Piae Cantiones ecclesiasticae et scholasticae veterum episcoporum (in English Devout ecclesiastical and school songs of the old bishops) is a collection of late medieval Latin songs compiled by Jacobus Finno and published in 1582 by Theodoricus Petri Nylandensi, also known as Theodoric Petri of Nyland (ca. 1560- ca. 1630). He came from an aristocratic family in Finland, and was educated at Rostock.
The collection Piae Cantiones was published in Greifswald (Part of Swedish territory 1648-1815, though now in Germany) and includes 74 Latin and Swedish/Latin songs that were sung at the time in Finnish cathedral schools, most notably in the cathedral school of Turku. Most of them are religious in nature but some, for example Tempus adest floridum, are secular school songs. The lyrics in the collection testify of the moderate nature of Reformation in Sweden. Although some Catholic nuances have been purged, many songs still carry strong traces of the cult of Virgin Mary (e.g. Ave Maris Stella). Many songs are still used as Christmas carols, in particular Gaudete, Corde natus, Personent hodie, Puer Nobis Nascitur (Unto us a boy is born) and the spring carol Tempus Adest Floridum, which forms the melody of "Good King Wenceslas".
Although published as late as in 1582, the melodies of Piae Cantiones are medieval by nature. The origin of the songs and melodies varies. Many originate from Central Europe but quite a few seem to have been written in Nordic countries. There is some controversy whether the whole of the collection should be attributed to Sweden or to Finland. At the time of the publication, Finland was part of Sweden. However, the collection was an independent undertaking of the diocese of Turku, the compiler and the publisher being a Finn enjoying the right of indigenate in the diocese. Later versions of this collection were compiled by Finns Henricus Fattbuur and Mathias Tolia. The Finnish translation of Piae Cantiones by Hemming of Masku is considered the first Finnish book of anthems. Thus Piae Cantiones is a product of medieval Catholic culture rather than of a single nation.
The songs of Piae Cantiones were popular in Finnish schools until the 19th century but fell gradually in disuse. However, a newly-awakened interest in this old music has made them quite popular and they belong to the standard repertoire of any Finnish or Swedish choir. Many of Hemming's translations are present (with some modernization) in the official book of anthems of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. In this way, Piae Cantiones still enriches Finnish spiritual life.
In 1910 an edition was published in England by the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, with a preface and notes by George Ratcliffe Woodward.
Piae Cantiones Audio Files
The following links point to the site thisisFINLAND by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The files are Real Audio streams.
- ^ Virtual Finland: Piae Cantiones Retrieved 2/16/2007.