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Amiens 162 D, ff. 13v-16 »Quando deus filius virginis« 2v

Notation: Entered by Hand A in square notation on staff system 1. The initials at the start of each stanza are red, and emphasizing in the text has been done in yellow. New custos have been added, probably by Hand B (cf. also »Stabat mater dolorosa«, ff. 30v-35).

Disposition of parts: [Tenor] stands on the left pages, [Contra] at the right.

Edition: Amiens 162 Edition no. 3 (PDF) including a monophonic setting of “Quando deus” (also available alone – PDF).

Text: Trope for the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna”, 3 stanzas of 7 decasyllabic verse lines riming abcdd|ee, formed as 5 lines followed by a two-line invocation beginning “O, O, O”; cf. RH no. 32234; edited in Clemens Blume, Tropen des Missale im Mittelalter, Leipzig 1906 (=AH 49), pp. 383-84, no. 781b. Blume remarks (p. 384) that this text probably was a reworking of the ”Libera me”-trope “Dicet iustis ad dexteram positis” (no. 781a), and that it only began to appear in sources dating from the second half of the 15th century. In Knud Ottosen, The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Aarhus 1993, it is recorded as V 173, V 231 and V 108, pp. 410-415 (all sources dated in the second half of the 15th century or later).

[1] Quando deus, filius virginis,
judicare seculum venerit,
dicet justis ad dextram positis:
Accedite dilecti filii,
vobis regnum dare disposui.
O, O, O, felix vox, felix promissio,
felix dator, et felix datio.

[2] Post hec dicet ad levam positis:
Nescio vos, cultores criminis,
vos decepit gloria seculi?
Descendite ad yma baratri
cum Zabulon et suis angelis.
O, O, O, proth dolor, quanta tristicia,
quantus luctus, quanta suspiria.

[3] Jam festinat rex ad judicium,
dies instat horrenda nimium,
et quis nobis erit refugium,
nisi mater virgo, spes omnium,
que pro nobis exoret filium.
O, O, O, Ihesu rex, exaudi, poscimus,
preces nostras, et salvi erimus.

Libera …


A setting of a trope for the responsory “Libera me” in simple polyphony for two equal voices (ranges c-d’ (tenor) and c-e’ (contra)) with frequent crossings of voices. The three stanzas have the same music and are fully written out with one stanza per opening. The tenor has the pre-existing tune, which can be found in the slightly older MS Grand-Saint-Bernard 7 (cf. below). The counter voice enriches the sound by shadowing the tenor in contrary motion and parallel motion in thirds and sixths. There are no dissonances or parallel perfect concords in the original version. A later user, however, has changed one note in the first stanza (at “seculum venerit” (note 22), a instead of b) and thereby produced parallel fifths! This change does not appear in the two next stanzas. The tune is formed abcdb|a'b with endings on the notes a and d. This layout is followed in the setting as abcdb'|a'b'. In stanzas 2-3 the a- and b-elements end on a fifth-concord, d-a, while the c- and d-elements both end on a concord of a third, f-a. The setting ends (after stanza 3) with an clue for the repeat of the responsory through the musical and textual incipit of “Libera ...” in both voices in unison.

In stanza 1 the music has been carefully organized by drawing of vertical strokes for every word in the text, and the fourth and the last syllable in most lines have been marked with fermatas. This has not been done in the two last stanzas (in the transcription the strokes are shown as ‘ticks’). During the copying of the song the 4th line has been shortened by one note. This caused the line (the d-element) to end on a concord of a fifth instead of a third as in stanzas 2-3. The reason for this probably was that Hand A had written the text too tight in the tenor and could not fit in all the notes – a ligature b-a seems to have been changed into two single notes. Every stanza ends with an invocation starting “O, O, O”, all emphasized by fermatas.

Technically and aesthetically this trope setting is similar to most of the retrospective repertory. The pre-existing tune is dressed in sound by another voice in the same range and mode, alternately above and below it, using consonant intervals and formed with the achievement of the greatest possible volume of sound in mind along with a varied sound. The crucial difference lies in its dominant concords. While thirds in the traditional repertory only appear when passing from unison to fifth (and vice versa), and parallel unisons, fifths and octaves often are met with, parallel thirds and sixths are common here, parallel perfect consonances are absent, and the setting displays a clear compositional intention with a planned musical culmination in the fifth line, just before the “O, O, O”-exclamation. This sort of simple polyphony is made according to old principles but displays sound preferences of a later period. For example, the peak of the development enters on a tenth concord, and (in stanza 2-3) the lines 3-4 end on a third where the older style would prefer a fifth. In these lines the flow is sustained by avoiding the closing effect of the fifth-concord. The sotto voce opening – circling the Dorian fifth during most of the first two lines – is also remarkable. It prepares for a maximum contrast with the great distance between the voices in the following lines, and the stanza gets an overall form ABA', consisting of a low key A-section, the continuous B-section, and ending in an expanded sound space at the repeat of the A-section. The setting must have been new when it was copied into the Amiens MS, since the earliest sources for the poem as well as for the tune originated in the second half of the 15th century.

Monophonic version of the tune:

Grand-Saint-Bernard, Bibliothèque de l’Hospice, Ms. 7 (2038) ff. 73-74v »Quando deus filius virginis« 1v “Pro defunctis”
– Copied at the Augustinian monastery Grand-Saint-Bernard or in the Aosta Valley during the second half of the 15th century.

PWCH March 2014, revised July 2015