Music and Meditation: Songs in Johannes Mauburnus's Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Church History and Religious Culture, Volume 88, Issue 3, p.347-370 (2008)



iubilatio, Johannes Mauburnus, Meditation, mysticism, Religious song


 The Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum of Johannes Mauburnus 
is considered the most extensive and influential treatise on meditation in the circles of the 
late Devotio Moderna. It was printed in five editions from the late fifteenth to the early 
seventeenth century. Besides instructions for numerous meditations of varying length, this 
treatise contains seven religious songs which were intended to stir up the emotions and 
facilitate the correct disposition for meditation. These songs were created as contrafacts, 
meaning that the newly composed texts were sung to well-known melodies of liturgical 
hymns and religious songs. In song rubrics, Mauburnus gives precise instructions about 
their function as an aid to summoning the motivation for the great number of spiritual 
exercises that had to be accomplished by the adherents of the Devotio Moderna every day. 
    A unique feature of the  Rosetum is the combination of a concrete meditation with a 
corresponding written song. These songs have not yet been examined systematically. The 
texts were edited by Guido Maria Dreves in Analecta hymnica  on the basis of the edition 
printed in Paris in 1510. The melodies have not yet been reconstructed. In this article, the 
seven contrafacts are studied for the first time from the point of view of their structure and 
function, and their melodies are reconstructed on the basis of liturgical sources associated 
with the Devotio Moderna.