Deux tropes, à propos de rien

To recall the words of an introductory post on tropes, one of the most fascinating fruits of the mediaeval love for the liturgy is the vast corpus of tropes that age has bequeathed to us. “Trope” is the collective term applied today to musical additions to the preexisting liturgical chants; the medievals themselves variously referred to them as tropi, versus, laudes, prosae, prosulae, or verba.

Troping (or farcing) was a distinctly Western method of elaborating liturgical texts, an aspect of the Roman Rite’s medieval development that was more or less curtailed (though never clearly forbidden) in the post-Tridentine centuries. They are born out of the spirit of lectio divina, the loving rumination, commentary, and elaboration of the sacra pagina, applied to the texts of the sacred liturgy. Previously, we’ve shown troped Kyries and Introits, but few parts of the Mass escaped being farced. Glorias, Introits, Epistles, and even Creeds bloomed with verses grafted by the liturgy’s medieval gardeners.

Music 2 (H)
Horae ad usum romanum. Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Latin 1156 B, fol. 31r.

Until the French Revolution, a farced Regina cæli used to be sung as a final hymn to Our Lady after Lauds, Vespers, and Compline on Easter in the Antiphonal of the Royal Convent of Rivoli in Paris. The intercalated three triplets Virgo, Infrementis, and Veri are a sort of response or solo sung by a part of the choir or by children or cantors, and were sung after the full choir had finished its verset with an alleluia.

Regina cæli, lætare, alleluia!
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia,
Virgo, Mater resurgentis,
Vetustatem nostræ mentis,
Clementer evacua.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia!
Infrementis, corrumpentis
Mundi carnes et serpentis
Mixturam attenua.

Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia!
Veri lumen Orientis,
Fac nos pacem permanentis
Possidere pascua, alleluia!

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia!
For He Whom thou didst deserve to bear, alleluia,
O Virgin, Mother of the Resurrected, mercifully cleanse the old dross of our mind. 

Is risen again, as He said, alleluia!
Soothe the flesh of the frenzied and corrupting world and the craft of the serpent. 

Pray for us to God, alleluia!
Grant us the peace of possessing the Pasch of the eternal and true light of the East, alleluia!

In Codex 42 of the library of the monastery of Einsiedeln, a 10th-century manuscript that contains the second part of the Homiliarium or Lectionary of Paul the Deacon, one finds in fol. 268b, written by an 11th-century hand, sundry Tropi sive farcitiones for the Tu autem Domine which was and is still said at the end of lessons. They appear to have been sung after the lessons of Matins on the great feast of Christmas.


Tu autem, Domine, qui hodie humanitatis nostræ particeps fieri dignatus es, miserere nobis.

Tu autem, Domine, qui hodie pro salute humani generis nasci dignatus es, miserere nobis.

Tu autem, Domine, qui hodierna die per uterum intactæ Virginis ad nos venire dignatus es, miserere nobis.

Tu autem, Domine, Alpha et Omega, qui in principio cum Patre omnia creasti ex nihilo et in præsenti die nasci dignatus es ex Virginis alvo, miserere nobis.

Tu autem, Deus de Deo, lumen de lumine, Domine, miserere nobis.

Tu autem, Domine, lux lucis, dies Domini, miserere nobis.

But thou, O Lord, who deignedst today to participate in our humanity, have mercy on us.

But thou, O Lord, who deignedst today to be born for the salvation of the human race, have mercy on us.

But thou, O Lord, who deignedst today to come to us through the womb of the intact Virgin, have mercy on us.

But thou, O Lord, Alpha and Omega, who in the beginning createdst all things from nothing with the Father, and on the present day deignedst to be born from the Virgin’s womb, have mercy on us.

But thou, O Lord, God from God, light from light, have mercy on us.

But thou, O Lord, light of light, day of the Lord, have mercy on us.

Translated from Dom Suitbert Bäumer’s Histoire du bréviaire, translated and expanded by Dom Réginald Biron, Vol. 2, pp. 422-3.

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