Anonymous: Missa sine nomine (Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, vol. 5)

by Blue Heron



Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, vol. 5

Anonymous: Missa since nomine
Hugh Sturmy: Exultet in hac die
Robert Hunt: Ave Maria mater dei
John Mason: Ve nobis miseris

Restored by Nick Sandon

Volume 5 of the acclaimed series, Music from the Peterhouse Partbooks, contains the world premiere recording of a Mass by an anonymous English composer from the first half of the 16th century. Since the source of the cantus firmus has not been identified, the Mass remains without a name ("sine nomine"). The disc also includes an antiphon addressed to St. Augustine of Canterbury which is the only surviving work of Hugh Sturmy, a short and dramatic Ave Maria mater dei by Robert Hunt, whose Stabat mater is a highlight of vol. 3 of the series, and the sonorous and captivating Ve nobis miseris by John Mason, for men's voices in five parts. This recording is part of a 5-CD project which began in 2010.


The marvellous series "Music From The Peterhouse Partbooks" ends very much on a high note… It's the Anonymous Missa sine nomine that stands out here; talk about poor branding! After being ignored for centuries, this piece comes to life in this recording, grabs you and forces you to pay attention. It's obviously engaged the singers, who provide an outstanding example of power and precision in choral singing. … In the entire 5-CD series Blue Heron brings these five hundred year old stories alive, here in the 21st century. It's a remarkable achievement.
Dean Frey, Music for Several Instruments (blog)

Our understanding of English music from the early sixteenth century is grievously hindered by a historical tragedy, the destruction of most manuscripts of English sacred music during the religious upheavals of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Reformation regarded the florid music of late medieval Catholicism with disdain, if not outright hostility, and much was lost or deliberately destroyed by zealots. Fewer than ten significant sources survive from the period 1500-1547, much less than one might have found in just one well-stocked church music library at the time. The Peterhouse partbooks are the largest extant source and contain nearly 50 pieces not found complete anywhere else. Despite the enormous importance of this source to music history and the extremely high quality of much of the music contained in it, it has received short shrift from performers and musicologists alike owing to the fact that the tenor partbook, along with a portion of the treble, has been missing for centuries. This has prevented singers from performing the fifty pieces in the partbooks that survive complete in no other source—until recently, that is. Blue Heron’s performances of the incomplete Peterhouse music rely on reconstructions by the English musicologist Nick Sandon, who has devoted his career to restoring this repertoire to its rightfully prominent place.

The CD booklet includes extensive notes by Scott Metcalfe on the Peterhouse partbooks, the music by the anonymous composer of the Mass, Sturmy, Mason, and Hunt, and on the performance practice of music from the period. A detailed account by Nick Sandon of the Peterhouse partbooks, their place in history, and the process of restoring the missing music, may be found in the notes to the Volume 1 of the series, Hugh Aston: Three Marian Antiphons (BHCD 1002); the notes may also be read online or downloaded at Blue Heron’s website (, where you will also find links to more information on the project, including recorded interviews with Nick Sandon and Scott Metcalfe.


released March 17, 2017

Engineering & mastering: Joel Gordon
Producer: Eric Milnes
Additional session producer: Brad Milnes
Editing: Eric Milnes & Joel Gordon

Cover photo: David Astins (
All other photos: Liz Linder (

Graphic design: Melanie Germond & Pete Goldlust



all rights reserved


Blue Heron Boston, Massachusetts

Blue Heron, directed by Scott Metcalfe, has been acclaimed by The Boston Globe as “one of the Boston music community’s indispensables” and hailed by Alex Ross in The New Yorker for the “expressive intensity” of its interpretations; the Boston Musical Intelligencer calls Blue Heron “a fantastic model for the fully-realized potential of early music performance in the 21st century.” ... more

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Track Name: Exultet in hac die
Exultet in hac die fidelium ecclesia
In qua angelis est leticia.
Alleluya consonet plebs anglica.

Augustinus en transivit
Et cum Christo semper vivit.
Alleluya consonet plebs anglica.

Jam beatus semper euge
Super pauca fidelissime.
Alleluya consonet plebs anglica.

Ave nostrum ave dulce desiderium:
Pro servis tuis ora dominum.

Let the church of the faithful rejoice on this day
on which the angels are joyful.
Let the English people together sing Alleluia.

Behold, Augustine has made the crossing
and lives with Christ for ever.
Let the English people together sing Alleluia.

Now the blessed one hears, “Well done,
Thou most faithful over small things.”
Let the English people together sing Alleluia.

Hail, O thou our sweet desire:
pray God on behalf of thy servants.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017
Track Name: Ave Maria mater dei
Ave Maria, mater dei, regina celi, domina mundi, imperatrix inferni. Miserere nostri et totius populi christiani, et ne permittas nos mortaliter peccare, sed tuam sanctissimam voluntatem adimplere. Amen.

Hail Mary, mother of God, queen of heaven, lady of the world, empress of hell. Have mercy on us and the whole Christian people, and do not let us commit mortal sin, but let us fulfill your most holy will. Amen.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Ve nobis miseris
Ve nobis miseris, quia cum ad peccata commissa inspicimus et supplicia intelligimus que pro his pati debemus, non parvum timorem habemus.

Quid ergo? Remanebimus quasi desperati? sine consilio? sine adjutorio?

Non! Sed ad te, fontem pietatis et misericordie, Jesu Christe, currimus et festinamus, in quo jam tot et tantos peccatores absolutos vidimus et agnoscimus.

Obsecramus te igitur, domine deus noster, da nobis gratiam tuam, ut a vitiis et a morte anime resurgentes in virtutibus semper floreamus et in soliditate fidei ambulemus, ut que sursum sunt queramus et sapiamus, non que super terram.

Tibi gratias agimus, bone Jesu, pro inceptis in nobis gratie tue donis, que deprecamur ut misericorditer perficias nosque in viam salutis dirigas.

Per tue claritatis virtutem purga animas nostras a tenebris peccatorum, et per eandem virtutem in die universalis resurrectionis caro nostra resurgat ad gloriam, ut in futura resurrectione delicatam tuam invocationem gaudenter cum electis tuis audiamus te dicente, “Venite benedicti patris mei, percipite regnum quod vobis paratum est ab origine mundi.” Amen.

Woe to us wretches, for when we consider the sins that we have committed and understand the torments that we are doomed to suffer for them, we have no small fear.

What then? Shall we remain as if without hope? without counsel? without help?

No! On the contrary, we run and hasten to thee, O Jesus Christ, fount of love and mercy in which we have already seen and recognized so many and great sinners absolved.

We therefore pray thee, O Lord our God, grant us thy grace, so that rising from sins and death of the soul we may always abound in virtues and walk in firmness of faith, so that we may seek and be aware of the things that are above, not those on earth.

We give thee thanks, O good Jesus, for the gifts of thy grace begun in us, which we beg that thou wilt mercifully complete and guide us in the way of salvation.

Through the strength of thy brightness make our souls clean of the darkness of sins, and through the same strength let our flesh arise to glory on the dayt of the universal resurrection, so that in the resurrection to come we with thy chosen people may joyfully hear thy delectable invitation as thou sayest, “Come, ye blessed of my father, take possession of the kingdom that was prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” Amen.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Kyrie orbis factor
Orbis factor rex eterne eleyson.
Pietatis fons immense eleyson.
Noxas omnes nostras pelle eleyson.
Christe qui lux es mundi dator vite eleyson.
Arte lesos demonis intuere eleyson.
Conservans te credentes confirmansque eleyson.
Patrem tuum teque flamen utrorumque eleyson.
Deum scimus unum atque trinum esse eleyson.
Clemens nobis assis Paraclite ut vivamus in te eleyson.

World-creator, eternal King, have mercy.
Immeasurable fountain of kindliness, have mercy.
Take away all our faults, have mercy.
Christ, who art light of the world, life-giver, have mercy.
Behold the wounds caused by demonic arts, have mercy. Preserving and strengthening your believers, have mercy.
Spirit of both you and your Father, have mercy.
We know God to be one and three, have mercy.
O merciful Holy Spirit, be with us, that we may live in you, have mercy.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Gloria / Missa sine nomine
Gloria in excelsis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bone voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine deus, rex celestis, deus pater omnipotens. Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Domine deus, agnus dei, filius patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus dominus, tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum sancto spiritu in gloria dei patris. Amen.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to all of good will. We praise you. We bless you. We adore you. We glorify you. We give thanks to you for your great glory. Lord God, heavenly king, almighty God the Father. Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son. Lord God, lamb of God, Son of the Father. Who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Who takes away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Who sits at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy, you alone are the Lord, the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Credo / Missa sine nomine
Credo in unum deum, patrem omnipotentem, factorem celi et terre, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum dominum Jesum Christum, filium dei unigenitum: et ex patre natum ante omnia secula. Deum de deo, lumen de lumine, deum verum de deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem patri: per quem omnia facta sunt. Et incarnatus est de spiritu sancto ex Maria virgine: et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato: passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die secundum scripturas. Et ascendit in celum: sedet ad dexteram patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos: cujus regni non erit finis. Amen.

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God. Begotten, not made; of one being with the Father, through whom all things are made. He was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man. He was crucified for our sake under Pontius Pilate, died, and was buried. On the third day he rose again, in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge both the living and the dead, and his kingdom shall have no end. Amen.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Sanctus / Missa sine nomine
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, dominus deus sabaoth.
Pleni sunt celi et terra gloria tua.
Osanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini.
Osanna in excelsis.

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.
Track Name: Agnus dei / Missa sine nomine
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

Translation by Nick Sandon, copyright 2017.