About this work
Duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza of Milan assembled for his personal devotions a choir which rivalled any in Italy, including the Papal Choir of the Sistine Chapel. He also encouraged his personal court poets to compose new cycles of devotional lyrics, or Motetti Missales, to be set to music as substitute pieces for the everyday text of the Mass Ordinary. These cycles of motets characteristically included much cutting-edge polyphonic music; each cycle would also contain a single motet -- for the most holy moment of the Elevation of the Host -- with a simpler, more chordal texture, which allows the text to be easily comprehended. Josquin's motet Tu solus, qui facis mirabilia seems intended for such intimate and private devotions.
Throughout the piece, short duets mingle their textures with the clear, chordal homophony. The foregrounded text adresses God intimately and personally, with sets of block chords marked with Coronae (fermatas) on every note highlighting texts such as the opening "You alone" and the name "Jesu Christe." This intimacy is heightened in the second part of the motet, where Josquin quotes (in French!) a popular love song directly: "To love another would be foolishness." Ottaviano Petrucci printed this motet on its own as early as 1503, but it also appears as part of the Missa D'ung Aultre Amer in several sources, suggesting composition in the 1480s, when Josquin had contact with the Milanese court.