Guilelmus Messaus




Messaus  spent his life in Antwerp. From 1609–10 he was sacristan of St Joris and in 1613 became schoolmaster and sacristan at St Willibrordus. From 1614 to 1618 he taught at St Walburgis and St Andries, but was dismissed for bad behaviour. Before 1620, however, he became a singer and choirmaster at St Walburgis, a post he held until his death. In 1620 he was suspended for a time after refusing to perform a plainchant mass instead of a polyphonic ‘missa de angelis’ for a dead child. 


He wrote at least 14 masses, including the unpublished Missa Victorius Fernandus, which was found in his estate and was also in the library of King João IV of Portugal. In addition, 57 motets (including four canons) and Flemish and Latin carols, and three secular Flemish madrigals by him are known. 

Cantiones natalitiae

Messaus was likely the publisher of Laudes Vespertinae from 1629 (the first bundle of cantiones natalitiæ or christmas songs). He composed at least 9 of the therein included christmas songs. They are mostly simple four part arrangement of traditional christmas songs which date back to the late middle ages, such as Een kindeken is ons gheboren and Het viel eens hemels dauwe.

Choral works (selection)

  • Lof sy dat soete kindeken cleyn.
  • O salich heylich Betlehem.
  • Een kindeken is ons gheboren, for four voices.


O salich heylich Betlehem
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