Een devoot ende profitelyck boecxken (A small devout and profitable book) is a collection ofsongs Catholicconventional the xv th and xvi th centuries, printed by Symon Cock inAntwerpin1539 1 . This collection was to compete with the ” indecentprofane songs” ( “ontamelike, weerlike liedekens” ) 2 .


Sources songs Dutch homophones , which usually have no musical notation , it is the oldest book printed almost entirely devoted to the repertoire of Dutch spiritual songs feature melodies 1. It should be noted that this is not the first collection of Dutch songs with musical notation; thus, the Gruuthuse manuscript (circa 1400 ) contains melodies specially designed for the songs and noted by small vertical lines on a range of four or five lines3 .

The boecxken contains 259 songs 2 . Some songs in this collection were already known from an older work, Een suverlijc boexken (from 1508 ). Apart from many spiritual songs of the Middle Ages 1 and many spiritualized secular songs 2 , the book contains a large number of Leysen (especially Christmas carols ) 1 as well as Marian songs , songs of the loving soul 2 , songs in honor of various saints 1 and seven old Latin hymns 2 . Many songs were produced by rhetoricians 1 or belong to the sphere of modern devotion 4 . Wieder claims to have found in the collection, apart from four songs tinged with the spirit of the Reformed , seven others who manifest an undoubtedly reformed trend, four of which are inserted in the oldest collection of songs Reformed Dutch that we know: the Veelderhande liedekens of 1556 . The other songs already existed before the Reformation or they are sorted by Wieder, according qualifications ranging from “unequivocal Catholic” to “featureless particularly Catholic and Reformed 5.

We do not know the compiler of the boecxken but, as he got the approval of Mathias Wensen, who was generalis commissarius “of all the minor brothers on this side of the Alps, ” he may have been a Franciscan or someone who was attending Franciscan circles. As for notation, it is taken from the square notation of Gregorian chant 6 . It does not seem exaggerated to assume that the melodies, which for the most part have a secular origin , have been spiritualized by removing their rhythmic characteristics., so as to resemble more Gregorian chant 7 . The collection is, moreover, an important source for the knowledge of the melodies on which were sung the profane songs known by textual sources.

While the way in which melodies must be interpreted is still controversial 1 , especially since the notation contains numerous inaccuracies, especially as regards the placement of the keys on the scope 6 , the collection still gives a good idea of ​​the literary taste of the first half of the xvi th century 1 .


No more than two copies of the first impression have survived. However, in the face of the Souterliedekens , who, although having received the approval of the ecclesiastical authorities, were adopted by the Protestants , this collection represents the old faith , which is well illustrated by the fact that the inquisitors Mathias Wensen, mentioned above. above, and Petrus Titelmann the piles qualifiaient and useful 2 .

We know another printing of this book, published in Ghent in 1576 , this time without the melodies 8 . The first modern edition, due to the care of Daniel François Scheurleer, was published in 1889 according to the original edition of 1539 2 . This edition is available online on the website of the Digital Library of Dutch Letters (for a link to the relevant page: see “Sources” or “External link”).