Enn einn „útlenskur tónn'' í Rask 98

  • Árni Heimir Ingólfsson
Keywords: Musicology, singing, polyphony, Rask 98, Melódía, Jacobus Clemens (non Papa)


The manuscript Rask 98, also known as Melódía (in the Arnamagnæan Collection, Copenhagen), was written ca. 1660–70 by an unknown scribe and contains 223 notated songs. The manuscriptʼs heading states that it contains “foreign tunes to Icelandic poetry.” Since none of the songs in Rask 98 carries an attribution, tracing their origins has proved to be an arduous task. In an article published in this journal in 2012, the present author identified models for five “foreign tunes” in Rask 98, extending our knowledge of musical repertoire and transmission in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Iceland. One further piece can now be added to the collection: Jacobus Clemens (non Papa)ʼs four-part song Godt es mijn licht, first published in Leuven in 1567 but in Nuremberg a year later to a text in German, Gott ist mein liecht. Only the latter version repeats the songsʼs last two phrases, a repeat that is also found in Rask 98. Thus the Nuremberg print can be identified as the source for the version in Rask 98. The Icelandic text, Englar og menn og allar skepnur líka senn, is not a translation, but seems to be a free paraphrase of Psalm 148. Rask 98 (and JS 138 8vo, a later manuscript that seems to be a direct copy) contains only Clemensʼs tenor part in a non-rhythmic notation. Like the other polyphonic pieces that were brought to Iceland in the second half of the sixteenth century, Englar og menn was presumably sung in four parts while vocal resources allowed, and its lower parts were still transmitted on their own a century later.