4. The musical repertory

As this last example shows, much of the musical repertory that was composed to support and decorate Venetian rituals, which characteristically fuse civic and religious elements, is adaptable and could be performed on a variety of occasions. Certainly it is noticeable how many non-liturgical texts were set by composers associated with St. Mark's; over half of those in Gabrieli's Sacrae cantiones of 1565 cannot be identified with a liturgical source.(12) One of the most popular, the so-called 'Oration de San Marco' ('Deus, qui beatum Marcum') was used twice by Andrea Gabrieli as the text for large-scale motets; similarly, it was also set by his nephew Giovanni and once by Giovanni Bassano, both of whom worked at the Basilica:

'Deus qui beatum Marcum Evangelistam tuum,

Evangelicae praedicationis gratia sublimasti;tribue quaesimus, eius nos semper et eruditione proficere et oratione defendi. Alleluia.(13)

Giovanni Gabrieli: Deus qui Beatum Marcum (Motet in 10 parts for two choirs) (wav. 234 kb)

 All these pieces, which can be thought of as musical equivalents of the omnipresent emblem of the Winged Lion, were presumably written for performance on major state occasions if not for specific ceremonial events such as the coronation of the Doge. The same is true of obvious derivations from this text such as Giovanni Bassano's five-voice motet 'O rex gloriae, qui beatum Marcum Evangelistam'. These texts underline Mark's fundamental significance in Venetian civic liturgy as a personification of the State itself which prospered under his protection and guidance; through such means the constitution and government of Venice was both celebrated and sanctified. This widely-understood conception, communicated in much Venetian visual art of the period, is vividly expressed in the words of Gabriele Fiamma, a fifteenth-century canon regular of St. Mark's Basilica: 'I was born a Venetian and live in this happy homeland, protected by the prayers and guardianship of St. Mark, from whom that Most Serene Republic acknowledges its greatness, its victories and all its good fortune'.(14)

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