I am trying to translate a Latin title, reproduced below:

Missæ tres Petro Certon pueris simphoniacis sancti sacelli Parisiensis auctore, nunc primúm in lucem ædit[a]e, cum quatuor vocibus, ad imitationem modulorum. Lutetiae

Here is my attempted translation of which I'm unsure:

Three masses by Pierre Certon,for the boys choir of the holy shrine of Paris, newly published, in four voices, imitating (something)

A Google books bibliographical entry is available here. Any help would be very much appreciated.

  • What is the book about? Any description might help parse the title.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jun 16, 2017 at 16:21
  • Three masses by Pierre Certon,for the boys choir of the holy shrine of Paris, newly published, in four voices, imitating (something) Jun 16, 2017 at 16:39
  • The chap is Pierre Certon Jun 16, 2017 at 16:40
  • @Ceruusdemens I'm confused: you just answered your own question.
    – brianpck
    Jun 16, 2017 at 16:40
  • I'm sorry,I'm pretty much a newcomer to Latin and writing it down sometimes helps to answer my own question. Do you think my understanding of the phrase is correct? Jun 16, 2017 at 16:44

1 Answer 1


The translation is fairly straightforward. Here is a literal rendering:

Three Masses, with Pierre Certon as author, for the choristers of the Sainte-Chapelle of Paris, now published for the first time, in four voices, in imitation of the melodies X.

Lutetia (Locative: Lutetiae) is simply the old Roman name for Paris, and indicates the city where it was published.

Some notes:

  • A missa in this context is a setting of the ordinary of the Mass: the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo (sometimes), Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.
  • A sacellum (diminutive of sacrum) is a "little sanctuary." In this context, and based on the biography of Pierre Certon, this certainly refers to the Sainte-Chapelle.
  • symphoniacus ("y" changed to "i", as common in later Latin) is an adjective for a concert. Combined with puer, it refers to a boys choir.
  • I was stuck with "ad imitationem modulorum" until I realized that something is surely being left out. As you can see in this bibliography for Pierre Certon, "modulorum" (or "moduli," if only one) should be followed the names of the melodies that are being imitated. It was quite common in Renaissance music to use a folk song as a point of departure for the mass's themes.
  • 1
    I think you've got it exactly right. Such masses are commonly known as 'parody masses' -- or, as the term that's used here suggests, 'imitation masses'.
    – cnread
    Jun 16, 2017 at 22:46
  • @cnread Interesting: they were still sung at actual ceremonies though, right? I once sang a Lassus mass of this kind.
    – brianpck
    Jun 17, 2017 at 15:16

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