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Amiens 162 D, ff. 18v-28 »Juxta corpus spiritus stetit« 3v

Notation: Entered by Hand A in semi-mensural black notation on staff system 1. The initials on ff. 18v-19 are drawn in red, the initials on the following pages are in black ink with yellow decorations, and emphasizing in the text has been done in yellow. There are many erasures and changes in the music.

The notation is basically square notation with square and rhomboid notes (in the transcription interpreted as breves and semibreves). Ligatures must normally be understood as semibreves, but if placed on a stressed rhythmical unit, the first note may be a brevis. The notation is not precise; it can only be performed with an understanding of the song’s underlying rhythmical pattern. See further ‘Notes on the reworked stanzas of »Juxta corpus spiritus stetit«’.

Placement of parts: Each stanza fills out an opening. “Tenor” is written across the openings below the two upper voices. [Superius] stands on the left hand pages, and “Contra” is at the right.

Edition: Amiens 162 Edition no. 5 (PDF) including a different setting of the tune (also available alone – PDF).

Text: Tropes/verses for the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna”; 10 stanzas of four verses riming aabb; each verse is divided by a caesura after seven syllables – the first half-verse is in some cases riming with first half of the next verse. The second halves of the verses are freer formed with 6-8 syllables.

The opening lines quote the widely circulated dialogue from the 12th century, Visio Philiberti or Disputatio inter corpus et animam, which was used and reworked even in the 16th century, also in the vernacular. Here the soul and the deceased body quarrel about the responsibility for a wasted life. The soul cannot disclaim all blame, but both of them decline the main responsibility. The poem ends when two demons take the soul to the torments of the damned. The verses in Visio Philiberti, which introduce the original lament of the soul, say: “juxta corpus spiritus stetit et ploravit / et hiis verbis acriter carnem increpavit.” (1)

The poem in Amiens 162 mentions many saints. Among them are three Dominicans: Petrus Martyr (dead 1252, canonized 1253), Thomas de Aquinas (dead 1274, canonized 1323), and Katherina de Siena (dead 1380, canonized 1461). This version of the poem must be dated after the canonization of Katherina de Siena in 1461. The MS does not have any indications that this text was used as tropes for “Libera me”, a shorter version of the poem, however, in MS Grand-Saint-Bernard 6 contains careful clues for its inclusion in “Libera me” (see below).

[1] Juxta corpus spiritus / stetit et ploravit,
Et hiis verbis dulcibus / Christum invocavit:
O Christe dulcissime, / tu me recreasti,
Tam bene quam prospere / tu me redemisti.

[2] O beata genitrix, / virgo atque mater,
Advocata istius / modo sis et semper,
O virgo piissima, / hic te imploravit
Hunc cerne mente pia / in hac die migravit.

[3] Archangele Michael, / custos animarum,
Paranimphus Gabriel, / dator animarum, (1)
Angeli, archangeli, / hunc omnes suscipite,
Ordines spirituum / hunc deo presentate.

[4] Pater Abraham fidei / angelo credidisti,
Johannes, cursor Christi, / baptista extitisti,
Prophete, patriarche / omnesque supplicate
Pro isto in gloria / deum exorate.

[5] Vos qui estes iudices, / seculi apostoli,
Petre, Paule socii, / adiuvate omnes isti,
Nunc modo celeriter / prece apostolorum
Sedeat feliciter / in gloria sanctorum.

[6] Prothomartir Stephane / qui deum exorasti,
O sancte martir Petre / qui mundum superasti,
Orate nunc iugiter / cum cunctis martiribus
Quiescat feliciter / vestris sanctis precibus.

[7] Confessor N / hereticos confutasti.
Et tu Thoma inclite / ignorantes docuisti,
Omnesque confessores / pro isto exorate
Demonum ut furores / evitet vestra prece.

[8] Anna, mater virginis / pure sanctitatis,
Katherina de Senis, / splendor puritatis,
Virgines illustrate, / ipsum presentate
Tam munde quam nitide / sponso Christo date.

[9] Omnes sancti et sancte, / deo supplicate,
In celo suscipite / istum presentate
Pro isto vestras preces / simulque nos gementes
Orate assistentes / hunc deo adherentes.

[10] Jhesu Christe, audi nos, / Christe, exaudi nos,
Kyrie eleyson, / Christe eleyson, (2)
Kyrie eleyson, / Christe eleyson,
Kyrie eleyson, / Christe eleyson.

1) Stanza 3, line 2, Grand-Saint-Bernhard 6 as well as Tübingen 96 have “...dator gratiarum”, which must be the correct version.
2) Stanza 10, line 2 should probably like the music repeat line 1.


A three-part setting of ten tropes/verses for “Libera me”, which uses the same music for all the stanzas with great variability in musical details. The tune in the tenor can be found in a contemporary two-part setting, which has been preserved in two different versions in the MSS Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Mk 96, ff. 13v-16v + 10, and Grand-Saint-Bernard, Bibl. de l’Hospice, Ms. 6 pp. 208-23 respectively (see below). The three-part musical structure, which can be studied in its original shape in stanza 7, is a late development of simple polyphony, cf. the use of only two note values, long and short, the restricted ranges of the voices, and the layout of the pages with the tenor written across the bottom of the openings. The superius is a counter voice to the tenor tune moving within a fifth (c’-g’) in contrary and parallel motion. The “Contra” completes the sound in the same range as the “Tenor” (c-d’) often taking the fourth below the superius – the bars 21-24 like all the cadences achieve the sound of pure faulxbourdon. In the stanzas (1-3 and 10), where it exchanges notes with the tenor in bars 25-26, its range becomes restricted to a sixth (f-d’). Formally the setting follows the layout of the tenor tune: A (a-b), A (a-b), B (c-a’), A’ (a’’-b) with cadences every fourth bar.

This simple setting has been varied in two or more stages in order to fit the music to the varying number of syllables and the changing word formations of the text. But apparently it has been just as important to create some variation in sound during a lengthy performance of its many stanzas – and this is very interesting. This desire for variation has moreover disguised the outline of the tenor tune, which only appears in its original shape in stanzas 4-9 because of the interchange of notes in tenor and contra. Some of the variations in the music were made during the copying (by Hand A) or simply taken over from the exemplar, but a greater part is the result of using the music for performance and then changing unsatisfactory details by erasure and rewriting. We can follow the process on the pages of Amiens 162. The result of these many changes is that the notation of the stanzas probably has become difficult to understand for users outside the circle where the changes were made. An intimate knowledge of the basic rhythmical and harmonic pattern of the setting was needed to make the notation adequate for its intended use. For a discussion of these variations, see the supplementary discussion ‘Notes on the reworke) stanzas of »Juxta corpus spiritus stetit«’ and the table of ‘Changes in the music of »Juxta  ...’.

A different setting of the tune:

»Justa corpus spiritus stetit et ploravit« 2v in
Grand-Saint-Bernhard, Bibliothèque de l’Hospice Ms. 6 (1983) pp. 208-223, and
Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Mk 96, ff. 13v-16v + 10
- This two-part setting exists in two different versions: 1) a very regular one in MS Tübingen 96 that represents the same textual and melodic tradition as the three-part setting in MS Amiens 162, in five stanzas with the exactly same music; and 2) an adapted version of eight stanzas in Grand-Saint-Bernard 6 with clues for the repeats of the responsory; it here appears along with an (presumably) alternative set of two-part prose verses for “Libera me” in unmeasured polyphony.

PWCH May 2014

1) Cf. Lexikon des Mittelalters I-IX. München 1980-98, Bd. VIII, Sp. 1733, Art. ‘Visio Philibert’, and ibid. Sp. 235 ff, Art. ‘Streitgedicht’. The poem is quoted after Corpus of Electronic Texts Edition.