Songs About Hope
Esperance & Amors in 14th-century songs by Machaut, Senleches, & others

Songs About Hope Program

Songs About Hope Program Notes

Songs About Hope Texts & Translations


Friday, April 29, 2016
Church of the Good Shepherd, 9 Russell Avenue, Watertown MA 02472
8 PM


Saturday, April 30, 2016
Congregational Church of Weston, 130 Newton Street, Weston MA 02493
8 PM


Sunday, May 1, 2016
Mary Norton Room at Old South Church, 645 Boylston Street, Boston 02116
4 PM


Songs About Hope
Esperance and Amors in 14th-century songs by Machaut, Senleches, and others

How Hope offers the Lover a song and sings it for him

To be in love is a sweet life
and a happy one
for him who knows how to live it,
for the malady is so pleasing
when it is fed
with amorous desire
that it emboldens the lover
to discover
how it multiplies.
It is a sweet trouble to bear,
which brings joy to
the heart of a lover and his lady.
Guillaume de Machaut, Remede de Fortune, 2857-68

An intoxicating evening of songs about Hope (Esperance), the allegorical character from the world of the Romance of the Rose who sustains a courtly lover through the thousand pains of lovesickness, enables him to persevere, and teaches him to find delight in his suffering. The program presents a complex of 14th-century songs which draw from each other’s words and music, including En amer a douce vie (quoted above), which is sung by Esperance in Machaut’s Remede de Fortune; the anonymous song Esperance qui en mon cuer s’embat, which was one of the century’s popular hits; and a trio of interrelated songs by Jacob de Senleches, Philippus de Caserta, and Johannes Galiot composed in the hypnotic late medieval style dubbed the Ars subtilior or “more subtle art” and transmitted by the celebrated Chantilly Codex. (Scroll down to see the miniature from the Machaut MS C depicting Hope singing En amer a douce vie to the Lover.)

Martin Near, voice
Owen McIntosh, voice
Jason McStoots, voice
Debra Nagy, voice, recorder, douçaine
Charles Weaver, lute
Scott Metcalfe, harp & vielle

Below is the miniature from the Machaut MS C depicting Hope singing En amer a douce vie to the Lover in the Remede de Fortune (Paris, Bibliotheque nationale, fonds français 1586, fol. 45vb). You can page through the book using the arrows!