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Amiens 162 D, ff. 10v-13 »Lugentibus in purgatorio« 3v

Notation: Entered mainly by Hand A on staff system 1. The layout and text hand is exactly the same as in the preceding and the following pieces (Hand A), but a different hand may have entered the music in white mensural notation. The white clefs and custos are different from Hand A’s black notation, the note heads are rounded and a bit sloppy, and the ink colour is lighter than in the text. From the start none of the voices show any mensuration signs, but they appear in superius 2 in the 2nd and 3rd stanzas (ff. 12 and 13), tempus imperfectum diminutum. It is thinkable that Hand A being uncomfortable with white notation had another scribe to write in the music, or he did it himself without the confidence apparent in the pieces in black notation. The initials at the start of each stanza are red, and emphasizing in the text has been done in yellow.

Disposition of parts: “Tenor” is written across the openings below the two upper voices [Superius 1-2]. [Superius 1] stands on the left hand pages, and [superius 2] is at the right, in the position of the contra.

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 2 (PDF) including all settings of “Lugentibus” (also available alone – PDF), and in Christoffersen 1994, Vol. I, p. 323 (Example 2, stanza 1 only).

Text: A widely disseminated prayer for the dead in purgatory, cf. RH nos. 10180-81 and no. 10723; Mone 1853 Vol. I, pp. 400-402; Leroquais 1927, Vol. I, p. 160, and Vol. II, p. 240; AR p. 198*; and VP pp. 239-41. This version consists of three stanzas of four lines, which correspond to stanzas 1-3 in Mone 1853; after the four riming lines the stanzas end with prayers to Jesus, Maria and Saint Peter respectively.

[1] Lugentibus in purgatorio,
qui purgantur ardore nimio
et torquentur sed cum remedio.
Subveniat tua compassio.
O Ihesu rex, miserere eis.

[2] O fons patens qui culpas abluis,
Omnes lavas et nullum respuis.
Manum tuam extende mortuis,
Qui sub penis lugent continuis.
O Maria, ora pro eis.

[3] Ad te pie suspirant mortui,
Cupientes de penis erui,
et adesse tuo conspectui,
Et gaudiis sempiternis perfrui.
Sancte Petre, ora pro eis.


A simple setting of three stanzas with identical music. It is written for two equal voices, range a-b’, and a supporting “Tenor” (c-a) with a lot of exchange between the upper voices. The three stanzas have the same music and are fully written out with one stanza per opening. It does not appear to build on any known tune; however, its simple melodic phrases are clearly related to the other settings of the text (see below). The five verse lines are organized in the form aba’ab’ with the a-lines ending on A in the upper voices and the b-lines on D. Every line ends with a fermata, and the first four lines are subdivided by a fermata on the fourth syllable; the invocations in the fifth line, “O Ihesu rex”, “O Maria”, “Sancte Petre”, are emphasized with fermatas on every syllable.

Visually the setting refers to the old-fashioned motet or a setting of a liturgical tune with the given tune in the tenor written across the opening. In fact, it is very different from this type. The two upper voices make up a self-sufficient structure developed from simple two-part polyphony, note against note without dissonances or parallels except for thirds and sixths, which in every line continues with stock cadential figures including syncopations. The “Tenor” is a supporting voice below the duet, contributing somewhat to the variety of the setting.

In spite of its extremely restricted musical motives great care have been taken to vary the setting. The upper voices exchange places and motives as well as functions as superius and tenor in the cadences. For example, lines 1 and 3 both cadence to A with the tenor taking F (bb. 5 and 15), but in line 3 the upper voices change places on the fermata note in bar 12 making it impossible to rise the third as in bar 3; in line 4 the tenor is varied and takes D below the upper voices’ cadence on A (b. 21). The following stanzas show only a few variants in comparison with the first. In stanza 2 an extra fermata in all voices underscores “omnes”, and superius 1 comes to the cadence without syncopations in bars 19-20.

This setting of “Lugentibus in purgatorio” and most of the related polyphonic settings of the text (see below) do not contain indications that they do belong to the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna” as tropes. However, the setting’s placement in MS Amiens 162 among tropes and verses for “Libera me” leaves no doubt that its function in services, memorial or funeral, was comparable, and in the MS Túbingen 96 the two-voice setting appears as a “Libera me”-trope with a full set of clues for the repeats of the responsory.

Contemporary or older settings of the text:

»Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2v in
Grand-Saint-Bernard, Bibliothèque de l’Hospice, Ms. 7 (2038) ff. 60v-63v “Pro fidelibus deffunctis”, and
Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Mk 96, ff. 55v-57
– A simple setting of four stanzas using two different sets of music for two equal voices; stylistically related to the duet in the upper voices in the Amiens setting. Copied respectively at the Augustinian monastery Grand-Saint-Bernard or in the Aosta Valley during the second half of the 15th century and in a Franciscan institution in Southern Germany in the early 16th century.

Lyon, Bibliothèque de la Ville, ms. 6632 fonds musicales, f. 12 »Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2-3v
– A simple setting for equal voices at a low pitch with many crossings of voices, which is rhythmized with the use of four different note values. Only music for one stanza, which is to be used for five stanzas of text. An added third voice was presumably composed on the page. Copied in Lyons around 1500.

Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik i Handskrift 76a, no. 66, ff. 68v-73
»Kirie eleyson - Langentibus in purgatorio« 2v
– A setting of eight stanzas using two different, alternating settings for nearly equal, low voices. It opens with a “Kirie” in simple two-part polyphony, which probably was meant to be repeated as a ‘refrain’. The alternating settings are in measured white notation, but very close to the style of simple polyphony. Copied at Lyons during the first decade of the 16th century.

PWCH March 2014, revised May 2014