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»Justa corpus spiritus stetit et ploravit« 2v · Anonymous


Grand-Saint-Bernhard, Bibliothèque de l’Hospice, Ms. 6 (1983) pp. 208-223 »Justa corpus spiritus stetit et ploravit« 2v PDF · Facsimile (212-227)

This paper manuscript is a sequentiary/lectionary written around 1500 with later additions at the Augustinian monastery Grand-Saint-Bernard or in the Aosta Valley (cf. Stenzl 1972, pp. 149-151 + Abb. 76-77 and RISM BIV/3 pp. 120-121). “Justa corpus” stands between a large section of sequences (pp. 1-206) and the concluding collection of lessons for three voices (cf. Göllner 1969). The eight stanzas are written in black mensural notation using the values brevis, semibrevis, minima, and c.o.p. ligatures; the prose verses succeeding the eight stanzas (pp. 218-219 ff) are in square chant notation. The tenor voice, which carries the tune, stands on the openings’ left hand pages. Each stanza is provided with textual and musical clues for the repeats of the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna”. In the instances where text and music are not exactly placed, vertical strokes take care of the co-ordination.

Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Mk 96, ff. 13v-16v + 10 »Justa corpus spiritus stetit et ploravit« 2v PDF · Facsimile

The source is a composite paper manuscript from the first half of the 16th century. It consists of two independent liturgical books, 1) ff. 1-38v, Lamentationes Jeremiae, containing mostly lessons for three voices (ff. 31v-32v, In festo sancti Francisci da Paula (1416-1507, canonized 1521)), and 2) ff. 39-62v, Sequitur prosa beata Maria. Both sections may be of Franciscan provenance (cf. Brinkhus 2001, p. 292). “Justa corpus” is placed in the first section in similar surroundings as in Great-Saint-Bernard 6, just before a section containing three-part lessons. It is written in black, semi-mensural notation. The voices stand side by side on the openings with the tenor standing on the left hand page; an unequivocal connection between text and music is ensured by small strokes in the music delimiting the notes for every word.

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 5 Appendices (PDF), and Stenzl 1972, pp. 304-05 + faksimile 77 (1st stanza only and unmeasured verses).

Text: Tropes/verses for the responsory “Libera me, domine, de morte eterna”. In the MS Amiens 162 it is found in a version containing 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 reworked in the 16th century – into the vernacular too (see further the comments on the setting in Amiens 162).

The five stanzas in Tübingen 96 are with small differences identical to stanzas 1-3 and 9-10 in Amiens 162 (the repeat of text and music in the first line of stanza 5 is not written out in Tübingen 96).

The eight stanzas in Grand-Saint-Bernhard 6 display greater differences; they probably represent a revised version adapted to the Augustinian liturgy. In stanzas 1-4 we find many lesser differences; in stanza 5 the variants destroy the rimes; in stanza 6 Petrus Martyr has been replaced by Triumphator Vincenti, and the last two lines do not rime; stanza 7 is a variant of stanza 8 in Amiens 162 (its ad libitum stanza 7 has been omitted) where Anna and Katherina de Siena have been replaced by Magdelena and Katherina nobilis, and the stanza does not rime; stanza 8 is a variant of stanza 9 in Amiens 162, which does rime. After these rimed stanzas with careful clues for the repeats of the responsory follow six prose verses from the standard liturgy for the Office of the dead (cf. Knud Ottosen, The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Aarhus 1993, pp. 407-418: V 55, V 227, V 180, V 178, V159 and V198). The final litany, “Kyrie eleyson”, has the same function as the final stanza 10 in Amiens 162.

The text in Grand-Saint-Bernhard 6 seems to have been revised during the copying or is simply slightly corrupted. Several stanzas do not rime, and three stanzas (5-7) all end with the word “celorum” disregarding the rime structure. There is a tendency that the second halves of the lines here are shorter than in the Amiens 162 version. It looks as if the scribe lost track of the rime words during the revision or simply got tired. That he did not enter the music for the last three items could be an indication that he realized the accumulated imperfections made part of his work difficult to use and left it unfinished.

Among the saints, who the scribe sought to incorporate, is St Vincentus. He died on the rack in 304, and his Passio was authored by Prudentius and by Augustin who revered him. Recent Dominican saints (Petrus Martyr and Katherina de Siena) has been removed from the text in order to put saints from the early centuries (St Catherine, St Vincentus) in prominent places in accordance with Augustinian practice.

A performance according to Grand-Saint-Bernard 6 would proceed as follows supposing that the eight stanzas and the succeeding prose verses represent alternative ways of performing “Libera me”: (R Libera me, V Tremens, R1 Quando celi,) V Justa corpus (1), R2 Dum veneris, V O beata genitrix (2), R1 Quando, etc. ... V Omnes sancti (8), R1 Quando celi, (V Requiem eternam, R Libera me).

The alternative with prose verses is: (R Libera me), V Dies illa, (R1 Quando), V Tremens, (R2 Dum veneris), V Quid ergo, (R1 Quando), V Plangent, (R2 Dum veneris), V Nunc, Criste ... salvare, (R1 Quando), V Requiem eternam, (R Libera me), Kyrie eleyson.

Grand-Saint-Bernard 6:

[1] Justa corpus spiritus / stetit et ploravit,
Et hiis verbis dulciter / Cristum invocavit:
O Criste dulcissime, / tu me redemisti,
Tant bene quam prospere / tu me creasti.


[2] O beata genitrix, / virgo semper pia,
Advocata istius / modo scis Maria,
O virgo pulcherrima, / hic te imploravit
Tu eum prospicere / predie migravit.


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

Dum …

[4] Pater Habraham fidei / omnium finisti,
Cursor Cristi Johannes, / baptista exitisti,
Prophete, patriarche, / omnesque supplicate
pro istis in gloria / deum deprecate.


[5] Vos qui estis seculi / judices, apostoli,
Petre, Paule socii, / adiuvate  istis,
Hunc modo celeriter / locetis firmiter
Sedeat feliciter / ad regna celorum.


[6] Prothomartir Stephane / qui deum orasti,
Triumphator Vincenti, / qui penas superasti,
Orate vos martires / pro istis in gloria
Videam feliciter / gloriam celorum.

Quando celi

[7] Magdelena humilis / Cristi pedes ungisti,
Katherina nobilis, / flos virginitatis,
Omnes atque virgines / simulque martires
Pro istis exorate / Dominum celorum.


[8] Omnes sancti et sancte, / deum deprecate,
Suscipite in celis / ipsum premiate
Omnesque confessores / simulque gementes
Orate existentes / deo afferentes.


V: Dies illa, dies ire, calamitatis et miserie, dies magna et amara valde.

V: Tremens factus sum ego et timeo, dum discussio venerit, atque ventura ira.

V: Quid ergo miserimus, quid dicam aut quid faciam dum nil boni perferam ante tantum judicem?

V: Plangent se super se omnes tribus terre. Vix justus salvabitur, et ego miser, ubi parebo?

V: Nunc, Criste, te deprecor, miserere, pie, qui venisti redimere.

(R)e nos perpetim veni salvare.

Requiem eternam dona eis, domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Kyrie eleyson, Criste eleyson, Kyrie eleyson, Criste eleyson, Kyrie eleyson, Criste eleyson.

Tübingen 96:

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

[2] O beata genitris, / virgo atque mater,
Advocata istorum / modo sis et semper,
O virgo piissima, / hic te imploravit
hunc serne mente pia / in hac die migravit.

[3] Archangele Michael, / custos animarum,
Paranimphus Gabriel, / dator gratiarum,
Angeli, archangeli, / omnesque suscipite,
Ordines spirituum / deo presentate.

[4] Omnes sancti angeli, / deo supplicate,
Suscipite in celis  / deo presentate
Pro isto vestras preces / simulque nos gementes
Orate existentes / hunc deo assistentes.

[5] Christe Jesu, audi nos, / Christe Jesu, exaudi nos.
Kyrie eleyson, / Christe eleyson,
Kyrie eleyson, / Christe eleyson.


This two-part setting of tropes/verses for the responsory “Libera me” 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.

In Tübingen 96 we find the tenor tune, which also appears in Amiens 162, set in simple polyphony for two equal voices both covering an octave (c-c’). It uses only two note values, long and short, and no ligatures. The counter-voice is in near consequent contrary motion and produces no parallel perfect concords, and the form follows the tune without embellishment: AABA’. The triple time produced by the alternation of note values is alleviated by the careful placement of the words, which persistently places a change of syllable on the b-flat in bars 3, 11 and 27 and thus establishes a pattern of 2-1-2-2-2-2 beats at the beginning of all A-lines and derived places.

In additions to the changes in the poem (see above) the version of Grand-Saint-Bernard 6 shows up some musical elaborations. The 2nd note in the counter voice has been made into two descending minimae. This is repeated in both voices in bar 5, and hereby the arranger has put the spotlight on the automatic voice exchange produced by the contrary motion in the contra. In bars 17-20 the counter voice has been directed towards the concord of a fifth in bar 20 instead of the octave. The most important changes are the notation of bar 3 and all similar places as a single note followed by a c.o.p.-ligature and the removal of the bridging note g in bars 4, 12 and 28. This produces a different pattern at the beginning of every A-line of 2-1-2-1-1-2-3 beats, which underscores the triple time and tends to break up every line in halves: A (a-b), A (a-b), B (c-a’), A’ (a’’-b) – and further highlights the voice exchange. The co-ordination of text and music is carefully done, and fermatas mark nearly all half-line endings. The reworking of the two-part setting seems to be a conscious effort to clarify and streamline the music, and it is done with more skill than demonstrated in the adaption of the text.

A different performance of “Libera me” could use the row of simple two-voice settings of the liturgical tunes current in the 15th century, which in the MS succeeds the stanzas belonging to “Justa corpus” without any break. They are in unmeasured chant notation, note-against note with many ligatures, and the basic concord is the third with prime and fifth and occasionally the octave as intermediate or final concords. The verses start out with the tune in the tenor (the voice on the left hand pages) in “Dies illa” and “Tremens factus sum” corresponding to the Worchester Antiphoner (Mocquereau 1925, facsimile 43; modern versions in AR p. [174] and GR p. 103*). In “Quid ergo” the tune moves to the contra, and in “Plangent” the tune (Worchester, verse 2) and “Nunc Christi” (same music) moves back to the tenor. For the end of “Nunc Criste”, “Requiem eternam” and the following “Kyrie eleyson” the music has not been copied (empty staves), and the text hand is hasty and hardly readable – possibly the scribe simply abandoned his project.

A different setting of the tune:

Amiens 162 D, ff. 18v-28 »Juxta corpus spiritus stetit« 3v (10 stanzas)

PWCH May 2014