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The Occo Codex
ed. Jaap van Benthem, Marnix van Berchum, Anna Dieleman, Theodor Dumitrescu, and Frans Wiering

Among the best-known music manuscripts produced at the Habsburg-Burgundian court of the Netherlands, the "Occo Codex" was created under the supervision of the celebrated scribe Alamire for the Amsterdam banker Pompeius Occo. A deluxe, decorated item on a large scale, this choirbook brings together major works of composers such as Isaac, Mouton, and Josquin, in addition to anonymous and lesser-known compositions, notably a collection of polyphony in honor of the Blessed Sacrament (Corpus Christi). On the basis of paleographical and historical evidence, the book can be newly dated to c. 1515-17 and associated with use in the Amsterdam chapel of the Sacrament known as the Heilige Stede (Holy Place), where Occo served as churchwarden at the same time. The combination of liturgical focus, careful craftsmanship, and early transmission of a number of masterworks makes this one of the most valuable witnesses to the musical life of the Early Modern Netherlands.



Edited Compositions

No. Title Composer


No. Title Composer


No. Abbrev. Full Siglum
Berlin, Former Preussische Staatsbibliothek, MS Mus. 40013 (olim Z 13)
Berlin, Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz, MS Mus. 40091 (olim Z 91)
's-Hertogenbosch, Archief van de Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap, MS 72C
Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, MS E. 46 Inf.
Milan, Archivio della Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, Sezione Musicale, Librone 1 (olim 2269)
Milan, Archivio della Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, Sezione Musicale, Librone 2 (olim 2268)
Montserrat, Biblioteca del Monestir, MS 766
Montserrat, Biblioteca del Monestir, MS 773
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiksammlung, Musica MS 7
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiksammlung, Musica MS 260
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Musiksammlung, Musica MS 510
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Handschriften-Inkunabelsammlung, Musica MS F
Nuremberg, Bibliothek des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, MS 83795 (olim M 369m)
Reggio Emilia, Archivio della Chiesa di San Prospero, MSS s.s.
Toledo, Biblioteca Capitular de la Catedral Metropolitana, MS B. 16
Toledo, Cathedral, Obra y Fabrica, MS Reservado 23
Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, MS Vokalmusik i Handskrift 76b
Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, MS Vokalmusik i Handskrift 76c
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Cappella Giulia XII.2 (olim C.48)
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MSS Palatini Latini 1980-81
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Palatini Latini 1982
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Cappella Sistina 16
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Cappella Sistina 26
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Cappella Sistina 160
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Santa Maria Maggiore 26 (olim JJ.III.4)
Missarum Joannis Mouton. Liber primus. (Venice, 1515)
Missae tredecim quatuor vocum (Nuremberg, 1539)
Bicinia gallica, latina, germanica - Tomus primus (Wittenberg, 1545)
[Missa super Pange lingua - Josquin] (Kirchberg, 1559)


I. The Frisian Maecenas
II. The Material Artefact
III. The Musical Witness

I. The Frisian Maecenas

"There is a merchant called Pompeius Occo, from Friesland, and he intends to sell all his books to the public without exception. I have just now no access to the catalogue, but I know for certain that in his house more than a thousand books are lying hidden and being gnawed by worms - really rare books, I mean, and really old ones; and if you can lay hands on any of them, you will not cry out that you have found what children find in beans. The man who keeps Rodolphus Agricola's very rich library so carelessly and in such privacy has barely passed the stage of thumbing his Aesop; he is as rich as a nabob and in his grand way of life a proper Thraso. He lives in Amsterdam, where his house is commonly called the Paradise. I wrote by my courier to ask him to send me a list for your benefit; and as we are old acquaintances, I expect he will do this without delay."1

As a sketch portrait of the Amsterdam businessman Pompeius Occo (1483-1537), the descriptive image above furnished by the humanist Alaard of Amsterdam in a letter to Erasmus of Rotterdam is perhaps not as flattering as the painted likeness by the hand of Dirck Jacobsz now in that city's Rijksmuseum (see Illustration 1). Agent of the powerful and internationalized Fugger firm, Occo was one of the most prominent figures among the merchant elite of his adopted city; and if he was not as learned as a highly trained professional classicist might wish, he was nevertheless known as a man of consummate education, a defender of the catholic traditions of his youth, and a patron of arts and learning.2 The image of a vast, disorganized library housing unknown treasures reflects Occo's status as a bibliophile of a semi-public nature, pushing into the circles of the elite and their intellectual courtiers as his own wealth and influence increased. Like any person with a social necessity to be held at a certain rank, Occo required a certain visibility in his activities of patronage and piety. It was not enough for him to be "rich as a nabob" if the reports of this never circulated, and his firm loyalty to the venerable traditions of the church likewise could not be merely a matter of private devotion.

Illustration 1: Portrait of Pompeius Occo, c. 1534 by Dirck Jacobsz (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, SK-A 3924)
Pompeius Occo c. 1534 (Jacobsz)

The manuscript choirbook edited here, MS IV.922 of the Bibliothèque royale de Belgique in Brussels - commonly known as the "Occo Codex" ever since it first came to public notice in the 1970s - offers a rare and valuable glimpse into the musical side of this patron's conspicuous devotional activities. As a private financial agent who owed his success as much to his industriousness as to the family connections which set him up at a young age, Occo fit a different pattern than many of the other patrons and institutions which commissioned deluxe choirbooks at this period - most often royalty, political leaders with private chapels, and ecclesiastical organizations. The growing interest in domestic musical activities among the urban elite of the 16th century found material expression typically in other forms such as printed and manuscript partbooks suitable for performance in the home (for instance, VienNB 18832, created for the Fugger family by the same workshop as Occo's choirbook).3 The Occo Codex, an imposing large-scale tome created by professional craftsmen in the institutional form of the cantus collateralis choirbook, brought together a modern international repertoire (Mouton, Josquin, Isaac, etc.) in conjunction with unusually specific liturgical focal points (above all the veneration of the Holy Sacrament). The very form and format of the music book created at Occo's behest thus point already toward specific social necessities and types of usage, ideas which in connection with Occo's public roles must ultimately impact our understanding of the manuscript's original context and function.

There can be no doubt that the choirbook was owned by Occo and his family, the evidence in this case being more explicit than in many contemporaneous music manuscripts. The heraldic arms painted into one of the opening initials of the first mass in the book (Barra's Missa Ecce panis angelorum, f. 13r; see Illustration 2a) are clearly marked as belonging to Pompeius Occo, containing both Occo's motto ("IN MELIVS SINGVLA") and a second banderole with his name itself ("POMPEIVS OCCO NATIONE FRISIVS").4 The image of Occo's arms recorded in Maximilian I's 1504 grant of arms to Occo (in a late 16th-century copy now in the city archive of Amsterdam) corresponds unproblematically to the version in the choirbook (see Illustration 2b). Some time after the rediscovery of the choirbook in 1972, a second coat of arms in the book (f. 29r) was identified as belonging to Gerbrich Claesdr, Pompeius's wife since c. 1505-1509.5 A 16th-century handwritten note at the bottom of the first music page (f. 4r; see Illustration 3) confirms the ownership implications of these formal illustrations, reading: "Popius occo ende syne erfnen lienen dit boeck der heyligher steede van Amsterdam soelange het hoer ende erfnen gelieuen sall" [Pompeius Occo and his heirs loan this book to the Heilige Stede of Amsterdam as long as it shall please them]. A somewhat more formal Latin notice at the front of the book dates from immediately after Occo's death and extends this loan of the book to the "Heilige Stede," an Amsterdam chapel with which Occo had been closely connected in the 1510s (see below). Given the fact that the manuscript was acquired finally by the Bibliothèque Royale from a sale of the estate of Occo's direct descendent Baron Charles Gillès de Pélichy,6 there is no reasonable cause for suspicion of a different original ownership or context for the manuscript than the circle of Occo and his Amsterdam connections.

Illustration 2
a. BrusBR IV.922, f. 13r (detail)
Occo Arms (BrusBR IV.922)

b. Amsterdam, Stadsarchief, 195/718, f. 30v (detail)
Occo Arms (ASA 195/718)

Illustration 3: BrusBR IV.922, f. 4r (detail)
BrusBR IV.922, f. 4r (inscription)

For what reasons would a Netherlandish financial agent commission a large-scale choirbook laid out in the traditional (and becoming gradually more antiquated) format employed by polyphonic chapel choirs? And what activities would have brought him into contact with the creator of this manuscript, identified almost immediately after the book's auction as the Habsburg-Burgundian court scribe Petrus Alamire? Answers to these questions must be sought in the scant surviving records pertaining to Occo, documentation which more often than not pertains only indirectly to his personal or private activities.

If the domestic records of Occo's household seem to have disappeared without trace, his connections with local and international magnates and ecclesiastical institutions on the other hand offer other types of evidence. The banker's actions as a financial intermediary and personal host of King Christian II of Denmark (a relationship initiated probably through the Fugger firm, making Occo the key figure in Dutch-Scandinavian trade relations7) stand behind the only set of accounts to survive from his business. Dating from the 1520-1523 visits to the Low Countries of the embattled monarch, these records are known to musicologists because they preserve the only explicit historical notice of Occo's contact with Petrus Alamire, although the matter reflects a non-musical and otherwise unknown aspect of Alamire's activities.8 The payment in late 1521 to Alamire (along with a companion from Mechelen) for teaching Christian II the art of "berchwerk" (mining) apparently reflects one of the scribe's many talents; a further payment to Alamire in 1522 lists no specific service rendered.9 The question of whether Occo was at that point already acquainted with Alamire - of central importance to the history of the Occo Codex - is not illuminated by these two payment records, but there were many occasions for earlier contact. From the wider context of the accounts and Occo's connections in the 1510s with the Danish king and court it is clear that Occo was indeed expected to remain aware of developments at the court of the Netherlands. The importance of the banker in Christian II's sojourn lay partly in his role of mediator, and he would only conduct this business with the approval of Margaret of Austria, the regent of the Netherlands with whom he regularly corresponded.10 Ultimately there is every reason to believe that Occo had maintained connections with the Mechelen court from his earliest years in Amsterdam, offering a channel for repeated encounters with the politically-active Alamire.11

During the same visit of the Danish king to the Low Countries, a tour of the region from Amsterdam to Bruges brought Occo and his royal associate into the areas under the direct influence of the Mechelen court, and presented numerous encounters with the musicians of the churches and cities along the way. From June to September 1521, Occo's accounts make note of payments to church singers, organists, trumpeters, drummers, and various other instrumental players who entertained the entourage (sometimes recorded retrospectively; see Table 1). In a number of cases it appears that musicians traveled from nearby cities, probably with the express purpose of meeting the royal company. Occo himself may well have provided contacts in places where he had them; the payments to the musicians of the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam in June and September, for instance, come at a period when Occo was that institution's churchwarden (see below) and certainly would have found it beneficial to put these parties in contact with each other.

Table 1: Payments made by Occo to Low Countries musicians on behalf of Christian II of Denmark, June-September 152112

Date of record Place Payment Amount
28 Jun Amsterdam singers and organist of the Nieuwe Kerk f. 10
Bergen "schutters" and players (speeluyde) of Dordrecht f. 36
Bergen singers f. 5
[Antwerp] emperor's trumpeters 26 g. g.
[Antwerp] emperor's players (flutes and taborers) f. 16 st. 16
Mechelen city players f. 10
15 Jul [Brussels] five players f. 7
[Brussels] two taborers, one lutenist, one harper f. 7
16 Jul Antwerp organmaker at OLV Kerk 1 g. g.
19 Jul Ghent singers at St. Janskerk f. 6
20 Jul Ghent trumpeters f. 7 st. 4
21 Jul Ghent shawm players with crumhorns 8 h. g.
Bruges the "duytske speeluy" f. 2 st. 8
[Bruges?] trumpeter at Antwerp f. 1 st. 8
8 Aug n.p. "Albert vor mijn heer tho speelen" f. 4
20 Aug n.p. four players, three fiddlers of the emperor f. 9
3 Sep Amsterdam two players who played for two evenings f. 5
Amsterdam singers and organists of the Oude and Nieuwe Kerken f. 12
[Amsterdam] lute player and his wife f. 2 st. 10

Admittedly these financial transactions say very little about the context of the performances, as is the nature of such documentation, and a less generous reading would see Occo as a purely uninterested pursekeeper, merely providing a financial cover for the Danish king without further involvement.13 The evidence of Occo's other actions, however - not least of which is the choirbook edited here - suggests that artistic and musical interests were meaningful for the banker and often intertwined with his business activities. Within the small surviving written correspondence between Occo and Christian II, a letter of 1515 indicates that Occo sent "iij kistemakers vnd ein orgelisten" to the king as a sign of good faith.14 The same year, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen depicted the banker and in his wife on the wings of a splendid altarpiece (today in the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp) which Occo's son Sybrant inherited.15 Sponsorship of a prayer book for traveling merchants, printed in Paris in 1519, ensured that Occo's name and motto were presented to a wide international audience at the head of a substantial devotional collection.16 Especially the period from about 1515-1525 seems to represent the height of Occo's cultural patronage activity, when he was well-established in Amsterdam and on the rise in the circles of Europe's northern magnates.

It was no simple career motivation that led the Frisian businessman to his various acts of patronage, however. There is a clear and important element of personal piety, reinforced especially by Occo's close connections to several of the more important liturgical institutions in Amsterdam.17 The official church positions which he occupied were coupled with a certain social standing, but these are accompanied by acts which focused on particular catholic devotions and reflect a different aspect of the social-religious complex in which he was ensconced. It is worth considering Occo's positions in some detail, as the matter impacts the current hypotheses surrounding the possible datings and origins of the Occo Codex.

Best-known is Occo's status as churchwarden from 1513-18 at the free-standing chapel known as the "Heilige Stede" (Holy Place, sacer locus, sacra aedes, later known as the Nieuwezijds Kapel), dedicated to the devotion of the Holy Sacrament (Corpus Christi). Located on the Rokin in the heart of the city and close to both the Begijnhof and Occo's home (which had an entrance in the same street as well as the Kalverstraat), this chapel was for centuries a locus of Catholic fervor within the city: even its 1908 demolition under the ownership of the Reformed Congregation of Amsterdam came during a growing revival of the procession of the Blessed Sacrament.18 The chapel was founded originally in 1347 on the location of a recent miracle involving the Sacrament, when a wondrously preserved host from communion continually returned to this same place, quickly becoming a well-trafficked pilgrimage site.19 The more generally-known feast of Corpus Christi had already been established in the 13th century, and by the early 16th century, the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament had grown vigorously into a widespread European devotion, witnessed by the growing number of special foundations and extraordinary prayers to be recited at mass in honor of the saving host (see below). At the Heilige Stede, the miraculous host was brought out in procession every Wednesday, traveling to the Oude Kerk and back; on extraordinary occasions this event included the additional accompaniment of trumpets, shawms, and drums.20 Occo's position at the Heilige Stede thus attached him to a central institution of his adopted city and integrated him into a wider current of international catholic devotion.

The banker traded up from his tenure at the Heilige Stede to a more overtly political position, as one of the masters of the Holy Cross Guild in 1519. One of the city's two main guilds populated by the ruling circles (the "rycksten, eersten en notabelsten" families), the Kruisgild was based on the New Side (in the Nieuwe Kerk) while the Guild of Our Lady was attached to the Old Side.21 This appointment confirmed Occo's position among the most important figures of Amsterdam in his day, allowing him to maintain political influence without holding an official post in the city's government. His final church position was as churchwarden of the Nieuwe Kerk, where he served from 1521-26, at last occupying a leading post at one of the two largest institutions in Amsterdam.22

It would be practically inconceivable for Occo, given his social standing and conspicuous devotion, not to follow the customs of his time and offer endowments and gifts to the ecclesiastical institutions which he served in Amsterdam. The primary documentation of such actions, however, has for the most part not survived. The will which Occo drew up in 1532 and reaffirmed less than two weeks before his death in 1537 included monetary gifts to all of the major hospitals, churches, convents, and chapels of Amsterdam, without, however, singling out any one for particular attention.23 The only specific church services for which Occo left donations were the hours and the mass of the Sacrament at the Nieuwe Kerk (in addition to discharging all of the debts owed him by that institution), but these were already existing services and not new foundations. Considering the extent of Occo's wealth and material possessions, the testament is in fact a rather brief document, in which the division of the estate is left largely in the hands of his wife. Any perpetual foundations created by the Frisian must have been set up in different contexts (where he would have greater control over their implementation) and recorded in the now scarce documents of the local churches, chapels, and ecclesiastical notaries.

Despite the lack of foundation documents and official records of gifts by Occo, however, there still remains evidence of this type of activity, and interestingly this points unequivocally to the Corpus Christi-centered chapel of the Heilige Stede. Alaard of Amsterdam, who had rather unsympathetically portrayed the banker in his letter to Erasmus in the 1510s (see above) and at a later point even penned a scornful poem against him ("Terra duos aluit Foccones Frisia"),24 appears to have found reason to put aside his displeasure eventually. The scholar mourned Occo's death in verse, composing both an epitaph and a longer "Comploratio super immatura luctuosaque morte Pompei Occonis Phrisii."25 Within the latter poem, a single ecclesiastical institution is mentioned as the focus of Occo's patronage in a passage which merits quoting in full:

Huiusque s a c r a e semper aut semper fere
Aedituus a e d i s destinatus, ilico
Partim suis, partim piorum sumptibus
Donariisque, sic eam, ut nemo magis
Locupletat; ornat, instruit, vestit, polit
Aras sacratas marmoreas templi tholos,
Fabra dolatas aggerens statuas manu.
Hoc curat unum, seduloque nititur,
Ut literatos, ut probos habeat viros
Rudem popellum qui doceant verbum dei
Ut prisca redeat religio, pietas, fides
Ut et sacerdotes suae memores vicis
Piis subinde mitigent liturgiis,
Placentque nobis jure commotum Deum
Always, or almost always, appointed churchwarden of this Heilige Stede, he enriched it directly more than anyone else, through his own offerings and those of the pious; he decorated, equipped, clothed, and adorned the consecrated marble altars and domes of the temple, bringing images hewn by a skilful hand. He attended to this one matter, and strove diligently, that it have learned and virtuous men to teach the uncultivated rabble the word of God, that the older religion, piety, and faith might return, and that priests, mindful of their duty, might continually with pious liturgies appease and reconcile to us a justly angered God.

"Locupletat, ornat, instruit, vestit, polit:" the material attachment of Occo to the Heilige Stede was a point of pride and a public sign of his role in the religious culture of early 16th-century Amsterdam. An unusual nine-panel altarpiece was painted upon Occo's commission in 1518 by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen on thick cloth so that it could withstand the elements when it was brought out in procession from the Heilige Stede with the Sacred Host.26 It has been conjectured likewise that a surviving early 16th-century organ originally kept at the Heilige Stede was installed during Occo's tenure and reflects his desire to enrich the liturgy.27 Although donations of a similar kind surely must have existed at Occo's other institutions, the evidence of these is lacking, and it is highly suggestive that Alaard singled out the Heilige Stede for his treurzang; one could presume that Occo was associated in the public eye more closely with this chapel than with any other foundation.

Alaard's exposition of Occo's devotion to the chapel of the sacrament takes on a more pointed significance in connection with the Alamire choirbook. As noted above, the Dutch text at the bottom of the first music page confirms that Occo (and his heirs) loaned the manuscript to the Heilige Stede for an indefinite period (see Illustration 3). This note is undated and offers no further information. A second inscription, however, written in Latin on f. 1r (an otherwise blank folio preceding any music by several pages), provides a slightly more formal statement: "Anno salutis humanae M. D. XXXVII. Calend. Decem. Pompeius occo Frisius & Sibrandus filius libri huius vsum huius sacellj qui sacer locus appellatur esse voluerunt, proprietatem tamen sibi posterisque suis in perpetuum reseruantes" [In the year of salvation of man 1537, on the Kalends of December (1 December), Pompeius Occo of Friesland and Sybrant, his son, desired this book to be used at this chapel, which is called the Heilige Stede, reserving ownership however for themselves and their descendants in perpetuity.] Dating from little more than a week after Pompeius Occo's death, the inscription again states that the book is to be used at the Heilige Stede, while it remains legally the property of the Occo family. The phrase "huius sacellj qui sacer locus appellatur" ("of this chapel, which is called the Heilige Stede"), moreover, could suggest a somewhat more specific circumstance: the manuscript was already at the chapel when this note was written in 1537.

On the face of it, this information leads to an entirely logical interpretation of the book's early history. Occo, as master of the Heilige Stede during the 1510s, showed himself ready and willing to commission luxury productions and decorations for the chapel, and the Alamire choirbook would be just one of many such gifts, especially suitable with its concentration of music for Corpus Christi. Although Occo almost certainly had the financial means to maintain a choir in the domestic chapel which must have existed in his home, there is no evidence that he ever took such a step, and he may have treated the nearby Heilige Stede as a suitable surrogate for a personal chapel.28 This hypothesis that the Occo Codex was originally commissioned for use at the sacer locus, however, is complicated by the conflicting conclusions regarding the manuscript's date of completion, once thought to be c. 1526-34 and later revised to c. 1521 (see below) - both periods when Occo's connection to the Heilige Stede is undocumented. Untangling the threads of the book's supposed origins will require a closer examination of its physical characteristics and the previous dating hypotheses.

II. The Material Artefact

Brussels, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, MS IV.922

Dimensions:470 x 340mm29
Material:Parchment, i + 151 + i folios
Foliation:Modern pencil, 1-151
Cover:Original, calfskin on boards, blind-tooled lozenge design, brass bosses, corner plates, clasps

Table 2: Gathering structure of BrusBR IV.92230

Fols. Gathering Leaves Contents
[i]-3 1 4 [Blank flyleaves, inscription]
4-11 2 (a) 8 O salutaris settings; misc. Corpus Christi music
12-19 3 (b) 8 Barra, Missa Ecce panis
20-27 4 (c) 8

28-35 5 (d) 8 Josquin, Missa Pange lingua
36-41 6 (e) 6
42-49 7 (f) 8 Mouton, Missa Benedictus dominus
50-57 8 (g) 8
58-66 9 (h) 9
67-74 10 (j) 8 Gascongne, Missa Mijn herte
75-82 11 (k) 8
83-90 12 (l) 8 Mouton, Missa L'oserai-je dire
91-98 13 (m) 8
99-102 14 (n) 4
103-110 15 (o) 8 Forestier, Missa L'homme armé
111-116 16 (p) 6
117-124 17 (q) 8 Isaac et al., Missa Paschalis
125-132 18 (r) 8
133-140 19 (s) 8 Févin, Missa pro fidelibus defunctis
141-148 20 (t) 8
149-[152] 21 4 [Blank flyleaves]

A luxury music manuscript from the leading professional producer of the period, the Occo Codex bears the indications of systematic and cooperative construction by multiple craftsmen. As in practically every book associated with the early 16th-century Habsburg-Burgundian court "scriptorium," multiple scribal hands (for both music and text) are found in close conjunction and sometimes complicated patterns suggesting certain orders and forms of copying work (e.g., the reservation of certain complex canonic voices for the scribe who proofread the work of all the others, as in the Credo of Forestier's Missa L'homme armé). Different styles of decorations range from historiated initials containing specific scenes, to more fanciful letters with grotesques and flora, to comparatively simpler monochromatic calligraphic initials (examples of each are reproduced further below in Illustration 6). These shifting scribal and artistic styles, along with changes between discrete units of musical repertory (a mass, a set of liturgical motets, etc.), can usually be related to the physical divisions within the completed choirbook as it exists today. With the closer inspection of these multi-faceted relationships, a new understanding of the book's historical position begins to emerge.

The dating of the manuscript in the modern literature hung originally upon a single, seemingly unambiguous point providing a terminus post quem: the ascription of the Requiem closing the choirbook to "Anthonius diuitis pie memorie +" (f. 134r; see Illustration 4) indicates that the composer Anthoine Divitis (Le Riche) was dead when the mass was copied, thus probably 1525 at the earliest (the last year in which Divitis can be traced for certain).31 Although the only other ascriptions for this composition are to Anthoine de Févin, it was presumably the understanding of the work's copyist in Occo that Divitis was the composer and was deceased. Flynn Warmington, however, raised objections to this dating, suggesting that the unique Divitis ascription was a purely mechanical scribal error resulting from a misreading of a similar Févin ascription.32 Certainly the forms of the ascription in VienNB Mus. 15497 and JenaU 5 ("Anthoni defeuin pie memorie +") are suspiciously close to that in the Occo Codex, and the scribes of the Habsburg-Burgundian court elsewhere demonstrate their disconnection from French court musicians, occasionally misreading even well-known names.33

Illustration 4: BrusBR IV.922, ff. 133v-134r
BrusBR IV.922, ff. 133v-134r (Requiem)

A material aspect of the choirbook's construction suggests how such an error might have arisen, through misreading of the abbreviated rubrics used as an aid in laying out and assembling the manuscript. Nearly every leaf of the Occo Codex originally featured markings in its upper and/or lower margins.34 In the lower margins, gathering signatures in brown ink have almost always been trimmed away, but traces remain on several sheets, e.g., "k2" at the bottom of f. 76r (precisely as expected on the second folio of the tenth gathering of music; see n. 30). These were clearly added at the point when the ordering of gatherings had been finalized and the book was ready to be bound, i.e., at one of the final stages in its construction. The upper margins, on the other hand, contain highly abbreviated words and phrases in light charcoal indicating textual incipits of the sections on the page, e.g., "k" or "kj" for Kyrie, or "Cruc." for Crucifixus. These rubrics are always in a light, informal and highly-abbreviated script attesting to their private use in the layout process rather than as an aspect of the choirbook's display program.35 There are reasons (to be discussed below) for seeing these small notices as preceding every other copying action, alongside other types of preliminary markings typical of Alamire books, such as numerals representing the number of staves to be ruled on a page and extremely faint (drypoint?) mass titles on blank pages at the beginning of new gatherings.36 The single such item visible at the opening of the Requiem is the word "Requiem" at the top of f. 134r followed by a word of which too little survives for legibility (see Illustration 5). The second word was perhaps another textual cue (e.g., "Eternam"), but just possibly could have been instead an easily misread composer attribution to be recopied by the scribe who added titles and ascriptions in red ink.

Illustration 5: BrusBR IV.922, f. 134r (detail)
BrusBR IV.922, f. 134r (detail)

Regardless of the actual reading, the presence of these various aids for the assembly of the choirbook points squarely to the almost bureaucratic level of pre-planned cooperation which was necessary for its successful execution. That a copying error is likely in the Divitis ascription is supported further by the repertorial aspects and general physical characteristics of the book when these are brought into comparison with other Alamire sources. The major datable sources from this workshop which fall into Huys's suggested date range for Occo (1526-34), for instance, are the choirbooks ordered by the Confraternity of Our Lady in 's-Hertogenbosch around 1530-31.37 The set of composer names which appears in these books points decidedly to a later generation: Willaert, Bauldeweyn, Courtois, Richafort, and Champion are some of the newer figures, alongside standards such as Mouton and La Rue; whereas the latest works in Occo must have been pieces such as Josquin's Missa Pange lingua and the Missa Mijn herte of Gascongne, which begin appearing in sources of the 1510s. The majority of composers in Occo were deceased by the time of the 's-Hertogenbosch books: Isaac (d. 1517), La Rue (d. 1518), Josquin (d. 1521), Mouton (d. 1522), and Weerbeke (last mentioned in 1517) offer relatively firm evidence of their dates of activity, and while considerably less biographical information survives for the others (Barra, Forestier, Gascongne, and Vourda), what little there is dates again from the 1510s.38

On repertorial grounds, then, Occo's choirbook would sit rather uncomfortably with the datings suggested by Huys, and it would seem justifiable to look for evidence of an older genesis. The central element of the argument for the earlier dating of the Occo Codex in the past has been the concordance of scribal hands with other Alamire books, as laid out by Flynn Warmington.39 By identifying the handwriting of specific scribes in numerous books from the workshop, Warmington's work has both expanded the presumed level of scribal cooperation which went into these productions and also provided a number of anchor points for dating the manuscripts by associating certain scripts with certain periods of activity. Although the specifics of the reasoning behind many of these datings remain frustratingly out of reach in the scarce published literature, these have furnished the generally accepted current dating of the Occo Codex: c. 1520-21, with one section written c. 1515-16.

This is not the place for a full analysis of Warmington's results - a subject which necessarily extends to encompass all of Alamire's book productions - but her arguments regarding the Occo Codex must be examined in closer detail, as they impinge ultimately upon the matter of the choirbook's original destination and ritual context. Warmington distinguishes four music hands present in the manuscript, identified as her scribes C2, D, I, and a proofreader (possibly Alamire).40 The three main hands copied discrete units (see Table 3) which are quite clearly distinguishable, not only by script elements but also factors such as page layout, decoration styles, and ink types (much more readily discernable through examination of the actual manuscript than is apparent in the printed facsimile; samples appear in Illustration 6a-c).

Table 3: Music hands in the Occo Codex

Hand Folios Gatherings Compositions
I 4r-41r 2-6 Weerbeke, O salutaris hostia
Anon., O salutaris hostia
La Rue, O salutaris hostia
Anon., O salutaris hostia
Anon., Tantum ergo
Anon., Cibavit eos
Anon., O salutaris hostia
Barra, Missa Ecce panis
Josquin, Missa Pange lingua
D 42v-116v 7-16 Mouton, Missa Benedictus dominus
Gascongne, Missa Mijne herte
Mouton, Missa L'oserai-je dire
Forestier, Missa L'homme armé
C2 117v-125r 17-18 Isaac, Kyrie paschale a6
Vourda, Kyrie paschale
Isaac, Kyrie paschale a4
I 125v-148r 18-20 Isaac, Missa paschalis a6 (G-S-A)
Févin, Missa pro fidelibus defunctis

Illustration 6: Main music hands in the Occo Codex

a. Hand I (f. 12v)
BrusBR IV.922, f. 12v (detail): Hand I

b. Hand D (f. 67v)
BrusBR IV.922, f. 67v (detail): Hand D

c. Hand C2 (f. 117v)
BrusBR IV.922, f. 117v (detail): Hand C2

The "odd man out" in Warmington's analysis of the manuscript is hand C2, which copied the three Easter Kyrie settings beginning on f. 117v. This section was supposedly written around five years earlier than the rest of the choirbook, and presumably incorporated after the commission from Occo. There are reasons to be wary of this suggestion. Most compelling is the physical integration of C2's section with that which follows it in hand I. Gathering 17 runs from ff. 117-24, encompassing most but not all of the three Paschal Kyrie settings: the last page of Isaac's 4-voice setting appears on the first page of the next gathering, with no indication at all of a transformed script style. Certainly no physical evidence suggests in any way that the outer bifolium of Gathering 18 was prepared at a different time than the inner leaves. The title itself of the C2 section on f. 117v indicates that a full Easter mass was intended here, featuring works by multiple composers: "Missa paschale sex vocum. heinricus ysaac. &cetera" (see Illustration 6c). This is precisely how ff. 117v-131r should be read, encompassing the entirety of Isaac's Missa Paschalis a6 with two alternative Kyries interpolated (by Vourda and Isaac), the whole unit indeed copied in two different scripts as a single item. If ff. 117v-125r had been copied years before the following pages, then we should expect at least that the title on 117v is a later addition, created when the rest of Isaac's mass was appended to the three Kyries, but this appears not to be the case: the titles in the C2 section (on ff. 117v, 121v, and 123v) are in a hand not found in the other sections of the choirbook, and certainly not in the sections copied by hand I.41

The nature of the evidence for the temporal division in the choirbook's creation, therefore, demands closer scrutiny. Since the paleographical data support a conflicting interpretation - that hands C2 and I worked in close proximity to create the Missa paschalis unit in the manuscript - the basis of Warmington's scribal datings must be examined. Hands C2 and D both fall into the group which Warmington finds in manuscripts up to about 1520, whereas I is considered to be later.42 The most specific evidence concerns C2, which appears almost always in conjunction with text hand X; based on the development of X's script, Warmington places the limits of C2's copying activity from the death of Févin (c. 1512) to March 1516 (when Archduke Charles can be portrayed as king of Spain). Hand D is likewise dated on the basis of text hand X, appearing supposedly around 1516; of Warmington's two examples of D appearing after around 1520, one is the Occo Codex itself and the other is a self-contained parchment section of the paper book MontsM 766, a manuscript which in any case has no external clues as to its dating. Lastly, hand I is simply identified as active after 1520 without further explanation - although it is now apparent that this hypothesis must be the entire basis for dating the Occo Codex's completion to 1520-21.

The threat of circularity looms large in this dating method, and Herbert Kellman's call for caution in accepting these datings while the basic data remains largely unpublished and unscrutinized is well taken.43 The process begins from the solid starting position of historical evidence - the setting of termini post and ante quem on the basis of heraldic information and the death dates of composers who are noted in the manuscripts as deceased, for instance. At the point, however, at which manuscripts without such identifiers are assigned dates and then used as the basis for dating further books, the cart has been placed before the horse. Particularly troubling is the setting of fixed termini for certain scribal hands based on the observation that they do not appear in manuscripts before or after a certain year, when the majority by far of Alamire's productions cannot be dated even to a span of less than ten years. The workings of this procedure with the scripts in the Occo Codex can be observed with the data compiled in Table 4a and Table 4b. The discrepancy in number of sources between the two tables is immediately apparent: many of the manuscripts (and fragments) featuring the music hands found in the Occo Codex provide absolutely no firm evidence regarding their dating and therefore cannot have a significant effect on dating hypotheses for Occo. For those which do offer fixed terminal points (Table 4b), these are usually wider than the hypothesized dates in the literature, which are often based on speculative connections to historical events (e.g., diplomatic meetings) which cannot be taken as proven even when they are reasonable guesses.44

Table 4

a. Scribal concordances of main music hands in the Occo Codex45

Hand Manuscripts
I AntP M18.13/2, MunBS 6, MunBS 34
D BrusSG 9423, BrusSG 9424, GhentR D 3360B, JenaU 2, JenaU 4, JenaU 5, JenaU 8, JenaU 20, LonBLR 8 G.vii, MontsM 766, MunBS 7, VatS 36
C2 AntP M18.13/1, BrugRA Aanw. 756, BrusBR 215-16, JenaU 9, MechAS s.s., MontsM 773, ?MunBS 7, OxfBLL a.8, TongerenSA 183, VatS 160, VienNB Mus. 15497

b. Datings based on firm external evidence46

Hand Manuscript Terminus post quem Terminus ante quem
I MunBS 34 1521 -
D JenaU 2 c. 1512 1525
JenaU 4 1509 1519
JenaU 5 c. 1512 1525
JenaU 8 - 1525
JenaU 20 c. 1512 1525
LonBLR 8 G.vii 1509 -
VatS 36 1513 1521
C2 BrusBR 215-16 death of Pipelare (c. 1515?) 1533
JenaU 9 1509 -
VatS 160 1513 1521
VienNB Mus. 15497 c. 1512 1516

The resulting observations change the received picture of Occo's choirbook. Whereas none of the sources containing hands D and C2 must necessarily date from later than 1513, thus corresponding closely to Warmington's suggestions (with a margin of several years), the termini ante quem are usually more open-ended/later than she allows for. Hand I, on the other hand, appears in only a single book with a fairly firm terminal date, MunBS 34 (which must be from 1521 or later if the cross after the name "Josquin des pres" on f. 1v is read as an indication that the composer was deceased).47 On repertorial grounds the other complete choirbook with hand I, MunBS 6, should probably be placed in the 1520s (including masses by Bauldeweyn, Vinders, and Champion), while the only identified work in the Antwerp fragment is the earlier Missa Missus est ascribed to Moulu and Josquin. In the end, the picture of this hand's copying period remains vague, and is based in fact on extremely few sources. Despite the neatness of Warmington's division into two scribal groups roughly before and after 1520, there is in the end no reason to conclude that hand I cannot appear on both sides of this artificial dividing line. The boundaries between the working periods of the different hands cannot be distinguished nearly as strictly as Warmington has done in certain cases, and particularly hands C2 and I can have overlapped even if the assumption that C2 was inactive after 1516 is correct. Given the material evidence of their connection in the 18th gathering of Occo, this overlap is indeed likely.48

With these revised parameters for dating the hands in the Occo Codex, the different types of paleographical data agree well with each other without a hypothetical half-decade break in the manuscript's copying. The years between 1515 and 1520 provide a suitable period when all three hands could have coincided over a relatively contained timespan, and most probably in the years between 1515 and 1517, which fits Warmington's hypotheses concerning the development of text hand X and its coincidence with music hands C2 and D. This suggestion draws support from the indications of formal construction in the choirbook with a particular plan carried out in a consistent way, e.g., the shorthand pre-copying rubrics meant to be trimmed at the top of the pages, all in a single hand throughout the manuscript (including pages copied in each of the three main music scripts). An extremely close level of cooperation was not necessary: note, for instance, that all of the gatherings copied by hand D present liturgically non-specific mass music, while the Corpus Christi works and the Requiem are all in hand I, suggesting that this copyist was responsible for everything that marked the book specifically for Occo's purposes. The overall impression, however, remains consistent: the choirbook was planned and executed in a regular manner and its sections outsourced to individual scribes and artists to be completed within a limited timeframe, in all likelihood after receipt of a commission from Occo.

This revised dating for the Occo Codex, placing not just one section but the entire book probably around 1515-17, holds significant implications for the circumstances of its commissioning. For it is during these years that Pompeius Occo was warden of the Heilige Stede, the chapel devoted specifically to the veneration of the Sacrament (see above), i.e., the one major liturgical focal point of the manuscript. The book was not, then, created c. 1530 when Occo had withdrawn from public ecclesiastical positions, as in Huys's dating; nor in 1520-21, when Occo's main ecclesiastical post was at the Nieuwe Kerk, as in Warmington's hypothesis. Instead, the manuscript represents one of the many material elements in the Frisian banker's connection to the devotion of the Sacrament, especially as practiced in the celebrated chapel down the street from his Amsterdam house. The hint in the Latin inscription of f. 1r that the book was already kept at the Heilige Stede when Occo died in 1537 may in fact offer a clue to its entire early history. The seemingly superfluous Dutch inscription on f. 4r, loaning the book to the chapel, must have been written earlier - while Occo was still alive - indeed, possibly quite soon after the manuscript's delivery to its commissioner. If Occo kept no polyphonic chapel choir in his own household, as surmised above, then one of the local institutions would have been his only recourse for putting the book to practical use and on public display; and none would have been more suitable, given the contents of the manuscript, than the Heilige Stede. Had Occo instituted services at the chapel for the performance of the Requiem in his memory in addition to other masses, such as found combined within this codex? This interpretation connects the choirbook with the Sacrament chapel for essentially the entirety of its "active" period in the 16th century. When its repertory was too outdated for continued performance, and Pompeius Occo's heirs no longer maintained close connections to the Heilige Stede, the manuscript reverted back to the family, with whom it remained until its auction in the 1970s - ultimately saving it from the fate of so many other choirbooks left as scrap and eventually destroyed after they had outlived their usefulness.

The Musical Witness

As noted above in connection with the dating of the Occo Codex, a repertorial picture of the manuscript sits easily with the other productions of Alamire, particularly those likely to date from the 1510s. The Mass Ordinary settings in the book overwhelmingly rely on imitation as the main contrapuntal structuring principle and in many cases embody the most recent trends of these years, as in Josquin's four-voice imitative reworkings of the Pange lingua plainchant and Gascongne's adaptations of the full contrapuntal structures of his polyphonic model Mijn herte. Almost all of the music in Occo can also be found in other sources from the court complex (and their probable successors such as ToleF 2349 ), and a number of these compositions are preserved today solely in Alamire books. Two of these, Forestier's Missa L'homme armé and Vourda's Kyrie paschale, are grouped together with the Kyrie of Isaac's 6-voice Missa paschalis at the end of VatS 160, forming a block of works which are also transmitted contiguously in Occo (especially notable since these are the only known sources of the Vourda Kyrie). A more general link to the Habsburg-Burgundian court complex is offered by an unusual concentration of central French and French court composers, more than two thirds of the book being filled with music by Barra, Gascongne, Mouton, Forestier, and Févin. As Kellman has noted, the lack of French court choirbooks of the early 16th century makes the Alamire manuscripts a vital source for this repertory.50

Exceptions in Occo to the typical patterns of Alamire sources do exist, however, and it is intriguing that these are concentrated at the beginning of the manuscript. Barra's Missa de venerabili sacramento (Ecce panis angelorum) is preserved in no other Alamire book, and the same holds true for six of the seven briefer works in the first gathering (of which five have not been traced in any other source at all). This is no accidental circumstance: it points precisely to the liturgical-devotional particularity of these first sections (see Table 5).

Table 5: Corpus Christi works in BrusBR IV.922

Fols. Composition Composer Liturgical source
4r O salutaris hostia [Weerbeke] Stanza of Verbum supernum
4v-5r O salutaris hostia   Stanza of Verbum supernum
4v-5r O salutaris hostia [La Rue] Stanza of Verbum supernum
5v-6r O salutaris hostia   Stanza of Verbum supernum
6v-8r Tantum ergo sacramentum   Stanza of Pange lingua
8v-10r Cibavit eos   Introit
10v-11r O salutaris hostia   Stanza of Verbum supernum
12v-27v Missa Ecce panis angelorum Barra Mass Ordinary
28v-41r Missa Pange lingua Josquin Mass Ordinary

The numerous short polyphonic settings of the text O salutaris hostia preserved in the first gathering have served in the past to draw attention to the source's emphasis on the feast of Corpus Christi. It remains noteworthy, however, that these compositions are tied to a particular devotional tradition which, unlike the rest of the book's contents, existed on the fringes of the standard liturgical framework, rapidly gaining popularity at the period when the manuscript was created. The four lines of O salutaris hostia form the fifth stanza of Thomas Aquinas's hymn Verbum supernum prodiens, calling upon the Host to bring aid in a time of war. This theme certainly must have resonated with many of Europe's magnates as well as the body of the faithful, for this stanza was extracted from the hymn for performance during the Elevation of the Host at mass just before the Benedictus (a strictly extra-liturgical action) in numerous court and church foundations of the early 16th century.

In France the practice was instituted in 1501-2 by the Duke of Lorraine at two collegiate churches (Saint-Laurent in Joinville and Saint-Georges in Nancy) within a span of two months, where the text was to be sung by two kneeling boys holding torches;51 while at Langres in 1503 the text was established for use at the weekly Mass of the Sacrament.52 In 1512 King Louis XII brought the tradition to the French royal court,53 simultaneously instituting it at the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris as well as its dependent churches; while other major French episcopal seats such as Chartres introduced the practice independently.54 That similar institutions spread to the Low Countries is confirmed by the accounts of the Confraternity of Our Lady in 's-Hertogenbosch, whose singers received special payment every year from 1525 onward for singing O salutaris hostia at the Elevation (surely accounting for some of the settings which appear in the 's-Hertogenbosch choirbooks).55 The topical and political urgency of these performances is highlighted by the fortune of the O salutaris foundation at Notre Dame in Paris. Stopped in 1517, it was reintroduced in 1521 specifically "pro pace et unione principium et huius regni," and in 1524 King Francis I himself offered money to ensure performance during the magna missa at Notre Dame. Although declined by the canons at that point, the practice had been reintroduced yet again for regular usage some time before the 17th century.56 The earliest origins of the tradition remain unclear, but it extends back well beyond the early 16th century. O salutaris was already prescribed to be sung at Elevation (along with several other Corpus Christi texts including Ecce panis angelorum) in Lübeck in 1443; and in a Bruges endowment of c. 1475, it was specified for all masses within the octave of Corpus Christi.57

The existence of Weerbeke's Milanese Ave regina celorum by 1490 - in which the O salutaris hostia text, as the second half of a motet substituting for the Sanctus, occupies precisely the position specified in the foundations - suggests a yet wider geographical span, raising questions about the position of the Milanese style and liturgy in affecting later northern practices. The rather homophonic anonymous O salutaris hostia on ff. 4v-5r of the Occo Codex (in between those of Weerbeke and La Rue), for instance, moves mainly in breves in all voices and clearly owes much to the style of Weerbeke's more severe setting. Likewise, every phrase of the extraordinary 5-voice setting begins with several breves or longae in all voices. The settings of this text selected (and extracted from longer works) for the Occo Codex in fact all bear noticeable elements of an unusually simple style of writing, characterized in its extreme form as a "devotional style" associated with solemn liturgical actions.58

That this type of setting was chosen for Occo's manuscript (or even newly created by re-texting another devotional work, as possibly occurred with the last anonymous setting) is unsurprising in the wider context of public devotions to the Sacrament, such as the processions in which the wonder-working host was brought out from the Heilige Stede. The other two works in the first gathering, decidedly more intricate compositions in a style which brings to mind Isaac especially, connect to various points in the Corpus Christi celebrations. The famous Tantum ergo text, extracted from the longer hymn Pange lingua (much as O salutaris was extracted from Verbum supernum), points again to the performance of the Occo Codex setting in a liturgically non-specific position, or at least in a newly specified function such as during processions. Cibavit eos remains the only item in the first gathering with a fixed and traditional liturgical position, as the Introit of the Mass of the Sacrament; the responsory form including Psalm verse and doxology included in the setting indicate unambiguously that this was the intended use of the work's copy as preserved in the Occo Codex, even though all other Proper items are lacking here.59 The opening section of the manuscript thus provides an aggregate of materials to surround the celebration of the Mass of the Sacrament, whether on the annual feast of Corpus Christi or in one of the more frequent celebrations specified by particular foundations.

Interestingly, both of the two Mass Ordinary cycles which follow upon this first gathering contain melodic links back to the opening works through their incorporation of plainchant materials: Josquin's Missa Pange lingua is based upon the same melody as Tantum ergo, while Barra's Missa Ecce panis makes specific reference to the Elevation tradition discussed above, by incorporating O salutaris hostia as an extra cantus firmus during its single Osanna. As noted above, this tight emphasis on devotion to the Sacrament within a deluxe presentation manuscript is unusual. The only comparable cases within Alamire choirbooks provide only indirect analogies: MunBS 34, containing solely settings of the Salve regina, was appropriate for year-round Marian Salve services, and JenaU 20's exclusive focus on Magnificat settings connects it generically to Vespers celebrations. In the case of the Occo Codex, of course, the focus on Corpus Christi is readily explained with reference to the personal devotions and institutional connections of its Frisian patron; but a large portion of the manuscript's music remains outside this context. The Paschal compositions on fols. 117v-131r were treated by the book's creators as a single composite mass, and no further emphasis on Easter celebrations is discernable in the book.60 The positioning of a Missa pro fidelibus defunctis, however, as the final item in a manuscript clearly associated with a single donor, is suggestive, the whole book thereby calling to mind the endowments of the period in which various masses are instituted for every day of the week in addition to the Requiem.61 Without pressing the point too far, it may be plausible to read the manuscript's mixture of liturgically-specific works and "generic" masses (L'homme armé, Benedictus dominus, Mijn herte, etc.) as reflecting an endowment of Occo and his family, although any specific evidence is lacking (such as an indisputable programmatic reading of the central portions of the book).

The extracting of sections of longer compositions in the first layer of the Occo Codex (e.g., the Weerbeke and La Rue O salutaris settings, possibly the Cibavit eos from a set of Corpus Christi propers) represents only one of various musical adaptations found in this source's versions of individual works. Re-texting in the Sanctus of Isaac's Missa paschalis a6, for instance, has provided polyphony for the Osanna, which in all other sources is to be performed in plainchant/organ according to the alternatim scheme. The more usual direction of modification, however, is the removal of musical material. A number of the mass settings throughout the book - copied incidentally in all but one case by hand I - are lacking complete sections within longer movements, with only a few instances of replacement material drawn from different settings (see Table 6).

Table 6: Missing sections in Occo Codex versions of compositions

Composer Composition Missing section Replacement material
Barra Missa Ecce panis angelorum Agnus III none
Josquin Missa Pange lingua Pleni sunt unidentified
Benedictus Benedictus from Gascongne, Missa Es hat ein sin
Agnus II none
Gascongne Missa Mijn hert Agnus III none
Isaac Missa Pascalis a6 Quoniam tu solus none
Tu solus altissimus none
Févin Requiem Sicut cervus none

Note: table does not include sections deliberately extracted from larger works, i.e., Isaac's 4-part Kyrie paschale (from the Missa Paschalis "ad organum") and the Weerbeke and La Rue O salutaris settings.

As has been noted in the past, the version of Josquin's Missa Pange lingua in the Occo Codex is "spurious," with one two-voice section missing entirely (Agnus II) and two of the others replaced by sections from unrelated compositions.62 In the context of Table 6, the lack of an Agnus dei section is not surprising - five of the manuscript's eight mass settings are missing one section, three of these from the Agnus dei. More unusual is the replacement of the Pleni sunt and Benedictus, an act which Jaap van Benthem suggests was directly related to the soloistic demands of Josquin's sections.63

The physical evidence indicates that in the case of Josquin's mass at least, the absent Agnus II was originally intended for inclusion when the bifolia of its gatherings were set up for copying. As noted above, the upper edges of many pages in the manuscript display partially trimmed rubrics matching the music sections contained on those pages. The single instance where such a rubric does not match its page contents occurs at the end of the Missa Pange lingua on f. 41v, where the blank page ending the gathering in fact was designated as "agnus 2us". Combined with the fact that this page comes at the end of an unusually short gathering (6 leaves instead of the 8 which are standard in this manuscript), a hypothetical plan of copying becomes clear. The copyists at first laid out the blank bifolia in a standard pattern according to an exemplar in which the mass filled a full two quaternions, the Agnus II coming on the penultimate opening.64 When it became clear either before or during the copying that the rest of the mass could be fit into less space, the gathering structure was changed: either the outer bifolio was removed before copying, or the final two folios were cut out. Given that Agnus I is not a particularly extended section (some blank space remains on its opening, ff. 39v-40r), it may have been the plan at some stage to fit Agnus II onto the same opening, while the complete Agnus III was squeezed into every bit of space on the following opening (even necessitating an extra staff on f. 41r, added later and without text by the proofreader). In the end, either Agnus II was forgotten (perhaps due to an oversight in changing the now-trimmed rubrics) or else it was deemed impossible to fit it onto the same pages as Agnus I: although the total amount of free space on the opening would have allowed the copying of the two-voice music, the page would have had to have been laid out rather differently to accommodate the second section.

What the example of Josquin's mass and the copying rubrics demonstrates quite neatly is the extent to which the copying process was formalized and probably handled by multiple semi-independent craftsmen, something which is surely related to the irregularities occasionally encountered. There is, however, no single explanation for the transmission peculiarities in Occo's manuscript. In some cases, as just described, it must have been a result of the communal constructive process, a sort of standardized procedure which encountered difficulties in dealing with exceptional situations when they arose during copying. Other times there were deliberate musical reasons for making modifications, or a desire to create a specific type of collection with whatever materials could be found at hand.

An overall evaluation of the choirbook's treatment of its source materials may thus need to recognize that a surprising amount of music in the book is handled in a licentious manner. But this is hardly a fair judgment in the wider historical picture: in individual cases, this type of usage is by no means extremely unusual in the context of 16th-century musical transmission, without a modern conception of the fully prescribed text and fixed authorial product. Alamire and his colleagues were unabashed in this instance about modifying music to fit different conditions. In the present manuscript, we know that there were in fact particular circumstances impinging upon the choices of music and how it was to be handled: a specific devotion upheld by a patron and his social circle, and indeed very likely a specific set of performing forces employed at one of his local ecclesiastical institutions.

In the final analysis, it would be a disservice to Pompeius Occo's choirbook to interpret it as a generic musical miscellany, however costly and luxuriously produced. The personal aspects of the commission go well beyond the typical incorporation of coats of arms and mottos into several illuminated initials. A concentration of unusual compositions at the opening of the book - including every one of the five pieces unique to this manuscript - highlights unmistakably the devotional focus on the Sacrament which runs throughout the first sections. That Occo was churchwarden at a chapel with precisely this same dedication, at the time when (according to the paleographical evidence) the book was most likely created, is hardly coincidental. Although Huys's late dating of the choirbook on the basis of its Divitis ascription now seems decidedly unlikely, the cultural-historical context of the Heilige Stede and the Miracle of Amsterdam which he set out for the manuscript remains crucial for interpreting its origins and early history. This was no mere liturgy book but a semi-public devotional item, reflecting the interests cultivated by one patron during his ascent among the elite of his adopted city.

At the same time, there is little sense in viewing the book as a highly personal item. Its material characteristics, format and dimension, point unquestionably to institutional usage, precisely as specified in the one explicit testimony to the intentions of Occo and his family for the manuscript: "libri huius usum huius sacelli (qui sacer locus appellatur) esse voluerunt". In this sense the heraldry and ownership inscriptions in the book take on a different light; Occo and his wife and heirs can be understood as "donors" of the choirbook, much as patrons are depicted in the wings in so many altarpieces given to churches. One can only wonder to what extent the banker, or the singers of the Heilige Stede, had a say in deciding the repertory which filled most of the manuscript, and whether the entire book was related to one or more endowments made by Occo for his perpetual memory and the quickening of his journey through Purgatory. It would have been a smart calculation in the conjoined businesses of eternal salvation and everlasting secular glory. The medieval chapel of the Sacrament which he enriched so ostentatiously with gifts has today been completely destroyed and rebuilt, all of its 16th-century "perpetual" votive services long since stopped, and the vast majority of liturgical codices used in Occo's lifetime have vanished into scraps and oblivion. That this financial agent from Friesland succeeded in keeping his memory alive in this book nearly six centuries later is a small miracle in and of itself.

[1] "Mercatori Pompeio Occoni Phrisio nomen est; mens, vt libros ad vnum omnes in vniuersum distrahat. Index mihi iam non suppetit; certo tamen scio domi suae libris amplius mille delitescere blattisque vndecunque praerodi, libris inquam reconditissimis atque eisdem vetustissimis; in quos si incidas, haud quaquam te reperisse clamabis id quod pueri in faba. Homo qui hanc apparatissimam Rodol Agricolae suppellectilem librariam tam negligenter tamque clam omnibus asseruat, vix dum contriuit Aesopum; satrapam diuitiis, fastu Trasonem modis omnibus adumbrat. Amstelredamis habitat; cuius aedes vulgo Paradisus appellatur. Scripsi cum tabellione nostro vt κατ¬λογον mihi tuo nomine transmittat; id quod pro veteri inter nos necessitudine haud cunctanter, opinor, faciet." Alaard of Amsterdam (Alardus Amstelradamus) to Erasmus, 11 Nov 1516. Opvs epistolarvm Des. Erasmi Roterodami, ed. P.S. Allen, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), no. 485, pp. 376-7; translation from The Correspondence of Erasmus: Letters 446 to 593 (1516 to 1517), transl. R.A.B. Mynors and D.F.S. Thomson, annotated by James K. McConica, Collected Works of Erasmus 4 (Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1977), p. 122.
[2] The most extensive biography of Occo remains Otto Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 1483 bis 1537, Fuggerfaktor in Amsterdam (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1972). See also the introduction to Occo Codex (Brussels, Royal Library Albert I, MS. IV. 922), facsimile ed. with introduction by Bernard Huys (Buren: Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 1979); Bernard J. M. de Bont, Het geslacht Occo en het Gebouw van Barmhartigheid te Amsterdam (Amsterdam: V. Langenhuysen, 1893), pp. 9-13; and id., Genealogische en biographische mededeelingen over de voorouders en afstammelingen van Joost Buyck Sijbrantsz., Ridder, Schepen, Raad en Burgemeester van Amsterdam van 1532 tot 1578 (Amsterdam: C. L. van Langenhuysen, 1902), p. 20.
[3] For descriptions of the known music manuscripts prepared by Alamire's workshop, see Herbert Kellman (ed.), The Treasury of Petrus Alamire: Music and Art in Flemish Court Manuscripts 1500-1535 (Ghent: Ludion, 1999).
[4] See Bernard Huys, 'An Unknown Alamire-Choirbook ("Occo Codex") Recently Acquired by the Royal Library of Belgium', Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis 24 (1974): 1-19, at 3.
[5] Occo Codex, xi-xii.
[6] See the genealogical tree inserted into Huys, 'An Unkown Alamire-Choirbook', 4-5.
[7] See Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 54-5.
[8] Kernkamp, G.W., 'Rekeningen van Pompejus Occo aan koning Christiaan II van Denemarken, 1520-1523', Bijdragen en Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap 36 (1915): 255-329. For notice of the payments to Alamire, see Eugeen Schreurs, 'Petrus Alamire: Music Calligrapher, Musician, Composer, Spy', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 15-27, at 21.
[9] "Noch Valentijn Maecklelen von Mechelen und mester Pieter Alamire, de mijn g. h. de kunst solen leren vont berchwerk, den ersten 50 horns gulden schenckt, den andern 20 horns gulden, somma m[aec]t. f. 42 st. -." (Kernkamp, 'Rekeningen', 314); "Meer betalde ick mester Pieter Alamire tho Mechellen up Harmon Wilmzons bevel 40 golden g., up rekeninge, die Steffen Hofstain von hem tho mijns g. hern behoeff hadt hadde voer 2 jaeren, . . . f. 56 st. -." (ibid., 325).
[10] Ibid., 259; Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 57, 60.
[11] On Alamire's activities as a political spy in other circumstances, see Schreurs, 'Petrus Alamire'.
[12] Assembled from the transcriptions in Kernkamp, 'Rekeningen', 286-90.
[13] Occo arranged the finances for Christian II's journey through the Antwerp branch of the Frescobaldi bank, in order to avoid entangling the Fuggers in the Scandinavian political controversies surrounding the king. Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 62-3.
[14] Ibid., 252.
[15] Reproduced in Occo Codex, xiv.
[16] See Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 238-9; Occo Codex, xv, xxi. Both publications include reproductions of the frontispiece of the prayer book.
[17] See Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 233-51.
[18] Jan Bank and Maarten van Buuren, 1900: The Age of Bourgeois Culture, Dutch Culture in a European Perspective 3 (Assen and London: Royal Van Gorcum and Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), p. 371. Nübel sees the Heilige Stede as the "Mittelpunkt der altkirchlichen Partei" in Amsterdam during the rise of Protestantism (Pompejus Occo, p. 245). A modern Protestant chapel built on the site retains none of the features of the building known in the 16th century, although occasional excavation work continues.
[19] The miracle story is recounted in Occo Codex, xx.
[20] Amsterdam, Stadsarchief, 740/1202, pp. 11-14. This 19th-century inventory of items kept at the Heilige Stede lists various 16th-century legal documents relating to the regulations for the procession. Items 30 and 34 concern the participation of the city trumpeters in 1557 and 1521, respectively. An explanatory note on p. 14 relating to the 1521 procession specifies that the advice of the burgomasters would be sought concerning livery for the "Trommelen, tamborynen, trompetten, schalmijen, enz". A brief 17th-century memoire of how the the procession was held before 1578 ("alle Woensdagen 's morgens ten vyf uren, Winter ende Somer, in hagel, sneeu ende regen") can be found in Amsterdam, Stadsarchief, 740/1214 (joined to an 18th-century printed pamphlet containing the same text).
[21] Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 56.
[22] De Bont, Het geslacht Occo, 10-11.
[23] The entire will is transcribed in J.F.M. Sterck, 'Aanteekeningen over 16e eeuwsche Amsterdamsche portretten', Oud-Holland 43 (1926): 249-66, at 263-5. The segment in which Occo leaves money for ecclesiastical institutions may be quoted here in full: "Item Sinte Pieters Gasthuys binnen deser stede hondert ende tsestich Carolus guldenen eens daer voren die gasthuysmrs gehouden zullen wesen alle jaer op den sterftdach van hem testateur ten eeuwighen dage geduijrende te geven elck sieck mensche daerinne leggende een stuver om haer vrye wille daer mede te doen. Item onser vrouwen gasthuys binnen desz stede veertich Carolus gulden eens. Item die arme weeskinderen by de heyligher stede vyftich Carolus gulden eens. Item die Leprosen buyten desz stede twintich Carolus guldens eens. Item die oude kerck drie gld. eens. Item die nieuwe kerck alle tgene die hem testateur schuldich is, die zeve geteyden in die nieuwe kerck drie gulden eens, de Sacraments misse inde selve kerck drie gulden eens. Item Carthuysers Convent buyten desz stede, die minnebroeders, Pauwels broeders ende die Clarissen elcx ses gulden tot een maeltyt. Item die Cellebroers ende Sellesusters t'samen ses gl eens. Item elck convent binnen desz stede hiervooren niet genomineert een Carolus gulden eens. Die heyligherstede drie Carolus gl. eens. St. Jacobs ende S. Oloffs Capellen t'samen twe phils gulden. Item die Capellanen aende nieuwezyts elck een philippus gulden eens, die Costers elcx twelff stuvers eens. Broeder Dominicus vander predicaren ordre terminarys inde nieuwekerck een phils gulden eens."
[24] See Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 235-6.
[25] Both transcribed (and translated into Dutch) in De Bont, Het Geslacht Occo, 11-13.
[26] Nübel, Pompejus Occo, 245
[27] Ibid., 245-6.
[28] Note, in this connection, that Occo mentions no personal chaplain in his will, although the "Broeder Dominicus" at the end of the list of institutions may have been his confessor (see n. 23 above).
[29] Physical data from Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 76.
[30] The gathering signatures, represented with lowercase letters after the modern gathering numbers, reflect an attempt to reconstruct the system used by the book's creators, on the basis of occasionally visible gathering signatures which escaped trimming in the margins. This lettering differs from that presented without comment in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 76: there, the lettering follows a modern system distinguishing i and j, which Alamire did not do. The present system can be confirmed by comparing the signature on f. 39r ("e4", gathering 6) with that on 76r ("k2", gathering 11). This indicates additionally that the gatherings of blank flyleaves were not included in Alamire's lettering scheme.
[31] Occo Codex, p. xxiv. Huys's terminus post quem of 1526 is based on a Roman reference to an "Anthonius Richardus" who might not be identifiable as the composer; for the latest summation of the musician's biography see Martin Picker, 'Divitis, Antonius', in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed August 26, 2008).
[32] Flynn Anne Warmington, review of Occo Codex (Brussels, Royal Library Albert I, MS. IV. 922) by Bernard Huys; Sebastien A. C. Dudok van Heel, Notes, 2nd ser., 38 (1981): 406-9.
[33] See, e.g., the multiple attributions of Mathieu Gascongne's Missa Mijn herte in Alamire sources, given to "Johannes" Gascongne in JenaU 2 and MunBS 7 but to "Mathias" Gascongne in MunBS F. Even Pierre de la Rue, the best-represented composer in the Alamire books and undoubtedly the most famous musician at the Habsburg-Burgundian court of the time, is given the name "Petrus la vie" (clearly a simple misreading of "la rue") in JenaU 21, as noted by Warmington (review of Occo Codex, 409).
[34] Such markings have been noted in many of the manuscripts from the Alamire circle; see Jacobijn Kiel, 'An Introduction to the Scribes and their Methods', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 39-40.
[35] Although the writing is extremely faint, it remains nevertheless visible (if not particularly legible) even in the printed facsimile; see, e.g., f. 36v ("Sanctus" and "plenj"). Such markings can also be located in other Alamire productions, such as BrusBR 215-16. Considering the informal character of the script, it might be enlightening to compare the handwriting systematically to that found in Petrus Alamire's surviving letters, which on the surface offers many similarities; for an extract from one such letter, see Schreurs, 'Petrus Alamire', 20.
[36] Two examples of mass titles which can be seen on blank pages in the Occo Codex (but which are too faint for detection in the printed facsimile) are "loseraige" on f. 83r (preceding Mouton's Missa L'oserai-je dire) and "lomme arme" on f. 103r (preceding Forestier's Missa L'homme armé).
[37] See Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 80-83. Véronique Roelvink has recently problematized Smijers's connections between the books ordered by the Confraternity and the surviving sources, concluding that only 's HerAB 72B can be identified with reasonable certainty as one ordered in July 1530. Although Roelvink's arguments weaken Smijers's claims, the evidence ultimately does not seem to undo the older identifications. The matter hinges upon minor discrepancies between the surviving choirbooks and the orders noted in the Confraternity's accounts when the books were commissioned; but the records of the Confraternity do indeed indicate that there was some dissatisfaction with the products delivered by Alamire, offering thus a reasonable explanation for the differences. 'The Alamire Manuscripts of the Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap in 's-Hertogenbosch: New Facts and Considerations', in Bruno Bouckaert and Eugeen Schreurs (eds.), The Burgundian-Habsburg Court Complex of Music Manuscripts (1500-1535) and the Workshop of Petrus Alamire: Colloquium Proceedings, Leuven, 25-28 November 1999 (Leuven-Neerpelt: Alamire, 2003), pp. 203-13.
[38] See the current biographies of these musicians in Grove Music Online (accessed August 2008).
[39] Warmington, review of Occo Codex, 408-409; id., 'A Survey of Scribal Hands in the Manuscripts', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 41-6; Jacobijn Kiel and Flynn Warmington, 'Overview of the Scribes', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 47-52.
[40] Kiel and Warmington, 'Overview of the Scribes'. In the present discussion, the term "scribe" employed by Warmington is replaced by "hand" in order to avoid the misleading implication that the different scripts all necessarily belonged to different people. The very difficulty of distinguishing some of these script styles from one another (witness scribal "families" such as H1, H2, H3, H4) suggests that in a number of cases we must be dealing with different stages of a single musician's script; the overall number of copyists involved in creating the books may be actually rather smaller than currently believed.
[41] The only other remaining hypothesis - that the composite Paschal mass was planned in 1515-16, the first three Kyries immediately copied, and then the project abandoned with only a single folio of the second gathering copied until 1520-21 - is needlessly complex unless specific evidence can be found to support it.
[42] Warmington, 'A Survey', 43.
[43] 'Openings: The Alamire Manuscripts After Five Hundred Years', in Bouckaert and Schreurs (eds.), The Burgundian-Habsburg Court Complex, 11-29, at 12: "The method may well be sound, but, here too, the evidence needs to be presented explicitly and in detail before the conclusions can receive full acceptance."
[44] A good example is BrusBR 215-16, compiled for Charles de Clerc, Seigneur de Bouvekercke (d. 1533), at some point after the death of Pipelare. This leaves open a range of approximately two decades, although on the basis of repertory and occasions for presentation this is much more likely to have occurred in the mid-1510s than later. See Barbara Haggh, 'Charles de Clerc, Seigneur de Bouvekercke, and Two Manuscripts: Brussels, Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, MS 215-16, and Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale, MS VI E 40', in Bouckaert and Schreurs (eds.), The Burgundian-Habsburg Court Complex, 185-202.
[45] Derived from Table I in Kiel and Warmington, 'Overview of the Scribes', 52.
[46] All termini in this table are based on the evidence of either: 1. reigning dates and death dates of patrons whose arms they contain; and 2. death dates of composers whose names are accompanied by "pie memorie" or crosses in the choirbooks. Raw data were compiled from the catalogue entries in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury.
[47] As is the case in Eric Jas's catalogue entry in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 118.
[48] Warmington herself, despite offering C2's presence as evidence that this section of the Occo Codex dates strictly from no later than March 1516, suggests elsewhere that C2 may have been a scribe who left the workshop in 1517 when Archduke Charles left for Spain ('A Survey', 43), implicitly admitting the fuzziness of these date limits.
[49] On the post-Alamire manuscripts which can be connected to the court of the Netherlands, see Jacobijn Kiel, 'Terminus post Alamire? On some later scribes', in Bouckaert and Schreurs (eds.), The Burgundian-Habsburg Court Complex, 97-105.
[50] Herbert Kellman, 'Production, Distribution, and Symbolism of the Manuscripts - A Synopsis', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 10-14, at 10. See also Eric Jas, 'The Repertory of the Manuscripts', in Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 28-34.
[51] Pascal Desaux, 'Pierquin de Thérache, maître de chapelle et compositeur des ducs René II et Antoine de Lorraine', in Yves Ferraton (ed.), Symphonies Lorraines: Compositeurs, exécutants, destinataires (Langres: Klincksieck, 1998), pp. 29-76, at 44.
[52] Mary Jennifer Bloxam, A Survey of Late Medieval Service Books from the Low Countries: Implications for Sacred Polyphony, 1460 - 1520 (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1987), p. 420.
[53] Christelle Cazaux, La musique à la cour de François Ier (Paris: École nationale des Chartes and Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, 2002), p. 101. A noteworthy woodcut on the title page of one of Attaignant's mass prints (reproduced on the cover of Cazaux's study) shows the French court chapel choir singing from a book with the text O salutaris hostia, attesting to the continued importance of the tradition in court circles in the 16th century.
[54] Craig Wright, Music and Ceremony at Notre Dame of Paris, 500-1550 (Cambridge, New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 119.
[55] Véronique Roelvink, Gegeven den sangeren: Meerstemmige muziek bij de Illustre Lieve Vrouwe Broederschap te 's-Hertogenbosch in de zestiende eeuw ('s-Hertogenbosch: Adr. Heinen, 2002), p. 120.
[56] Wright, Music and Ceremony, 221.
[57] Bloxam, A Survey, 420-21; Reinhard Strohm, Music in Late Medieval Bruges (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), p. 53.
[58] See Bonnie J. Blackburn, 'The Dispute About Harmony c. 1500 and the Creation of a New Style', in Théorie et analyse musicales 1450-1650, ed. Anne-Emmanuelle Ceulemans and Bonnie J. Blackburn (Louvain-la-Neuve: Université catholique de Louvain, 2001), pp. 1-37, esp. 13-16.
[59] Cibavit eos had served as the Corpus Christi Introit already since the initial creation of the service in the 13th century. The earliest known witness preserving the music of the Corpus Christi mass and office (including all of the Corpus Christi chants employed in the Occo Codex) is reproduced in facsimile in: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds latin 1143, ed. Vincent Corrigan (Ottawa: Institute of Medieval Music, 2001).
[60] Kellman's catalogue entry suggests that the Paschal mass in Occo can be read as part of the Corpus Christi program, because Paschal music can be related to the Last Supper; Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 76. It is unclear why this should be any more true of a Missa paschalis than of any mass at all, since the Eucharist was always the major focus of the mass; and it is clearly going too far to see the choirbook's entire content therefore as connected specifically to Corpus Christi.
[61] For instance, the 1545 will of composer Pierre Vermont the younger (preserved in Paris, Archives nationales, Minutier central, Étude VIII/292) requests masses in the following order for Monday through Saturday: Holy Trinity, Angels, Name of Jesus, Holy Spirit, Holy Cross (with Passion), Blessed Virgin Mary.
[62] Kellman (ed.), The Treasury, 76-77.
[63] See Van Benthem's Commentary on Josquin's mass in the present edition.
[64] It is by no means unusual for a two-voice section (or a section with only one notated voice) to receive its own opening in Alamire manuscripts, despite the amount of unused space which results.

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