A New Years’ Apéritif with the Canons of Sens (6)

After the cursus of the liturgical offices of the Feast of the Circumcision, the Lord Archbishop Peter of Corbeil added some additional musical material, including this charming carol sung ad poculum, i.e. when the Canons gathered to enjoy an apéritif before a festive luncheon.

The surviving account books of the Cathedral show that ample provision was made to ensure a proper supply of wine for the celebrations.


Note how each stanza begins with the word that ended the preceding stanza, or a variation thereof.

Listen to Notker’s recording of the carol here:

Kalendas ianuarias
sollempnes, Xpiste, facias
et nos ad tuas nuptias
uocatos, rex, suscipias.
Make solemn, O Christ,
the Kalends of January,
and, O King, gather
the invited to Thy wedding.
Suscipe tuum populum
ad nuptiarum epulum,
Qui multiplex es ferculum,
cuius sanguis est poculum.
Bring Thy people
to Thy marriage feast,
Thou who art a rich carriage,[1]
whose blood is a drinking cup.
Poculum tui sanguinis
sumptique carnem hominis,
ad laudem tui nominis,
da nobis, proles Uirginis.
Give us the cup of Thy blood
and the flesh of man Thou didst take up,
to the praise of Thy name,
O Son of the Virgin.
Uirginis quidem proprius
et creator et filius
extra quem non est alius,
et quid hoc mirabilius?
Verily the Virgin’s own
both maker and son
without whom there is none other,
and what more marvelous than this?
Miranda res per secula,
quod sine uiri copula
Te concepit iuuencula,
in virginali clausula.
A wonderful thing for aye,
that a young maid unknown to man
did conceive thee
in the cloister of her virginal womb.
Clausa mater concipiens
clausa fuit et pariens,
et Tu, Deus ingrediens,
ingressus et egrediens.
Inviolate did thy mother conceive thee,
inviolate she was too in bearing thee,
and Thou, O God, went in,
and once gone in went out.
Egressus autem, ardua
mortis fregisti cornua;
quin ipsa mors est mortua,
occisa uite ianua.
And having gone out,
Thou brakest the forces of death;
nay, e’en death itself died,
when the gate of life was slain.
Ianua uite congrua,
immo uita perpetua,
nos, Xpiste, per hec omnia,[2]
duc ad festa continua;
Fitting gate of life,
nay, eternal life itself,
by all these things, O Christ,
lead us to the feasts everlasting,
Continua festa Syon,
quo repertum topazion
tulisti homo in Syon[3]
Patri presentans Elyon.[4]
Everlasting feasts of Sion,
whither thou bore the recovered topaz,[5]
O man in Sion,
proferring it to the Father Most High.
Ely Patri sit gloria,
Tibi, Xpiste, uictoria,
Neupmati sint equalia
per seculorum secula.
Glory be to Eli the Father,
victory to Thee, O Christ,
and the same to the Ghost,
unto the ages of ages.


See the other posts in this series:

1. A Feast of Fools?: First Vespers
2. Compline
3. Mattins, Lauds, and the Little Hours
4. Mass and Second Vespers
5. Why the Office of Peter of Corbeil was Suppressed


[1] Multiplex ferculum may be a pun on the double meaning of ferculum, meaning both Solomon’s rich litter (Canticle of Canticles 3, 9) and a course in a meal. Solomon’s carriage, by which he was carried to a feast, was interpreted allegorically to refer to Christ or the Apostles, who carry the believer to the eternal feast.

[2] Omnia is written by a much later hand. In his edition of this conductus in the Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, Fr Guido Maria Dreves suggests amending it to annua: “by these yearly feasts, O Christ, lead us to feasts everlasting.”

[3] This line might be corrupt; Dreves amends homo in Syon to homousion, which does not seem much of an improvement.

[4] Eli is the Aramaic for “my God,” taken from Psalm 21.

[5] The topaz was thought to contain all colors, and so was often seen by mystical writers as a symbol of Christ (who contains all virtues) or, as here, of all the saints.

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