Musicus Online Museum

Motet: Inter natos mulierum

Motet: Inter natos mulierum (Jean Mouton)


In Christianity, the saints hold an important place as both role models for believers and intercessors before Jesus. Near the top of the sanctoral hierarchy sits John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, who announced his coming. This motet (or sacred choral work) for John the Baptist was written by Jean Mouton, the early sixteenth-century court composer of the Anne of Brittany, the twice crowned queen of France. Mouton’s Inter natos mulierum, which contains excerpts from the New Testament concerning the birth and life of John the Baptist, might have been ordered by Queen Anne in 1506 to honor the saint, after she had been cured of an illness, possibly by application of one of his relics. Typical of Mouton’s style, this musical setting contrasts duets with full choral textures with the aim of clear declamation of text.

Inter natos mulierum non surrexit maior Iohannes Baptista, qui viam Domino preparavit in eremo. Fuit homo missus a Deo cui nomen erat Iohannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. 

Elisabeth impletum est tempus pariendi, et peperit filium, innuebant patri eius quem vellet vocari eum. Et postulans pugillarem scripsit dicens: Iohannes est nomen eius. Apertum est os Zachariae et prophetavit dicens: Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebis suae Israel.

Among those born of women, none has arisen greater than John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Lord in the wilderness. A man was sent by God whose name was John. He came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all might believe through him. 

When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she bore a son. They made signs to his father, to say what name was to be given to him. Asking for a writing tablet, he wrote, saying: His name is John. The mouth of Zechariah was opened and he prophesied, saying: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, because he has visited and wrought the redemption of His people Israel.


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