Jean Titelouze:
Conditor alme siderum

Priest, composer, and organist Jean Titelouze (c. 1563–1633) is credited with being a (perhaps the) founder of the French organ school, an approach to composition which continued to influence composers into the 20th century (e.g., Louis Vierne, Maurice Duruflé, Marie-Claire Alain, Olivier Messiaen, and others).

In 1588 Titelouze became organist at Rouen Cathedral, where he supervised the rebuilding of the organ. In the early 17th century, Rouen’s organ was regarded as the greatest in France (which was really saying something), establishing a standard both for instruments and the compositional possibilities they presented.

In 1623, Titelouze published Hymnes de l’Eglise, a collection of musical explorations of a number of plainchant tunes that could be used within the liturgy. One of those melodies was the hymn Conditor alme siderum, familiar to our parish as the Advent hymn, “Creator of the stars of night.”

Titelouze’s setting of this hymn is played here by Martin Lücker on the organ of the Marienmünster Abbey, which was built by Johann Patroclus Möller (1698-1772).