2. Local liturgy

The role of the Basilica's own liturgy, the patriarchino, was obviously central in lending a peculiarly Venetian emphasis to the various official civic and liturgical occasions which filled the festal calendar. It is within this framework that the activities of the cappella marciana and the composition of polyphony for performance at the Basilica from the middle of the fifteenth century onwards can be usefully considered. Initially the patriarchino had been used throughout Venice, but after 1456 it was confined to the Basilica itself, and the principal function of such repertories (at least until music printing became firmly established with the Italian adoption of single-impression printing methods) was the decoration of a liturgy that could be performed there and nowhere else. Even after the business activities of Gardano and Scotto had secured Venice as the undisputed centre of the music trade and had begun to publish in quantity the works of composers working locally, the composition of music for the Basilica remained a prime charge on the maestri and organists who worked there. The history of the cappella is in this sense intimately related to the changing vision which successive officials responsible for overseeing the ceremonial life of the Basilica had of its role in the articulation and elaboration of the patriarchino.(3)

The earliest phases of the rite are comparatively hard to reconstruct in all their functional aspects, largely because of the absence of ceremoniali from this period, but from the middle of the sixteenth century onwards both the textual details of the patriarchino and its ceremonial specifications are reasonably well documented.(4) By this time the rite had become the exclusive property of the Basilica; this only intensified its political accentuation. From the surviving sources, a now scattered and small group of liturgical books and ceremoniali most of which date from the late sixteenth-century and later, a detailed picture emerges of a usage that differs from the standard Roman one in important ways. The psalms, for example, were drawn from a textual tradition which lay outside the Vulgate, and their arrangement throughout the year differed from Roman practice as in the following examples:

The text of "Beatus Vir" showing textual divergences
between Roman use and that of the Patriarchino
St. Mark's Roman
Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: in mandatis eius cupit nimis. Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: in mandatis eius volet nimis.
In memoria aeterna erit justus: ab auditu malo non timebit. In memoria aeterna erit justus: ab auditione mala non timebit.
Paratum cor ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: non commovebitur donec videat inimicos tuos. Paratum cir ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: non commovebitur donec despiciat inimicos tuos.
(Sources:Psalterium Davidicum, per hebdomadam dispositum ad usum Ecclesiae Ducalis Sancti Marci Venetiarum (Venice, 1609): Breviarum Romanum (Venice, 1562)


Psalm Sequences for Second Vespers, on the Feast of the Dedication of the Church of St. Mark's, showing differences between Roman Use and that of the Patriarchino
St. Mark's Roman
Credidi; Laetatus sum; Nisi Dominus; Confitebor Angelorum; Lauda Jerusalem. Dixit; Confitebor; Beatus vir; Laudate pueri; Lauda Jerusalem.

Such examples could easily be multiplied. The Venetians also had their own calendar,(5) which gave particular prominence to saints with a local significance and also included liturgical elements unique to the rite itself while still retaining the basic outline of the standard Christian festal year. The earliest historical traces of a specifically Venetian calendar date from the eleventh century and by the fourteenth local influences were entirely dominant. This evolution can be traced not only through the few relevant liturgical manuscripts to have survived but also through the decisions of synods; for example, it was a provincial synod held at Grado in 1296 that had first decreed that the feastdays of SS Hermagoras, Fortunatus and Mark (who were associated with Grado, Aquilea and Venice respectively) be commemorated throughout the diocese.(6) Flexibility, the ability of the Venetian calendar to change emphases according to circumstance, remained one of its features throughout its history. To cite just one instance, the feastday of Saint Lorenzo Giustiniani, the first bishop of Venice to bear the title of patriarch, was added to the calendar in 1524 as a result of a concession made by Clement VII; this was in turn merely an early phase of Venetian agitation for Giustiniani's canonisation, a lengthy process which finally reached fruition only in 1727 after more than two centuries of political campaigning.(7) In common with many of the saints who lend the Venetian calendar its distinctive shape and colouring, Giustiniani thus had a precise local association, and the extended struggle to ensure his elevation to sainthood is itself an indication of the political ramifications of his cult.

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