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Amiens 162 D, ff. 41v-42 »Sospitati dedit egros« 2v

Notation: Entered by Hand B in square notation on staff system 3, decorated initials in red and black, red capitals at the start of each line of text. Across the opening above the music is written the responsory text, which comes before the trope, and below the music are the two last words of the responsory.

Disposition of parts: [Tenor] on the left page, the counter voice [Contra] at the right; The scribe could not press the last notes of both voices into the lowest staves, so he had to add two very small staves at the bottom of each page.

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 10 (PDF); Hofmann-Brandt 1971, vol. I, p. 127.

Text: Trope for the responsory “Ex eius tumba” for St Nicolaus (December 6); also found as a hymn or sequence for St Nicolaus, cf. RH no. 19244 and Mone 1853, vol. III, p. 464.

(Above the music) “Ex eius tumba marmorea sacrum resudat oleum quo liniti sanantur ceci surdis auditus redditur et debilis quisque”

Sospitati dedit egros olei perfusio,
Nicolaus naufragantum affuit presidio,
Revelavit a defunctis defunctum in bivio,
Baptizatur auri viso iudeus indicio,
Vas in mari mersum patri redditur con filio,
O quam probat sanctum dei faris augmentacio,
Ergo laudes Nicolao concinat hec concio,
Nam qui corde poscit illum propulsato vicio.

(Below the music) “Sospes regreditur.”


Setting of a responsory trope in unmeasured simple polyphony for two equal voices, which often cross each other and use progressions in parallel thirds, fourths, fifths and octaves. The tenor tune can be found in many sources, cf. Hofmann-Brandt 1971, vol. II pp. 126-127, and, for example, AS pp. 359-360 or Stenzl 1972, Facsimile 47. The double versicles (AABBCCDD) are varied by the counter voice in the two first pairs (AA’, BB’), the remainder (CCDD) are repeats.

The office of the very popular saint Nicolaus, to which the responsory “Ex eius tumba” belongs, seems to have been created by Reginold, bishop of Eichstätt, in the 10th century. The next to the last word of the responsory “sospes” carried a melisma, which soon was underlaid with a short textual trope. The melisma was then in France in the 11th century replaced by a new tune and text “Sospitati dedit egros”, which obtained international circulation. Its very regular organization in double versicles of 15 syllables using the fixed rime “-io” in each line became a paradigm for many other tropes, especially to St Catherine of Alexandria, but its pattern was also frequently used when songs were needed for new saints – and in different liturgical situations too, for example, as “Benedicamus”-tropes. (1) The tune was set in polyphony during the 15th century. The setting in Amiens 162 appears to be singular in its retrospective sound and technique. Others, even provincial settings, were more up-to-date in style. There are, for example, several three-part settings in the manuscript Cambridge, Magdalen College, MS Pepys 1236 (1465-75), among them one by Walter Frye. (2)

PWCH February 2014

1) See further Helma Hofmann-Brandt, Die Tropen zu den Responsorien des Officiums 1-2. (Dissertation, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) 1971, vol. I, pp. 24-25, 38-39 and 111-116.

2) Cf. ibid. pp. 126-29, F.L. Harrison, Music in Medieval Britain. London 1958, pp. 395-97, and Reinhard Strohm, The Rise of European Music 1380-1500. Cambridge 1993, pp. 385-386.