What is a “motet”? From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
“A short piece of music set to Latin words, and sung instead of, or immediately after, the Offertorium, or as a detached number in extra-liturgical functions. The origin of the name is involved in some obscurity. The most generally accepted derivation is from the Latin motus, “movement”; but the French mot, “word”, or “phrase”, has also been suggested. The Italian mottetto was originally (in the thirteenth century) a profane polyphonic species of music, the air, or melody, being in the tenor clef, taking the then acknowledged place of the canto fermo or plainchant, theme. Philip de Vitry, who died Bishop of Meaux, wrote a work entitled “Ars compositionis de motetis”, the date of which was probably 1320. This volume (now in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale) contains our oldest specimens of sacred motets, and these continued in vogue for over two centuries.” (continue reading at this link).
Introducing Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594) and his “Jesu! Rex Admirabilis”
Videos: the first by a large choir, the second by a small choir (trio)
Introducing Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612) and his “Cantate Domino”
Introducing Orlando di Lasso (1532-1594) and his “Adoremus te Christe”
Introducing Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611) and his “Jesu Dulcis Memoria”
Introducing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and his “Ave Verum”