Palestrina’s Magnificat Primi Toni

Our Lady of Good Counsel (

On this feast of Saint Caecelia, patroness of music, especially of the ecclesial sort, it is fitting we present one of the greatest of Church musicians, Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina, a master of counterpoint polyphony, of the ars perfecta, the most perfect art of music. Palestrina was contemporaneous with his spiritual director, Saint Philip Neri, who encouraged him in his musical talents, and we are all better for it. The great composer left 32 volumes of his work, each of the highest quality.

In his 1903 motu proprio, Tra le Sollecitudini, promulgated on this feast, Pope Saint Pius X gave directions for music proper to the Liturgy, namely, Gregorian chant and polyphony, a teaching reiterated by the Second Vatican Council but, sadly, rarely put into effect, as we wallow in mediocrity, or worse.

But hope, dear reader, for the beauty is there, a gift from God, if we have but ears to hear, and a voice to sing. In honour of Our Lady, here is Palestrina’s glorious Magnificat in praise of the Mother of God, which would very much please both her, and Saint Caecelia, along with all the rest of the heavenly host: