Jean Mouton and his 'Nesciens Mater Virgo virum'

With such a variety of music on our programme for A Luminous New Year's Eve every year, the event is fast becoming a hot ticket in Calgary. Tickets are still available but going fast so reserve yours today - and remember: for the first time, we perform our New Year's Eve concert at the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University!

For a number of our Luminous Voices, one of the biggest thrills in singing with the ensemble is an opportunity to tackle beautiful music from the Renaissance. That tradition continues on New Year's Eve, with Jean Mouton's Nesciens Mater Virgo virum on the programme.

Jean Mouton (c. 1459-1522)

Jean Mouton
(c. 1459-1522)

About Jean Mouton

Jean Mouton was a highly influential French composer and teacher of the Renaissance. A principal composer of the French court, one of his students was Adriaan Willaert, the Flemish composer who contributed greatly to the development of the Italian madrigal, and established Venice as an influential musical centre in the 16th century.

"Mouton was clearly an important figure," says Timothy Shantz, founding director of Luminous Voices. "His music appears in all the standard music history books. His music is known for its refinement and beauty."

Because he was a principal composer for the French court, many of Mouton's works survive. He often composed music for state occasions such as weddings, coronations, papal elections, births, and deaths. His catalogue of work includes:

- 100+ motets, including the Nesciens Mater Virgo virum
- 15 Masses
- Nine settings of the Magnificat
- 20 chansons 

Compositional style

There are two aspects of Mouton's compositional language that perhaps sets himself apart from his contemporaries of the Renaissance.

  1. A continuous flow of vocal lines. The 'older style' of Renaissance composition placed music into clearly defined sections. Instead, Mouton emphasized a continuous flow of vocal lines from beginning to end.
  2. The use of canon. Mouton was a master of canon. His Nesciens Mater Virgo virum demonstrates his prowess at the art of canon; the work is a quadruple canon at an interval of the fifth, proceeding a space of two measures.

Nesciens Mater Virgo virum


Nesciens Mater Virgo virum,
peperit sine dolore Salvatorem saeculorum,
ipsum Regem angelorum.
Sola Virgo lactabat,
ubere de caelo pleno.


Not knowing a man, the Virgin Mary has brought forth without pain the Saviour of the centuries, Him, the King of the angels.
The only Virgin gave milk, her breasts full by heavenly act.

In the Roman Catholic liturgical year, the season of Christmas begins on Christmas Day and continues to the Feast of the Epiphany. The text of Nesciens Mater Virgo virum is an antiphon for the Nativity.

"I first heard this motet sung by The Tallis Scholars but also heard it recently on CBC Radio on Choral Concert," says Shantz.  "It was perfect timing for adding to this concert. The stunning sound of the eight-part counterpoint is spellbinding."

Come hear Luminous Voices perform this masterwork at the Bella Concert Hall on New Year's Eve! Like our performances of Renaissance masterworks such as Tallis' Spem in alium and Ockaghem's Deo Gratia, this will be a performance you, your family and friends will want to experience in person!

Tickets for A Luminous New Year's Eve:

Contact us for a two-concert season subscription, which includes tickets for both A Luminous New Year's Eve AND Leap of Faith!

The world-renowned Tallis Scholars perform 'Nesciens mater virgo virum' by Jean Nesciens at the Auditorium di Santo Stefano al Ponte, Firenze (2014).