Claude Le Jeune and Theodore de Bèze: A first encounter in the <i>Dix Pseaumes ... en forme de Motets</i> of 1564


In this article Claude Le Jeune’s Dix Pseaumes is investigated, with special attention to its historical context. The Dix Pseaumes came into existence during the initial phase of the Frenchwars of religion, between the Edict of Ambois on 19 March 1563 and its publication in 1564,with Le Jeune as its composer and Theodore de Bèze wrote the texts. De Bèze’s influence in forming the French Protestant’s view on armed resistance makes his connection to the Dix Pseaumes very interesting. It is argued that the non-sequential order of the psalms in this work cannot be accepted as unintentional, but relates directly to the political situation of that time. The texts were evidently chosen to mirror a well-defined consciousness of the French Protestants’ particular existential situation. This is worked out in detail with respect to theopening psalm (Psalm 96), but can be detected in all the other psalms as well. The closing psalm (Psalm 81) ends with an upbraiding of the people’s unkindness in refusing the yoke of God’s law. Thus the obstinate disobedience of the people is blamed for the sad state of affairs in the country. This sorrowful note is echoed in the chanson spirituelle, Mais qui es-tu, which closes Le Jeune’s collection.

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