HEN THE FAMOUS hymn “Veni Veni Emmanuel” first appeared in the 1850s, it was claimed that its tune was ancient. However, as time went on, many wondered if the melody had actually been composed in the 19th century. In the 1960s, Mother Thomas More—a student of Nadia Boulanger—discovered that the melody was indeed ancient, going back to the 15th century (or earlier).
Here’s the authentic hymn, which was written for two voices:
You can learn this version (PDF) with the help of these rehearsal videos:
EQUAL VOICES : YouTube • Mp3 Audio
THE TUNE IS QUITE ANCIENT, but in those days it was used during Masses for the Dead. It was a “trope” (poetic extension) for the Responsory Libera Me. As you can see by this 15th century manuscript, it flows beautifully back into the Responsory:
The ancient text was “Bone Jesu dulcis cunctis.”