Echoes of the Past: The Top 20 Most Famous Songs of the Medieval Period

The medieval period, spanning from the 5th to the 15th century, was a time of rich musical traditions and enchanting melodies.

From the soaring chants of the Gregorian era to the lively troubadour songs, music played a vital role in medieval society.

Join us as we explore the top 20 most famous songs of the medieval period, each one offering a glimpse into the musical heritage and cultural tapestry of the time.

Veni Creator Spiritus

A Gregorian chant dating back to the 9th century, this hymn invokes the Holy Spirit and is still sung in religious ceremonies today.

“Medieval music serves as a sonic time capsule, transporting us back to a world where melodies and rhythms shaped the tapestry of daily life. It reflects the intricate interplay between religious devotion, courtly love, and the celebrations of common folk, offering a glimpse into the soul of medieval society.”

Dr. Emily Richards, Music Historian

Sumer Is Icumen In

An English rota (round) from the 13th century, it celebrates the arrival of summer with its lively and catchy melody.

O Fortuna Part of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana

this 13th-century Latin poem turned choral masterpiece captivates listeners with its powerful and dramatic composition.

La Folia 

Originating in the late medieval period, this popular European dance tune has been adapted and reimagined by countless composers throughout the centuries.

Lamento di Tristano

An Italian song from the 14th century, it recounts the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde and became a source of inspiration for later composers.

“The beauty of medieval music lies in its ability to transcend the boundaries of time. Its haunting chants, lively dances, and intricate polyphony not only entertained and uplifted the spirits of the medieval populace but also laid the foundation for the development of Western musical traditions. It is a testament to the enduring power of human creativity and expression.”

Professor William Anderson, Musicologist

Gaudeamus Igitur

A lively and jovial Latin song from the 13th century, often associated with celebrations and student life.

Dies Irae

A haunting Latin hymn from the 13th century, depicting the Day of Judgment and commonly used in requiem masses.

Douce Dame Jolie

A charming French chanson by Guillaume de Machaut, showcasing courtly love themes and his exquisite musical craftsmanship.


A lively and rhythmic instrumental dance from the 13th to the 14th century, often played on wind or string instruments.

Ave Maria… Virgo Serena

A sublime motet composed by Josquin des Prez, considered one of the greatest Renaissance composers, blending heavenly melodies and harmonies.

Cuncti Simus Concanentes

A joyful and polyphonic 13th-century English song, typically performed in a round.


An enduring English folk song from the 16th century, capturing the essence of love and longing with its melancholic melody.

Lauda Novella

A lively Italian lauda (sacred song) from the 14th century, expressing devotion and praise.


A spirited Italian dance tune from the 14th century, characterized by its energetic tempo and rhythmic patterns.

Ave Maris Stella

A Latin hymn from the 9th century, paying homage to the Virgin Mary and her role as the Star of the Sea.


Popular French dance song from the 16th century, known for its infectious rhythm and catchy melody.

Adieu, Sweet Amarillis

An enchanting English madrigal by John Wilbye, capturing the beauty and bittersweet sentiment of farewell.

Viderunt Omnes

A mesmerizing organum composed by Perotin in the late 12th century, showcasing the complex polyphonic style of the Notre Dame School.

Quant Je Suis Mis au Retour

A lively and humorous French chanson by Jehan Lescurel, depicting the trials and tribulations of love.

L’homme Armé

A popular melody used as the basis for numerous compositions during the Renaissance, conveying themes of chivalry and warfare.

Closing paragraph

These 20 remarkable songs encompass the diversity and beauty of medieval music, taking us on a captivating journey through time.

Each melody carries with it stories of devotion, courtly love, celebration, and introspection, providing a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the people of the medieval period.

As we listen to these timeless compositions, we connect with a rich cultural heritage and appreciate the enduring power of music to transcend time and touch our souls.

Medieval Music | Great Books

“Music in the Medieval World” by Albert Seay
This classic work provides an in-depth exploration of medieval music, covering topics such as liturgical chant, secular song, and polyphony, offering a comprehensive understanding of musical practices during the period.

“The Notation of Medieval Music” by David Hiley
Hiley’s book delves into the fascinating world of medieval musical notation, discussing its development, intricacies, and significance in interpreting and performing medieval music.

“Music and Performance in the Later Middle Ages” by Timothy J. McGee
This book examines the role of music in medieval society, discussing its connections with liturgy, courtly culture, and popular entertainment, shedding light on the diverse contexts of musical performance.

“The Cambridge History of Medieval Music” edited by Mark Everist
This comprehensive volume brings together leading scholars to provide a detailed overview of medieval music, covering topics ranging from chant and polyphony to musical instruments and notation.

“Secular Medieval Music: Sources and Interpretation” by Elizabeth Aubrey
Aubrey’s book focuses on secular music of the Middle Ages, exploring a wide range of sources, genres, and cultural contexts, and providing valuable insights into the richness and diversity of medieval musical expression.

These books offer valuable resources for those interested in delving into the world of medieval music, providing historical context, analysis, and interpretations of the music of the time.