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David Heyes

Robert Wylkynson: Jesus Autem Transiens for 13 double basses (arranged by David Heyes)

Robert Wylkynson: Jesus Autem Transiens for 13 double basses (arranged by David Heyes)

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About the Composition

The name of Robert Wylkynson (c.1450-c.1515) is practically unknown today, apart from in church music circles, and he was a Lay Clerk at Eton Chapel and several of his choral works exist in manuscripts in Eton College Library.

'Jesus Autem Transiens' is a magnificent and monumental 13-part canon and is a setting of the Apostles' Creed, prefixed by the words 'Jesus autem transiens'. A part is assigned to Jesus and each apostle, and their name is attached at the beginning of that part of the Creed which each is traditionally said to have written.

This is a most glorious work that transcribes easily for 13 double basses and, to make it more accessible, everyone plays from the same score and, as in all canons, the first bassist begins unaccompanied and when they reach line two, bass two starts at the beginning, ending with bass 13 playing the nine-note plainsong of line one unaccompanied.


This edition includes three versions of the piece:

1) Everyone plays Version A - in the same register.

2) Some players play Version A, and several players (possibly basses 4, 8, and 12) play version B, which is an octave lower, to give the work a greater depth of color and texture.

3) Version 3 is aimed at the intermediate bass ensemble, and everyone plays the same music and in the same register.

About the Composer

Robert Wylkynson [Wilkinson] (c.1450-1515?) was at Eton Chapel from 1496 to 1515, first as parish clerk and then from 1500 as master of the choristers. His nine-part Salve Regina and his Apostles' Creed (Jesus Autems Transiens) for 13 voices are the last entries in the manuscript and possibly were copied by him. Wylkynson's work has suffered severe losses, for only three of his eight works survive complete, but what remains shows Wylkynson to have been an extremely ambitious composer and a more than competent one.

All that remains of his work is an early 16th-century manuscript in the Eton College Library. The index shows that it originally contained 97 compositions, and of the 43

which remain 4 are by Wylkynson.

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