Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Alleluia: Angelus domini

This comes, apparently, from the "Antiphonary tonary missal of St. Benigne" (also called "Antiphonarium Codex Montpellier" or "Tonary of Saint-Bénigne of Dijon"), H159.  I don't know who the singers here are, but it's certainly lovely.

Here's a screen cap of the page in the manuscript (link below) from which this music comes; it's found in the section Alleluia Tetrarda Plagalis.  (Tetrarda Plagalis means something like "Fourth Tone, Second Type"; there were apparently 8 different kinds of melodies - i.e., "tones" - but divided into four 4 groups of two.  This I believe came out of the Byzantine chant system called oktoechos.)

Although as far as I can tell it doesn't say in the manuscript - it's organized by tone, rather than feast - this is obviously for use on Easter or during Eastertide.  The texts come from Matthew 28 and John 18:

Angelus enim[autem] Domini descendit de coelo, et accedens revolvit lapidem, et super eum sedit. 

Respondens autem angelus dixit mulieribus: Quem quaeritis? Illae autem dixerunt: Jesum Nazarenum.

An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and rolled back the stone, and sat on it. 

And he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

This manuscript is known as "Codex H. 159 de la Bibliothèque de l'École de médecine de Montpellier."  IMSPL has what it calls a Preface, Directories (monochrome); this looks to be an add-on analysis and Table-of-Contents to the manuscript itself, here as a 4.5MB PDF.  It also offers the Complete Codex (color scans), in a 20MB PDF; both of these are courtesy of the Boston Public Library, it says.   If I'm reading this correctly, I'm gathering that this was part of the Solesmes chant research project during the 19th Century; Dom Andre Mocquereau was editor of the Preface.  Clearly I need to look more closely at that project, and to learn more about it.

Quite amazing, actually, to be able to casually download these things from a thousand years ago and look them over at home.

Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the Antiphonary of St. Benigne, too; I'm gathering that this means H 159 is rather important among chant manuscripts.   Here are some quotes from that article:
The Antiphonary tonary missal of St. Benigne (also called Antiphonarium Codex Montpellier or Tonary of Saint-Bénigne of Dijon) was supposed to be written in the last years of the 10th century, when the Abbot William of Volpiano at St. Benignus of Dijon reformed the liturgy of several monasteries in Burgundy. The chant manuscript records mainly Western plainchant of the Roman-Frankish proper mass and part of the chant sung during the matins ("Gregorian chant"), but unlike the common form of the Gradual and of the Antiphonary, William organized his manuscript according to the chant genre (antiphons with psalmody, alleluia verses, graduals, offertories, and proses for the missal part), and theses sections were subdivided into eight parts according to the octoechos. This disposition followed the order of a tonary, but William of Volpiano wrote not only the incipits of the classified chant, he wrote the whole chant text with the music in central French neumes which were still written in campo aperto, and added a second alphabetic notation of his own invention for the melodic structure of the codified chant.


This particular type of a fully notated tonary only appeared in Burgundy and Normandy. It can be regarded as a characteristic document of a certain school founded by William of Volpiano, who was reforming abbot at St. Benignus of Dijon since 989. In 1001 he followed a request by Duke Richard II and became first abbot at the Abbey of Fécamp which was another reforming centre of monasticism in Normandy.

Here's a bit more about this manuscript itself:
The Tonary of Saint-Bénigne of Dijon is organized in a very rare form of a fully notated tonary, which serves like a fully notated music manuscript for mass (gradual) and office chant (antiphonary).[8]

The first division of the chant book is between the book's gradual (fol. 13r-155v) and an antiphonary fragment (fol. 156r-162v) which has the Matins for Palm Sunday, St. Blasius and St. Hylarius in the conventional liturgical order, but with tonal rubrics.[9] The last leaf was added from another book to use the blank versoside for additions on the last pages written by other hands, chant notated in adiastematic neumes but without alphabetic notation and even diastematic neumes with alphabetic notation (fol. 160r-163r).[10]

The gradual itself with proper mass chant is divided into six parts: The first are antiphons (introiti and communions) (fol. 13r-53r). The next three parts are chant genres which precedes lessons: alleluia verses for gospel readings (fol. 53v-69r), the benedictiones (hymnus trium puerorum) for prophetic readings (fol. 75r-76v), and the graduels for epistel readings (fol. 77r-98v). The last two parts are an offertorial (fol. 99r-151r) and a tractus collection (fol. 69r-74v; 151v-155v), dedicated to the genre which replace the alleluia verses during fasten time for all kinds of scriptural readings.[11]

The third level of division are the eight parts according to the oktoechos in the order of autentus protus, plagi proti, autentus deuterus etc. In the first part, every tonal section has all introits according to the liturgical year cycle and then all communions according to the liturgical order. The whole disposition is not new, but it is identical with tonaries from different regions of the Cluniac Monastic Association. The only difference is that every chant is not represented by an incipit, it is fully notated in neumes and in alphabetic notation as well, so that even cantors who do not know the chant can memorize it with this tonary together with its tonus.

And this seems to be a page taken from the manuscript.   Here's a description:
As an example might serve the Introitus "Repleatur os meum" used as a refrain for psalm 70 during the procession into the church, at the beginning of the morning mass on Saturday before Pentecost. The introit was written in the first part of the antiphons and is quite at the beginning of the deuterus section (written as heading on each page), hence an introit in the 3rd tone or "autentus deuterus":

Here's another image from the manuscript.  Fortunately there's no information at that page about it, so I'm attempting to decipher the writing to try to figure out where it came from; that's part of the fun, after all.  (The first section definitely starts out with Puer natus est - so we're almost certainly looking at something for around Christmastime; the second starts with Adorate deum; that's currently the incipit of the Introit for the third Sunday after the Epiphany.  Those are some initial tantalizing clues to work from!)

I'm noticing some other very interesting links at the IMSLP page.  I'll definitely be back with some stuff about those - particularly if I can find some audio or video recordings of some of the music!

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