Nadia Boulanger required her pupils to learn to compose traditional forms, among them the motet. Written under her instruction, Copland's motets make use of biblical texts for an a cappella chorus of mixed voices. He wrote, "I think of these as student pieces that show some influence of Moussorgsky, whom I admired. I agreed to their publication with mixed emotions. while they have a certain curiosity value — perhaps people want to know what I was doing as a student — the style is not yet really mine."
-Vivian Perlis, 1998