Guido Maria Dreves in Analecta hymnica on the basis of the edition printed in Paris in 1510. The melodies have not yet been reconstructed. In this article, the seven contrafacts are studied for the first time from the point of view of their structure and function, and their melodies are reconstructed on the basis of liturgical sources associated with the Devotio Moderna.

Affiliations: 1: Research Institute for History and Culture, Utrecht University; Sonderholm 67, NL-2133 JB Hoofddorp;, Email:


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