Charles-Amador Martin

Charles-Amador Martin. Priest, musician, b Quebec City 7 Mar 1648, d Ste-Foy, near Quebec City, 19 Jun 1711. He was the son of Abraham Martin (whose name is perpetuated in the Plains of Abraham), was a pupil of Martin Boutet at the Jesuit College, and studied theology at the Séminaire de Québec.

Martin, Charles-Amador

Charles-Amador Martin. Priest, musician, b Quebec City 7 Mar 1648, d Ste-Foy, near Quebec City, 19 Jun 1711. He was the son of Abraham Martin (whose name is perpetuated in the Plains of Abraham), was a pupil of Martin Boutet at the Jesuit College, and studied theology at the Séminaire de Québec. The second Canadian-born priest, he was ordained in 1671 and served as curé in a number of parishes near Quebec City, his longest term, 1698-1711, being that at Notre-Dame-de-Sainte-Foy. He was also a teacher and administrator (ca 1680) at the Séminaire de Québec and a canon 1684-97 and (according to Amtmann) grand chantre after 1698 at the Quebec Cathedral. As early as 1662 the Jesuit Relations mention 'Amador' as a church singer.

About 20 years after Martin's death, Mother Marie-Andrée Regnard Duplessis de Ste-Hélène (1687-1760), the chronicler of the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec, reported that Martin, 'a capable singer, composed the chant of the Mass and the Office of the Holy Family in its present form.' Later historians, including Ernest Gagnon and Auguste-H. Gosselin, accepted only that Martin wrote the music for the Prose of the Office, but Eugène Lapierre even assigned a date, 1670, to the composition ('Canada, Musique,' Encyclopédie Grolier, Montreal 1947). The Prose 'Sacrae familiae felix spectaculum' survives in a number of 18th-century manuscripts and was printed first in Le Graduel romain in 1800. It was chanted at the Quebec cathedral on the Holy Family feast day until the 1950s. Was Martin really the composer of the Prose, and is the latter Canada's oldest preserved composition? Although the Holy Family celebration goes back to 1665, the date 1670 cannot be accepted, since the final text of the Office was written much later and was used for the first time in 1703. This text was commissioned from a French poet, the Abbé Simon Gourdan, and (according to Amtmann, who has examined the problem in great detail) it is possible that the music too was written in France and that Martin's 'composition' was merely an assembling of the different musical components for the celebration. Comparison of an early manuscript with Martin's known handwriting has not settled the matter. Printed versions of 1800 and 1843 are reproduced and commented on in CMH vol 2.


Further Reading

  • Marie-Andrée Regnard Duplessis, mère de Ste-Hélène. [De la dévotion à la Sainte-Famille], manuscript, ca 1730

    Gagnon, Ernest. Louis Jolliet (Quebec City, 3rd edn 1926)

    Amtmann Music in Canada

    DCB, vol 2