2014-10-12 Notes from the Bench

“Ecce Panis” by Antonio Lotti

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate



Ecce panis Angelorum,
Factus cibus viatorum,
Vere panis filiorum,
Non mittendus canibus!


Hail, angelic Bread of Heaven,
Now the pilgrim’s hoping-leaven,
Yea, the Bread to children given
That to dogs must not be thrown!




Antonio Lotti (1667-1740) was an Italian composer from the late Baroque era who composed sacred choral music, thirty operas, mass settings, cantatas, madrigals, and a variety of instrumental works. Lotti was born in Venice. At the time of his birth, his father, Matteo Lotti, was employed as Kapellmeister at Hanover, located in the Lower Saxony state of Germany. The principal church of Venice is the famous San Marco’s Basilica. San Marco’s employed many important musicians during the late Renaissance and Baroque periods who established a rich music tradition at the basilica which was influential and well-known throughout Europe. Lotti studied with two musicians from San Marco’s, Lodovico Fuga and Giovanni Legrenzi. He was later was employed by San Marco’s, first as a singer and then as in organist filling the various organist positions there. (San Marco’s had first and second organists as well as assistants.) From 1717 to 1719, Lotti was granted a leave of absence from San Marco’s to produce operas in Dresden. He returned to Venice to assume his duties as the principal organist for the basilica and in 1736 was given the position, maestro de cappella. Lotti was an important teacher and influential composer of his generation; teaching notable composers such as Domenico Alberti, Benedetto Marcello, Giovanni Battista Pescetti, Baldassare Galuppi, and Johann Dismas Zelenka. Lotti may have also had a small influence on the works of the high-baroque era greats, Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel, both of whom possessed a copy of his mass, Missa Sapientiae.

The text for the motet composed by Lotti and sung by our choirs today is a half verse from the Sequence hymn for the feast of Corpus Christi, Lauda Sion Salvatorem (Praise, O Sion, praise thy Savior). This hymn was written by St. Thomas Aquinas around 1264 for the newly prescribed feast day, is one of the four medieval sequence hymn texts retained in the Missale Romanum, and is still sung today.

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