Friday, May 08, 2009

Congaudeant Catholici

At YouTube, a version of this Benedicamus trope, found in the Codex Calixtinus, sung by Anonymous 4:



Here's another version, sung by male voices, that actually sounds quite different:



That last YouTube page gives this citation:
Title: "Offertorium: Congaudeant catholici"
Service: Missa Sancti Iacobi


From CPDL, the Latin words:
Congaudeant catholici,
letentur cives celici

Refrain: die ista

Clerus pulcris carminibus
studeat atque cantibus.

Hec est dies laudabilis,
divina luce nobilis.

Vincens herodis gladium,
accepit vite bravium.

Qua iacobus palatia,
ascendit ad celestia.

Ergo carenti termino
benedicamus domino.

Magno patri familias
solvamus laudis gratias.


Will post a translation as soon as I find it. There's actually a PDF of the score, in modern notation, out there, too.

[EDIT:  Here's a translation, from this PDF that comes from the Anonymous Four website:

Let the whole church rejoice,
let the heavenly host be glad

Refrain: this day

Let the clergy diligently sing
their lovely tunes and songs.

This is a praiseworthy day,
made glorious by divine light.

Conquering the sword of Herod,
he received the crown of life.

To the heavenly mansions
James ascended.

Therefore without ceasing
let us bless the lord.

To the great father of us all
let us send forth our thanks with praise.

— Master Albert of Paris]


From a page at Vanderbilt University:
An illustrative example of the variations in transcription caused by such differences of opinion is the Benedicamus trope, Congaudeant Catholici. It is probably the most famous polyphonic piece of music from the Codex Calixtinus. It is the only piece that is scored for three voices, and it is the earliest known example of a three-voice texture. In the past, some scholars, including Peter Wagner, had argued that it wasn't really a three-voice texture, but was a two-voice texture with an optional tenor part. Their justification for this opinion was that one lower voice is written in black ink, the other in red ink. Helmer points out that the different colored inks did nothing more than distinguish between the two parts; since the two lines cross one another, it would be a necessary feature in the notation (pg. 80).

The primary difference in the Karp transcription (Vol. 2, pg. 206) and the Helmer transcription (pg. 243) is that the former is in triple meter and the latter, duple. (Actually, the Helmer score is notated in free rhythm, but a duple meter is suggested. A grouped notation of the Helmer version can be found in the Norton Anthology of Western Music, Vol. 1, pg. 51.) Naturally, this affects the other important element of polyphony, the alignment of the notes. The only places on which the two versions agree on the alignment are the cadences because their placement is governed by rules which are more consistent and better understood.



And more from the same page, in re: the Codex itself and Compostela:
The city of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain has been a popular destination for pilgrims since the middle ages. The origin and nature of this tradition are described by the twelfth century Codex Calixtinus. Especially noteworthy is the inclusion of music, some of which is polyphonic. The study of this early organum has provided new and often controversial insights into the development of the genre, owing to the fact that it is some of the earliest polyphony in our literature.

The Cult of St. James

In the late 8th century, Charlemagne had a "vision" in which a knightly figure appeared to him, identifying himself as St. James, the apostle (Santiago in Spanish). St. James described to Charlemagne that his body was resting in a tomb in the furthest reaches of western Europe, finis terrae, or "the ends of the earth." However, the path to his resting place was blocked by the "infidels," i.e., the Moors that had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula. Charlemagne was to follow the path of the stars, the Milky Way, through Spain, liberating this holy ground from Islamic influence.

So recounts Book IV of the Codex Calixtinus. The book continues on to describe the various battles of Charlemagne and other men in the reconquista of Spain. Throughout these "crusades" the name of St. James was invoked as a rallying point and became central to uniting all Christendom against the Moors.

The enormous influence of the figure of St. James contributed to a phenomenon known as the "cult of St. James." Legends of miraculous healings and blessings attributed to the power of St. James began to spread. The faithful Christians of Europe, seeking to magnify their piety and devotion, began making pilgrimages to the site which had been designated as his final burial place, a small town in northwestern Spain called Santiago de Compostela.

Santiago de Compostela

According to legend, after the martyrdom of James in Jerusalem at the hands of Herod, his body was carried in a boat to Galicia by some of his disciples. (Galicia is the name of the northwestern region of Spain.) Although the various stories differ significantly, the actual tomb was purported to have been discovered by one of two people in the 9th century: Pelayo, a local hermit, or Theodomir, a local bishop in Galicia. Nearly all the legends describe how the discovery of the tomb was accompanied by bright lights or stars above the wooded area where the tomb rested, and angels who proclaimed the divinity of the location. A small church was constructed on the spot, which would later be replaced by the stately cathedral now present. The place was called Campus Stellae, or "Field of the Stars," later shortened to Compostela. (Edwin Mullins, in his book The Pilgrimage to Santiago, points out that the true derivation of Compostela is the Latin Compositium or Compostum, meaning "burial ground." [pg. 7])

The popularity of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela was surpassed only by Jerusalem and Rome. There are a couple of reasons for such popularity. First was the idea of "divine grace," or the intercession of saints either to provide a miracle (such as a healing) or pardon from sins. Traveling long distances to pay homage to a saint was considered a worthy price to pay to merit forgiveness. The other motivation for pilgrims was the medieval fascination with relics. Oftentimes, these relics were believed to be endowed with healing or restorative powers. Less significant relics located in other places, such as slivers of wood from the Cross, or individual bones of some saint, attracted fewer people. The entire body of St. James was considered to be one of the more significant relics of the Middle Ages.

The Codex Calixtinus

The Codex Calixtinus, housed at the cathedral in Santiago, is a manuscript of the book entitled Liber Sancti Jacobi written between 1130 and 1140. It is considered by many to be the first tourist promotional book in history. Its several books describe the history of St. James and his importance in liberating Spain from the Moors, the miracles of St. James on behalf of pilgrims and others, and information about the principal route leading to Santiago de Compostela (popularly called the "Camino de Santiago" or more specifically, the camino francés). It wasn't actually written in Spain; evidence suggests that monks in southern France may have authored parts of it. Scholars believe that it was carried to Spain in the early 12th century by a man named Aymery Picaud, who also happens to be the editor of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, and perhaps the author of Book V, which is the pilgrims' guide. Aymery Picaud was the chancellor of Pope Calixtus II, and in order to give the book more authority and authenticity, he inserted into the text forged letters from the pope and from other important historical figures.

It is not known exactly why those of southern France would be so interested in promoting the pilgrimage to Santiago. One reason may be that people of Europe first had to pass through southwestern France on their way to Spain. Fernando López Alsina, in his article, "La Formación del Camino de Santiago," attributes a more religious significance to the area of Galicia: ". . . The location of the tomb of the apostle James certified the sure fulfillment of the Master's charge to carry the good word to the ends of the earth." (Translation by the author.)

The books of the Codex Calixtinus are as follows:

Book I

Book I contains sermons and other liturgical material, much of which is set to plainchant. Although much of the material is attributed to important historical figures, scholars doubt their authenticity. Since the codex is written in honor of St. James, it is fitting that the liturgy provided revolves around two occasions: July 25th, the Feast of the Passion of St. James; and December 30, the Feast of the Translation and Election of St. James. A collection of poetry and pilgrims' hymns is also included.

Book II

This book contains 22 chapters which describe various miracles that were performed through the power of St. James. Many of them occurred in cities along the Camino de Santiago, and the recipients of such miracles were often pilgrims.

Book III


The story of how James ended up in Spain is told in Book III. It is the shortest of the books of the Codex Calixtinus.

Book IV

After Charlemagne's vision of St. James, he began a series of campaigns against the Moors. The battles are described in this book. It was supposedly written by Turpin, an archbishop who accompanied Charlemagne in these military expeditions. Nevertheless, Book IV is often called the pseudo-Turpin because it is doubtful that Turpin had anything at all to do with the book or with the expeditions.

Book V

Book V is often labeled as Book IV because of King Philip, who ordered that Book IV be removed from the Codex. Later, of course, it was restored, but the numbering is often based on the unrestored version.

Book V is the pilgrims' guide, probably written by Aymery Picaud. It describes conditions along the camino for the traveler. Obviously, the travelers couldn't carry copies of the manuscript with them, but the information was available in copied manuscripts, especially in France.

Of interest musically is a supplementary section of polyphonic settings which augment the music available in Book I. There are a total of twenty pieces, each set for two voices with the exception of one which is probably a three-voice texture. It seems that, when performing this music (usually the polyphony was reserved for the masses, not the offices) the choirmasters were at liberty to substitute any particular section of the mass from Book I with a polyphonic equivalent from Book V. The most common substitutions seem to be tropes of the Kyrie and the Benedicamus Domino.


Here's another piece, apparently, from the Missa Sancti Iacobi, Codex Calixtinus, with this designation:
Medieval chant from Codex Calixtinus.
Title: "Graduale"
Service: Missa Sancti Iacobi


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