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D'où vient cela (Dont vient cela)

- Chanson XIV and Psaume X -

by Clément Marot

example of a poetic contrafact

 

PDF-file of the 4vv setting by Claudin De Sermisy (1528/1530) with double text underlay

 

 

In his days Clément Marot was a much celebrated poet, both for his elegant poems (he was court-poet of the French king, François I) as for his more spiritual texts (he inaugurated the habit of putting the psalms in rhyming French Verse). His poems were so 'musical' that before he himself gave his chansons to print (in Adolescence Clementine, 1532), they were already printed with music by Pierre Attaingnant (in his famous chanson-collections, which began to appear from 1528 onward). The link above opens a musical setting from that first print by Claudin de Sermisy (court-composer). It is the famous chanson XIV, Dont vient cela, Belle, je vous supplie...  a complaint about love lost: How come, o Beauty, I beg thee, that you are not interested in me anymore.... (Dont = d'Où).

The famous melody - languissant, melancholic - is probably also from Claudin de Sermisy, though some scholars still maintain the attractive - but unsubstantiated  - theory formulated in the 1950s by Jean Rollin (‘Les chansons de Clément Marot’) that Marot himself created the melodies for his chansons by presenting them to the court... singing while accompanying himself (or accompanied by) Lute (theory immediately refuted by F. Lesure (music) and Saulnier (texts)).

 

We can be sure that about a decade later Marot used this extremely popular chanson as a matrix, a mould, to shape his rhyming version of Psalm 10. Lenght and metre of the verses are identical and the first phrase is almost the same:

  • D’où vient cela, Belle, je vous supply

  • D’où vient cela, Seigneur, je vous supply… 

The beloved Beauty has become the beloved Lord:  How come, o Lord, I beg thee, that you hide your eyes from me... Since the official tune to this psalm only appears in 1542, and the psalm certainly dates from before 1541 (when it was first printed in Psalmes de David (De Gois / Antwerp) preceded by a tune-indication: sus Dont vient cela... (sus = to be sung on...)).  

BTW: The Genevan melody from 1542 is very beautiful in itself, but independent from this chanson-tune. Below the melody of the chanson, with the text from the chanson and the psalm (in French and Dutch):

 

 

 

Chanson XIV (first printed 1528, music (4-vv) Claudin de Sermisy in Chansons nouvelles en musique à quatre parties...Pierre Attaignant (1528); text from Adolescence Clementine (1532)      

Psaume X (before 1541), first officially printed in the Trente Pseaulmes de David (1541/1542)

third line: Psalm 10  in Dutch from the Liedboek voor de Kerken

 

click here for more scores from 16th century music