The Cancioneiro Musical de Belém (English: Belém Musical Songbook) or simply Cancioneiro de Belém (Santa Maria de Belém, Lisbon, National Archaeology Museum, Ms 3391) is a Portuguese Renaissance manuscript from the beginning of the 17th century.

Title page

General description


This little manuscript with just 18 songs was found in the archives of the National Archaeology Museum, in Belém (Lisbon), by the end of the 1960s by professors Arthur Lee-Francis Askins and Jack Sage, specialists in Iberian lyric of the 16th century. It was later studied by Manuel Morais, who published in 1988 a critical edition of the cancioneiro, together with a musical transcription to modern notation of all eighteen songs.

Currently with 77 folios sized 191 x 130 mm, the songs proper are found between folios 58v and 74. In recent times (possibly in the 19th century) the manuscript received a brown leather cover, to which side a title was added: Manuscriptos / Varios.

Inside the songbook, an inscription reads Porto, dia de S. Miguel, 603. (Porto, St. Michael's Day,i.e., 29 September 1603). In spite of that, the music therein is considerably older, being dated as belonging to the period between 1560-1580. This songbook contains the only Portuguese manuscript madrigals known to date, besides vilancetes, cantigas and two rare examples of sacred villancicos, one for Christmas (Pues a Dios humano vemos) and the other for the feast of Corpus Christi (O manjar bivo, dulçe i provechoso).

A few songs are also found in other manuscript sources, as for instance the Cancioneiro de Elvas, and in printed Spanish editions of the 16th century, but the majority of the works are unica, that is, found exclusively in this manuscript.

Among the poets that have been identified are Dom Manuel de Portugal (1516-1606) and the poet-composer Jorge de Montemor (c.1520-1561), as well as the Castilians Garcilaso de la Vega (1503-1536) and the little-known poet Cetina "the Nun".

List of works

The villancico Pues a Dios humano vemos
Folio(s) Title Composer Text Language Concordance Recordings
  1. 58v-59 Pues a Dios humano vemos Anonymous Spanish SEG
  2. 59v-60 Ay de mim sin ventura Anonymous Cetina "the Nun" Spanish SEG
  3. 60v-63 Baxad, Señora los ojos Anonymous Spanish SEG
  4. 63v-64 [Oh] Dulçe suspiro mio Anonymous Spanish SEG
  5. 65 Venid a suspirar al verde prado Anonymous Spanish CME STU, SEG, UFF, BAL
  6. 65v-66 Desperança vos vestistes Anonymous Portuguese SEG
  7. 66v Dame [a]cogida en tu hato Anonymous Spanish DAZ, ODA SEG
  8. 67 Oy[u]elos graçiosos Anonymous Spanish CME SEG
  9. 67v Mira que negro amor y que nonada Anonymous Spanish CME SEG
10. 68 Aquella voluntad que se ha rendido Anonymous Manuel de Portugal Spanish CME SEG, UFF
11. 68v Sabete Gil que me muero Anonymous Spanish SEG
12. 69 En la peña, yunto la peña Anonymous Antonio de Villegas Spanish SEG
13. 69v-70 Qu[i]en te hizo Yuan pastor Anonymous Spanish DAZ SEG
14. 70v-71 Tierras mias ado nasci Anonymous Spanish CML SEG
15. 71v O manjar bivo, dulçe i provechoso Anonymous Spanish SEG
16. 72 De mi ventura quexoso Anonymous Spanish SEG
17. 72v-73 O mas dura que marmor a mis quexas Anonymous Garcilaso de la Vega Spanish SEG
18. 73v-74 Flerida en cuja mano Jorge de Montemor Jorge de Montemor Spanish SEG

Concordance with other manuscripts:


  • 1964 - [STU] Frühe spanische Musik im "Goldenen Zeitalter". Studio der frühen Musik. Telefunken "Das Alte Werk" AWT 8039 (EP).
  • 1988 - [SEG] Portuguese Mannerist Music - Cancioneiro Musical de Belém. Segréis de Lisboa. Movieplay.
  • 1998 - [UFF] Música no tempo das Caravelas. Música Antiga da UFF.
  • 2005 - [BAL] Love and Devotion - Iberian Music from the 13th to the 16th centuries. Il Dolce Ballo. Independent.


  • ASKINS, Arthur (1976). The Musical Songbook of the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia e Etnologia, Lisbon. (ca. 1603). Wisconsin: Luso-Brazilian Review Vol. 13, No. 2. p. 129.
  • MORAIS, Manuel (1988). Cancioneiro Musical de Belém: Portuguese Mannerist Music, Introductory Study and Transcription. Imprensa Nacional - Casa da Moeda. p. 144. ISBN 978-972-27-0033-7.