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Lyon, Bibliothèque de la Ville, ms. 6632 fonds musicales, f. 12
»Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2-3v

The source is a set of fragments removed from the binding of Catalogus sanctorum, printed in Lyons 1542. The fragments contain primarily four-part mass music, plainchant invitatories and three-part polyphony without text; probably copied in Lyons around 1500, cf. Christoffersen 1994, Vol. I, pp. 319-325, and Fiona Shand, ‘A New Continental Source of a Fifteenth-Century Mass’, Music & Letters 88 (2007), pp. 405-419.

»Lugentibus in purgatorio« was copied by the fragments’ Hand B in white mensural notation without any indication of the mensuration, probably on the front page of a fascicle containing three-part polyphony without text, invitatories and empty staves. The setting is nearly completely preserved and has full text in the voices. Five stanzas of text accompanies the music; one stanza is laid under the music, and four more have been entered between the two voice parts. The right-hand side of the folio has been cut away, but enough of the music has been left to allow us to reconstruct the whole fairly well. Hand B has entered two voices and the text from an original. They fill only six of the eleven staves on the page, so five staves were left empty at the bottom of the page. Here we now find a third part for “Lugentibus” as well as some scribbles, which look like a rough exercise in composition. This is clearly an addition written in lighter ink and without text. The similarity of the music hand and the drawing of the clefs may perhaps be taken to mean that Hand B himself composed the part directly on the paper. The part follows the other two mechanically and completes the harmonies in leaping motion. While writing it the composer corrected a note, which would have produced parallel fifths with the tenor (at “purgatur”, d has been changed into an A).

Editions: Amiens 162 Edition no. 2 Appendix (PDF) and in Christoffersen 1994, Vol. I, p. 322 (Example 1); also available alone (PDF).

Text: A widely disseminated prayer for the dead in purgatory, cf. RH nos. 10180-81 and no. 10723; Mone 1853 Vol. I, pp. 400-402; Leroquais 1927, Vol. I, p. 160, and Vol. II, p. 240; AR p. 198*; and VP pp. 239-41. This version consists of five stanzas of four lines, which correspond to stanzas 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8 in Mone 1853; after the four riming lines the stanzas end with the invocation ”O Maria”.

[1] Lugentibus in purgatorio
qui purgatur ardore nimio.
dum torquentur sine remedio,
subveniat tua compassio.
O Maria.

[2] O fons patens qui culpas abluis
omnes lavas et nulum respuis
tuam manum extende mortuis
qui sub penis languent continuis.
O Maria.

[3] Lex justorum, norma credentium

vera salus, in te sperantium,

pro deffunctis sit tibi studium

assidue orare filium.
O Maria.

[4] Benedicta per tua merita,

te rogamus mortuos suscita

et dimitens eorum debita

in requiem sis eis semita.
O Maria.

[5] Dies illa, dies terribilis,

dies malis intollerabilis,

sed tu, mater, semper amabilis,

fac sit eis judex placabilis.
O Maria.


The original two-part setting is in simple note-against-note polyphony for equal voices at a low pitch (A-a) with many crossings of voices. It is, however, rhythmisized with the use of no less than four different note values. The four lines of the text are set syllabically in the form abca' ending on D, E, C and D; they are followed by the invocation “O Maria” with fermatas above every single note; only the first stanza is set. The voice [tenor], which is placed in the middle of the page, may be based on a simple hymn melody; the original counter-voice combines with it in fifths and parallel thirds. The setting shows the same ‘rush to the cadence’ as other settings in simple polyphony, but is, of course, much more varied rhythmically than for example the setting in Grand-Saint-Bernhard, Ms. 7 or Tübingen 96. The added voice, presumably composed on the page, is of a greater range (A-c’) and completes the concords, often creating triads – and it muddles the sound in a rather incompetent way.

Contemporary or later settings of the text:

Amiens, Bibliothèque Centrale Louis Aragon, ms. 162 D, ff. 10v-13 »Lugentibus in purgatorio« 3v

»Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2v in
Grand-Saint-Bernard, Bibliothèque de l’Hospice, Ms. 7 (2038) ff. 60v-63v »Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2v “Pro fidelibus deffunctis”, and
Tübingen, Universitätsbibliothek, MS Mk 96, ff. 55v-57 »Lugentibus in purgatorio« 2v

Uppsala, Universitetsbiblioteket, Vokalmusik i Handskrift 76a, no. 66, ff. 68v-73
»Kirie eleyson - Langentibus in purgatorio« 2v

PWCH March 2014