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Amiens 162 D, ff. 123v-124 »O miranda dei caritas / Kyrie eleyson« 3v [Anonymous]

Notation: Entered by Hand B in black-white semi-mensural notation on staff system 3, red initials, many fermatas, some of them in a very weak brown colour; the tenor is notated as white breves (some are written as longae) – further on the notation, see below.

Disposition of parts:[Triplum] is on f. 123v, [Duplum] f. 124, [Tenor] is written across the opening with one color on each page. All voices are fully texted.


Bamberg Codex f. 54 “O miranda dei karitas” (Tr) / “Salve mater salutifera” (Du) / “Kyrie” (T) 3v

Las Huelgas Codex f. 94 “Leo, bos et aquila regalis” (Tr) / “Splendidus regis thrunos solaris” (Du) / [without text] (T) 3v

London 27630 f. 51 “Salve mater salutifera” (Du) / [Kyrie] (T) 2v

London 27630 f. 52 “Dum crumena” (Tr) / “Kyrie” (T) 2v

Munich 5539 ff. 75-75v “Salve, mater salutifera” (Du) / [Kyrie] (T) 2v

Munich 5539 ff. 80-80v “O miranda dei caritas” (Tr) 1v

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 12 (PDF); Aubry 1908, Vol. II p. 188 (Bamberg Codex); Göllner 1993, pp. 172-74 (all versions of the two-part motet); Anderson 1971, pp. 89-90 (3v, the voices combined from the two versions in Munich 5539); Anderson 1982, Vol. II p. 18 (Las Huelgas Codex); Anderson & Smith 1977, p. 117 (Bamberg Codex).


(Duplum and Triplum):

O miranda dei caritas
per peccatum cecidit
homo quam concidit
sed eius bonitas.

Relaxavit penas debitas
Adam mundum perdidit
sed vitam reddidit
Christi nativitas.


Kyrie eleyson. Kyrie eleyson.



An old-fashioned motet constructed in a very simple way. The tenor sings twice the Kyrie invocation (Kyrie Pater cuncta, LU p. 48, transposed down a tone) in equal long note values, and the upper voices according with the text’s two stanzas riming abba repeat their music with a small variation in the first line. Their basic consonances in relation to the tenor are fifths and octaves; the many parallels and momentary dissonances on weak beats are characteristic.

The motet appears in several two- and three-part versions. A simple three-part motet in the Bamberg Codex (late 13th century) “O miranda dei karitas / Salve mater salutifera / Kyrie” survives in a quite clear rhythmical notation (cf. RISM B IV, Vol. 1, pp. 56 ff) – one of the few motets not found in the contemporary Montpellier-Codex (Montpellier, Faculté de Médecine, MS H 196, cf. RISM B IV, Vol. 1, pp. 272 ff). In the virtually contemporary manuscript Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. lat. 5539 4°, it appears as a two-part motet (“Salve, mater salutifera / [Kyrie]”) in a more indeterminate rhythmical shape – getting closer to the notation in Amiens 162, only simpler. (1) The Triplum in Munich 5539 with the text “O miranda dei caritas” is a slightly later addition to the MS.

Nothing in the notation of this motet in Amiens 162 suggests modal or Franconian notation. In the Bamberg Codex (and in the somewhat later Las Huelgas Codex with different texts (cf. RISM B IV, Vol. 1 pp. 210 ff)) the motet is clearly in triple time (1st modus). In the Amiens 162 version, the basic unit seems to be syllables of equal rhythmical value (one syllable = punctus in square notation), which then has been expanded into a comprehensible semi-mensural notation by doubling and halving of this value. It is of course possible to interpret the setting in accordance to modal principles, but this produces a too complex reading contradicting the simplicity of the notation. The motet was more than 200 years old when entered in Amiens 162, and the old pattern has been re-interpreted to fit into more recent preferences – including the use of stylized ‘cadential patterns’. Most remarkable is that both upper voices now sing the same text, and that it appears that it was important to sound the syllables of the text simultaneously. This is contrary to the idea of the 13th century motet. It is a re-creation in the spirit of a later period.

Note on the transcription:

Evidently, the tenor’s white breves have to be interpreted as double the rhythmical value of the black square notes in duplum and triplum. These square notes each carries a syllable and have been transcribed as semibrevis-values. Two-note-ligatures also carry one syllable and must accordingly be interpreted as minima-values. The setting’s decorative elements are indicated by black as well as by white notes in the shape of mensural minimae. Probably the black minimae can be interpreted as half as long as the square notes, that is minimae, while the white notes then have the next smaller value, semiminimae. In this way, the repeated formula consisting of two white minimae followed by one black gets to have its longest note as relatively consonant against the tenor. Final notes with fermatas in the upper voices are square notes.

PWCH January 2014

1) Cf. M.L. Göllner 1993 pp. 3 f (“Dating and Provenance”), where she establishes that the original repertory of the MS Munich 5539, which has been regarded as produced in Diessen during the 14th-15th centuries, was copied at the cathedral of Regensburg shortly before 1300, and that only the latest additions and the binding stem from Diessen and the late 15th century.