Luis de Narváez

O gloriosa domina


Los seis libros del Delphin (1538), fol. 49


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Source title Come[n]ça[n] seys difere[n]cias de contrapunto sobre el imno de n[uest]ra señora. O gloriosa domina.
Title in contents   Primera diferencia del hymno de nuestra Señora. O gloriosa domina.
Text incipit O gloriosa domina


Category cantus firmus variations

Genre chant

Fantasia type

Mode 1

Voices 4

Length (compases) 279


Tuning A

Courses 6

Final V/0

Highest I/10

Lowest VI/0

Difficulty not specified

Tempo variable

Song Text


Vocal notation


This is one of Narváez’s long variation sets based on a cantus firmus rather than a harmonic-melodic ostinato scheme. “O gloriosa domina excelsa supra sidera” is a is the second half of the hymn “Quem terra, pontus, aethera” (composed by Venantius Fortunatus, 530-609, the Bishop of Poitiers. O gloriosa domina was used in Spain for the fest of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. In the Intonarum Toletanum of Cardinal Cisneros and subsequent Spanish chant sources, the melody is in a clear triple meter that is replicated in Narváez’s variations.

Narváez’s provides a set of six variations. The following table gives details of each variation: the voice that carries the cantus firmus, tempo, texture (voices) and other brief observations

Variation 1
c.f. in tiple
tempo marking – O| (fast)
texture – -- a4 contrapunto libre
observations – exposition of cantus firmus
Variation 2
c.f. in tenor
tempo marking – C| (slow)
texture –-- dos tiples y tenor
observations – faster, CF hidden
Variation 3 --
c.f. in tiple
tempo marking – O| &3/2
texture –--a 2. --
observations – time signature and metre change to 3/2 for the second half
Variation 4 --
c.f. in tiple
tempo marking – O3= 3/2
texture –-- homophony with glosses
observations –
Variation 5 -- f
c.f. “fugado” — treated imitatively in all voices
tempo marking – -- C| -
texture –- a4
observations – seems like a fantasia with intensification due to the increased complexity.
Variation 6
c.f. “fugado” — treated imitatively in all voices
tempo marking – O|
texture – a 3
observations – cantus firmus reduced to half values to make is sound faster. This crowns the entire set.

The cantus firmus below is from Incipit ordo ad processiones faciendas per anni circulum secundum co[n]suetudine[m] alm[a]e ecclesi[a]e Granaten[sis] (Granada: Sancho and Sebastián de Nebrija, 1553) [Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, M.1208] fol.60v-61r) bdh0000158271

Song Text

O gloriosa domina
excelsa supra sidera
qui te creavit provide
lactas sacro ubere

Quod Eva tristis abstulit,
tu reddis almo germine;
intrent ut astra flebiles,
sternis benigna semitam.

Tu regis alti ianua
et porta lucis fulgida;
vitam datam per Virginem,
gentes redemptae, plaudite.

Patri sit Paraclito
tuoque Nato gloria,
qui veste te mirabili
circumdederunt gratiae. Amen.

From the Liturgia Horarum, Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Translation by R. F. Littledale and others.
Text from:

O HEAVEN'S glorious mistress,
enthron'd above the starry sky!
thou feedest with thy sacred breast
thy own Creator, Lord most high.

What man had lost in hapless Eve,
thy sacred womb to man restores,
thou to the wretched here beneath
hast open'd Heaven's eternal doors.

Hail, O refulgent Hall of light!
Hail Gate august of Heaven's high King!
through thee redeem'd to endless life,
thy praise let all the nations sing.

To the Father and the Spirit
and to thy Son all glory be,
who with a wonderous garment
of graces encircled thee. Amen.

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