Inspiration for the Three Motets op. 39 was a visit to the romanesque church of Trinità dei Monti. On 20 Dec 1830 Mendelssohn wrote to his parents: "The French nuns sing there, and it is wonderfully lovely. ... Now, one should know one more thing: that one is not allowed to see the singers. Therefore I have come to an unusual decision: I will compose something for their voices, which I rememer exactly..."