Preme, virgo sancta, preme

Here is the text to a recently discovered, hitherto unknown Christmas motet, dating from the early 14th century. It is credited to a “Fra Lamazia,” who was apparently choirmaster at a church near Modena associated with the Sisters of the Most Blessed Womb of the Mother of God, otherwise known as the Uterine Sisters. (Some scholars suggest this text may be associated with the Fallopians, but the Fallopian order, though related to the Uterines, was not founded till the late 1500’s.)

The piece is developed in a polyphonic, overlapping style, with one part sometimes interrupting another. There are also marginal notes indicating where a solo voice emits different sounds, ranging from “a low growl” to an improvised “loud, piercing wail, ad libitum.”

Preme, Virgo Sancta, Preme (“Push, Holy Virgin, Push”)

o virgo beata
immaculata
cervix minime dilata

ubi est obstetrix
obstetrix vocata est
preme virgo sancta preme

spira spira spira

ecco nunc obstetrix adveniat

o virgo beata
immaculata
cervix nunc dilata

contractio maior
nunc incipit dolor

spira spira spira

contractiones celeriores
magnificantur tuo dolores

preme virgo sancta preme
preme virgo sancta preme

preme preme preme
spira spira spira
preme preme preme
spira spira spira

alleluia

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