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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of the Alamire Foundation
Volume (Issue) 9
Page(s) 33 - 59
Title of proceedings Journal of the Alamire Foundation


Elevation motets have been considered as a peculiar feature of the Milanese motetti missales. Yet an exploration on the elevation prayers and their circulation makes it possible to contextualize the Milanese transmission of elevation motets in a wider liturgical and musical practice. After discussing the liturgical significance and function of the elevation, with its rich gestural symbolism, this study focuses on the peculiarities of the Milanese elevation motets in comparison with other examples of elevation pieces. The ‘loco sanctus’ motets of the Milanese Libroni were intended to surround the elevation ritual with music, and also include a part to be sung before the elevation took place. In this regard the Milanese elevation motets show a more direct connection with the mass ritual then other motets ‘de corpore Christi’. Mapping the elevation motet texts reveals significant connections in particular between O salutaris hostia and the liturgical usages of the regions in northern France and Flanders from which Galeazzo Maria Sforza recruited his singers. Although our knowledge of the use of motets and of related practices in that region is incomplete, this nevertheless suggests narrower ties than have typically been supposed between the Milanese elevation sections and Franco-Flemish singing traditions related to the elevation at Mass.