Wine-Tasting Party during the Gradual in the Rite of Lyon

The experimentum vini

Pontifical Mass in the Lyonese use features an interesting ceremony that takes place between the epistle and gospel: while the Gradual and Alleluia are sung, the chalice is prepared in a separate chapel by a group of clerics. In the 17th century, the gustatio of the wine during this ritual caused some scandal, as Archdale King recounts in his description of the Lyonese rite:

An interesting ceremony connected with the offertory takes place between the epistle and gospel—the ‘administration’ and testing of the wine (experimentum vini). Neither the 12th-century statues of Archbishop Guichard (1164-81) nor the 13th-century ordinary (St. John) make any reference to the rite, but it is mentioned in the 14th century ordinary (Barbet of St. Just). It was not, however, peculiar to Lyons, and a somewhat similar ceremony was performed at a side altar in the cathedral churches of Amiens, Soissons, Chalon-sur-Saône, and Tours before the Revolution. This rite was formerly conducted in the church of the Holy Cross, and today in the chapel of the Holy Cross, which was known at one time by the name of Notre Dame du Haut Don.

The participants in the ceremony include the acolytes, subdeacons, deacons, a priest in a cope, the first ‘perpetual’ [chaplain], another in a mozetta, and the sacristan (manilier). It was formerly the custom for five acolytes to take part, while the other two stayed behind in order to hold the ‘tablets’ before the canons who were singing the gradual, but, as the chant is now conducted by petits clercs, it is possible for all seven to assist at the ‘administration’.

The senior subdeacon carries the empty chalice with the paten and host, covered with a veil (pavillon); the senior deacon, the cruet of wine raised in his right hand; while the priest in mozetta brings the burse and corporal. On arrival in the chapel, the acolytes and ministers form two lines, with the senior acolyte in the middle near the entrance. The priest in a cope goes up to the altar, where he unfolds the corporal, places the vessels on it, and, extending his hands over the host, says: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis, etc. The deacon then presents the wine, which the manilier tastes, an bonum et conveniens sit.


The wine was formerly provided by the collegiate churches of the city, which seem to have been generous in their gift, and in the 17th century we find not only the manilier, but also the clerks and clergeons tasting the wine. With such an arrangement, abuses were inevitable, and writers of the time accused the authorities of organizing a miniature ‘drinking party’: Ils ont une espèce de beuvette derrière l’autel de Notre Dame de Haut Don. The scandal was brought to an end by the chapter in 1621, when it was decided that the surplus of the offering should be given to the sick.

A small handbook, describing the ceremonies of the pontifical Mass at Lyons, gives a reason for the ‘tasting’ other than the traditional fear of poison. It says that it is useful for the purpose of making certain that water has not been put into the cruet instead of wine, as the mistake ‘would singularly complicate the ceremony, when at the Communion of the pontiff he should perceive his error’!

[Footnote: Cf. the suspicious incident at the Cistercian abbey of Trois-Fontaines, recalled in one of the letters of St. Bernard. Guy, the abbot, discovered at his Communion that there was no wine in the chalice, whereupon he added the wine and ‘sanctified’ it by placing a particle of the Host in the chalice. There is no mention of water, although it seems probable that this had been added at the offertory.]




Gemma Animae (7): Ingressus episcopi quid significet

Ch. 7

What the Bishop’s Entrance Represents.


As he comes in, the bishop bestows peace upon the clergy, for Christ, when he came into the world, brought peace to the human race, which it had lost in its first parent. Then he enters the sanctuary, and, inclined towards the altar, prays and makes his confession. He begs for pardon, for Christ entered Jerusalem in order to suffer, and inclined himself towards death in order to wash us clean. In the Last Supper, he prayed to the Father for the Church, and then gave perfect pardon to Peter, penitent and admitting his guilt, or to the thief, and then to the entire people. Then he kisses  the two priests, for by Christ the cornerstone two walls are joined together in one faith. Then he bestows peace upon the other ministers to his right, for Christ preached peace for those far and those nigh, and coming from the East and the West he joined them in a bond of peace.

He kisses the altar and Gospel-book, for men are joined to angels in peace through the passion of Christ. The altar represents the Jews, whereas the Gospel represents the Gentiles. After this, receiving the thurible, he incenses the altar: a figure of the angel who in the Apocalypse stood by the altar with a golden thurible, whence the smoke of spices rose in the sight of God. For Christ, the Angel of great counsel, offered himself up for us on the altar of the Cross. From him God the Father received a sweet odour, and appeared merciful to the world. The smoke of spices is the prayers of the saints who, through the ardour of charity, or like the kindled coals of the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost, rise towards God over the altar that is Christ.

Then he kisses the altar, for Christ was immolated for our peace on the altar of the Cross. Then the Gloria in excelsis begins, and the choir sings together, for in his death Christ restored the glory of the angels to men, in which death the joyous crowd of saints resounds praises. Then, turning to the people, he says Pax vobis, for Christ, in rising up from the dead, restored peace to the Church and said Pax vobis to his own. Then he says the collect on the right side, for Christ has already crossed from death to life, and conveyed us from exile back to the fatherland. The collect [oratio], however, signifies the blessing he gave to his own as he ascended into heaven.

After doing these things, the bishop proceeds to sit; and Christ, after duly doing all things, ascended into heaven, and rests sitting at the right hand of the Father. Some sit with the bishop, and others attend to him, for some of the elect now rest with Christ, while many others still serve him here working for him.

Ingressus episcopi quid significet.

Episcopus ingrediens pacem clero porrigit; quia Christus mundum ingrediens pacem humano generi attulit, quam in primo parente amisit. Deinde sanctuarium intrat, inclinans coram altari orat, confessionem faciens. Indulgentiam implorat, quia Christus Hierusalem passurus intravit, pro nobis lavandis se in mortem inclinavit; in coena Patrem pro Ecclesia oravit, poenitenti et confitenti Petro, vel latroni, deinde omni populo perfectam donavit. Post hoc duos sacerdotes osculatur, quia per Christum lapidem angularem duo parietes in una fide copulantur. Deinde caeteris ministris a dextra pacem dabit, quia Christus pacem his qui longe, et his qui prope praedicavit, et ab Oriente et Occidente veniens in vinculo pacis sociavit. Altare et Evangelium osculatur, quia passione Christi homines angelis in pace sociantur. Per altare namque Iudaei, per Evangelium gentes denotantur. Post haec thuribulum accipiens, altare thurificat in figura angeli qui in Apocalypsi cum aureo thuribulo altari astiterat, de quo fumus aromatum in conspectu Domini ascendebat. Quia Christus magni consilii angelus in ara crucis se pro nobis obtulit, cuius corpus thuribulum Ecclesiae fuit. Ex quo Deus Pater suavitatem odoris accepit, et propitius mundo exstitit. Fumus aromatum, orationes sanctorum sunt, quae super aram Christum, per charitatis ardorem, vel illuminationis Spiritus sancti carbones incensi ad Deum ascendunt. Deinde altare osculatur; quia Christus pro nostra pace in ara crucis immolabatur. Deinde Gloria in excelsis incipit, et chorus concinit; quia Christus per mortem suam gloriam angelorum hominibus restituit, in qua sanctorum populus laetabundus laudes perstrepit. Deinde ad populum se convertens, Pax vobis dicit, quia Christus a mortuis resurgens, pacem Ecclesiae reddidit, suisque Pax vobis dixit. Deinde in dextera parte orationem dicit; quia Christus iam de morte ad vitam transiit, nosque de exsilio in patriam transtulit. Oratio autem illam benedictionem significat, qua coelos ascensurus suos benedicebat. His peractis, episcopus sedere pergit; et Christus, omnibus rite peractis, coelos ascendit, et in dextra Patris sedens quiescit. Quidam cum episcopo sedent, quidam ei assistunt. Quia quidam electi nunc cum Christo requiescunt, plurimi adhuc in labore ei hic serviunt.

Trope of the Week: Clemens Rector

Clemens Rector, aeterne Pater, immense, eleison.
Nostras necne voces exaudi, benedicte Domine.
Aether stellifer noster, nostri benigne eleison.
Merciful ruler, eternal Father, immense one, have mercy.
And hearken to our voices, blessed Lord.
Our star-bearing heaven, in Thy compassion have mercy on us.
Plebem tuam, Sabaoth Hagie, semper rege, eleison.
Trine et une, sedulas nostras preces, Rex, suscipe.
Fidem auge his, qui credunt in te, tu succurre, eleison.
Rule Thy people alway, holy Lord of hosts, have mercy.
Treble and one, heed our diligent prayers, O King.
Increase the faith of those who believe in Thee, succour them, have mercy.
Respice nobis, o Inclyte, fer opem de excelsis et nostras, Redemptor orbis terrae, voces iugi Angelorum carmini adiunge, eleison.
Cunctipotens, sophiae tuae lumen nobis infunde.
Tripertite et une Kyrie, qui manes in aeternum cum Patre, te ore, te corde atque mente, psallimus nunc tibi, o beate Iesu bone, te precamur omnes assidue, eleison.
Behold us, O Glorious one, bring aid from on high and join our voices, O Redeemer of the world, with the ceaseless song of the angels, have mercy.
All-powerful one, pour into us the light of thy wisdom.
Tripartite and one, O Lord, who remaineth with the Father for aye, we now sing to Thee with our lips, heart, and mind, O blessed good Jesus, we all continually beseech Thee, have mercy.

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 17.48.43Clemens rector, listed as Kyrie ad lib. 1 in the Vatican Edition, was one of the oldest and most popular Kyrie melodies in the Middle Ages. It first appears in West Frankish manuscripts from the 10th century, and by the 13th century it had spread throughout Europe. Although there are sundry farced versions of most Kyrie melodies, Clemens rector is remarkable in being the only trope that was ever attached to this one, and indeed, it proved as enduringly popular as the melody. The oldest manuscripts prescribe that the Clemens rector trope be sung on the feast of St Stephen, but it soon began to be reserved for the greatest feasts of the liturgical year, being sung variously on Christmas, Childermas, Eastertide, Ascension, Pentecost, All Saints, St Peter, St Benedict, and feasts of Our Lady. In the mid-12th century, Peter the Venerable, abbot of Cluny, ordained that the Clemens rector trope was to be sung on the five principal feasts in his monastery, adding that this was already an established tradition in other monasteries of the Cluniac congregation, such as Moissac:

Statutum est, ut illud Kyrie eleyson, cuius cantus habet prosaicos versus, quorum principium est Clemens rector aeterne, pater immense eleyson, qui in multis monasteriis ad Cluniacum pertinentibus usu antiquo cantabatur, etiam Cluniaci in quinque praecipuis festis cantetur.

Even after tropes fell into disfavour in the aftermath of the Tridentine reforms, the Clemens rector continued to be chaunted in certain places, and is found in liturgical books published as late as the 18th century.

The popularity of this trope owes much to fact that its textual shape is singularly well adapted to the Kyrie’s musical shape, as David Bjork demonstrates in The Aquitanian Kyrie Repertory of the Tenth and Eleventh Centuries. He additionally draws attention to the text’s use of polyptoton—repeating words with the same root—, matching the melody’s use of recurrent motifs:

Melodic phrases correspond most consistently at their ends, and so, too, do the petitions: all but three petitions (2, 5, and 8) close with eleison. Other words appear twice in the text: Nostras…voces (petition 2) recurs exactly (petition 7), and both times it occurs in a construction that separates these two words by placing others between them. Several word stems recur in different forms, thus establishing a kind of resonance without the bald effect of exact repetition: rector (petition 1) returns both as rege (petition 4) and as rex (petition 5); nostris (petition 2) returns as noster and nostri (petition 3), and nostras (petitions 5 and 7); trine et une (petition 5) returns as tripertite et une (petition 9); preces (petition 5) returns as precamur (petition 9); and aeterne (petition 1) returns as aeternum (petition 9).

Clemens rector also gives good expression to the exegesis of the Kyrie performed by Amalarius of Metz, one of the foremost liturgists of the Carolingian era. In his Eclogae de officio missae, Amalarius rather laconically puts forth the idea that the Kyrie represents the voices of those prophets who lived near the time of the incarnation, such as Zacharias and John the Baptist, and in the Liber officialis he explains in greater detail that mercy is the main theme of the Kyrie, urging cantors singing the Kyrie to keep in mind the words of St Matthew, Qui coronat te in miseratione et misericordia. He also indicates—and later writers made this point more explicitly—that the tripartite nature of the Kyrie alludes to the Trinity.

Indeed the petitionary nature of Clemens rector makes it sound like the voice of a prophet begging Christ to begin his work of redemption: nostras … voces exaudi (petition 2), sedulas nostras preces suscipe (petition 5), tu succurre (petition 6), sophiae tuae lumen infunde (petition 8), te precamur omnes assidue (petition 9), together with the recurrent use of eleison. Like a prophet forsaking earthly cares, the trope marks an opposition between sublunar and heavenly things in petition 7: et nostras, redemptor orbis terrae, voces iugi angelorum carmini adiunge. Although this trope does not explicitly address each member of the Trinity in its three respective parts like some other tropes do, it does insist on the trinitarian nature of God in petitions 5 and 9.

Clemens rector is therefore itself a commentary on the mystical significance of the Kyrie eleison. This exegetical nature is ultimately shared by all tropes, which merely transfer the Western genius for exegesis from written commentaries to song. The Clemens rector gloss on the Kyrie, however, is a particularly felicitous one, and this also helps to account for widespread popularity.

(If you missed the inaugural post on tropes, give it a look!)


*Marginalia Aelredi*

(scribbled hastily in the vulgar tongue, in the top right corner)
Les tropes? Encore une fois? Mais on y a trop des tropes déjà!!


drollery 2.jpg
Notkerus Balbulus

On the Canonical Chapter of Lyons

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Lyons

The canonical chapter of St John’s Cathedral in Lyons long distinguished itself as one of the most powerful and most liturgically dedicated cathedral chapters in Christendom. It was principally due to the efforts of these canons, who had to learn the entire Office by heart in order to be accepted into the chapter, that the mediæval Lyonese use survived until the 18th century. In this extract, the eminent liturgist Archdale King describes the characteristics of the Lyonese chapter:

The Church of Lyons has been distinguished through the centuries for its loyalty to liturgical tradition. St. Bernard (ob. 1153) in his reproof to its canons for their adoption of a new feast (Conception of our Lady) reminds them of their customary conservatism: ‘Among all the churches of France the church of Lyons is well known to be pre-eminent for its dignity, sound learning, and praiseworthy customs. Where was there ever so flourishing strict discipline, grave conduct, ripe counsels, and such an imposing weight of authority and tradition? Especially in the offices of the Church, has this church, so full of judgement, appeared cautious in adopting novelties, and careful never to permit its reputation to be sullied by any childish levity.’

A similar homage was paid to the Church of Lyons in the 17th century by Cardinal Bona (ob. 1674): ‘A Church which knows nothing of novelties, clinging tenaciously, in the matter of chant and ceremonies, to ancient tradition.’

This laudable conservatism was due in great measure to the unprecedented authority exercised by the canons. In the 12th century, they numbered seventy-two in remembrance of the disciples of our Lord, but after a certain amount of fluctuation their numbers were reduced to thirty-two by a charter of King Philip V in 1321. This arrangement was confirmed by a bull of Clement VI (1342-52) in 1347. In 1173, the canons of the primatial church of St. John had been granted the temporal jurisdiction of the city by Guy, count of Forez, and at the same time the title of ‘count’ was conferred on them. Lyons came under the control of the king of France in 1312, but Philip the Fair expressly maintained the nobility of the canons, who, in 1745, were authorized by Louis XV to wear a cross of white enamel over their mozettas. This qualification of ‘count’ ceased with the Revolution, but the cross is still worn. Spiritual authority was in no way impaired by the loss of temporal power. In 1230, the chapter even defied the Pope by declining the proposal of Gregory IX (1227-41) that Peter of Savoy should become one of their number. Peter, however, accepted the non placet of the canons, and consoled himself with marriage! When Innocent IV (1243-54) in 1244 expressed his intention of appointing personally to certain of the prebendal stalls, the canons told him that his nominees would be thrown in to the Saône, if they presented themselves.

Other officers in the primatial church included four guardians (two for the parish and two for the cathedral), representing the four evangelists; seven knights for the Apocalyptic ‘seven spirits of fire’ [1]; thirteen perpetual chaplains in place of Christ and the apostles [2]; forty assistant priests; twenty inferior clerics; and twenty-four altar and choir boys. In addition to these, the statues of 1330 mention one hundred and twenty supernumeraries. There were altogether one hundred and thirty persons in the choir.

The archbishop ranked as a ‘perpetual’, and, although accorded reverence by reason of his office, his powers were limited. He pontificated no more than four times in the year—Christmas, Holy Thursday, Easter, and Pentecost. Like the canons, he took an oath to keep, respect, and defend the rights and privileges of the chapter, and, although the dean vacated his stall for him, the primate, when in chapter, did not appear in pontificals. It was the capitular cross, not that of the metropolitan, which was carried before him at ceremonies. A cleric had taken the archbishop’s cross at the threshold of the cloister, and ‘hidden’ it behind the altar, until such time as he had quitted the primatial church. The archbishop exercised authority over the chapter in the time of Leidrade and Agobard, but by the 13th century he was no more than the first of the perpetual chaplains [3], and he was to be little more than a ‘guest’ in his own cathedral church until the 18th century. Attendance at choir was strictly enforced, and an absentee was precluded from assisting at the capitular Mass on the following day. When the archbishop pontificated, it was necessary for him to officiate at first Vespers, and, if he failed to do so, the dean took his place at the altar. In 1743, on the occasion of the jubilee of the church (St. John), Cardinal de Tencin went to see a display of fireworks, and in consequence absented himself from Matins on the following day without the permission of the chapter, whereupon the canons refused to allow him to assist at either Mass or Vespers. So late at 1757, it was the chapter, not the archbishop, who gave faculties for the hearing of confessions in the churches of St. John, St. Stephen, and Holy Cross.

The jealous attachment to rights and privileges, with a constant fear lest they should be infringed by the archbishop, is signified by the two crosses which may be seen today against the wall behind the high altar: ‘When the archbishop raises his cross, the canons raise theirs on the other side.’ This must surely be the explanation of the two crosses, rather than a reminder of the union of the Western and Eastern Churches at the second council of Lyons in 1274, when the Latin and Greek crosses were set up behind the altar during the solemn Mass celebrated by Pope Gregory X. In the last quarter of the 18th century we find a denial of the privileges of the chapter, and they were also rescinded by the Parliament of Paris. About this time also, the archbishop, Mgr. de Montazet, substituted the neo-Gallican missal of Paris for the authentic Roman missal of Leidrade and Agobard.

[1] These knights were incorporated into the ranks of the clergy in the 16th century.

[2] The perpetual chaplains had charge of the chant and ceremonies, and also the maintenance of the secular traditions of the church. They were at one time removable, and a change in this respect may have caused them to be styled ‘perpetual’.

[3] Tredecim capellanos perpetuos inter quos et praecipuus Archiepiscopus, qui representat Dominum Jesum Christum inter apostolos existentem. Stat. 1337.

Archdale A. King. Liturgies of the Primatial Sees. Longmans, Green and Co, 1957, pp. 18-21.

Gemma Animae (6): De curru Dei

Ch. 6

On God’s Chariot.

ezekiels-vision-of-chariot-in-sky-c614-bc-bible-ezekiel-ii9-one-modern-D96B29While the choir sings, the bishop goes forth as if driven on a chariot, for it is written that the chariot of God is attended by ten thousands, and the bishop’s retinue is divided into ten orders, namely: the first order are the porters; the second, the lectors; the third, the exorcists; the fourth, acolytes; the fifth, the subdeacons; the sixth, the deacons; the seventh, the presbyters; the eighth, the cantors; the ninth, the laymen; the tenth, the women. Thus Christ came into the world, while the choir of prophets sang, driven on the chariot of Scripture, accompanied by the orders of saints.

The cantors welcome the bishop as he enters with the Gloria Patri, and the angels received Christ as he was born with the Gloria in excelsis. The two choirs sing praises together, because two peoples—to wit, the Jews and the Gentiles—ran to meet Christ with praises.

In the Introit chant, the Church’s praise is taken up by the Jews; in the Kyrie eleyson withal, the Church’s praise is taken up by the Gentiles. In the Gloria in excelsis, however, both sing praise together faithful to the Trinity in order to secure a dignity equal to that of the angels.

In the Introit, too, we are shown the order of patriarchs, who foretold the coming of Christ. The prophetic verse signifies the order of prophets, who signalled the birth of Christ. The Gloria Patri commemorates the order of apostles, who preach that Christ has already come, and who expound the Trinity to the Church. The repetition of the Introit alludes to the order of doctors, who announce that Christ will come again as a judge.

Further, the Kyrie eleyson proclaims the peoples of diverse tongues by whom Christ is praised, together with the angels, in the Gloria in excelsis.

De curru Dei.

Interim dum chorus cantat, episcopus quasi in curru vectus ad solemnitatem vadit, quia currus Dei decem millibus multiplex legitur, et comitatus episcopi decem ordinibus distinguitur, scilicet: Primus ordo, sunt ostiarii; secundus, lectores; tertius, exorcistae; quartus, acolythi; quintus, subdiaconi; sextus, diaconi; septimus, presbyteri; octavus, cantores; nonus, laici; decimus, feminae. Ita Christus mundum intravit, dum prophetarum chorus cecinerunt, curru Scripturae vectus, sanctorum ordinibus comitatus. Cantores venientem episcopum cum Gloria Patri excipiunt, et angeli Christum advenientem cum Gloria in excelsis susceperunt. Duo chori laudes concinunt, quia duo populi scilicet Iudaei et gentiles Christo advenienti cum laudibus occurrerunt. Per cantum Introitus, accipitur laus Ecclesiae de Iudaeis; per Kyrie eleyson vero laus Ecclesiae de gentibus. Per Gloria in excelsis autem utriusque concors laudatio in fide Trinitatis pro adipiscenda aequalitate angelicae dignitatis. Per introitum quoque ordo patriarcharum nobis repraesentatur, per quos Christus venturus praefigurabatur. Per versum propheticum ordo prophetarum insinuatur, per quos Christus nasciturus pronuntiabatur. Per Gloria Patri ordo apostolicus commemoratur, per quos Christus iam venisse praedicatur, a quibus et Trinitas Ecclesiae insinuatur. Per introitum secundo repetitum ordo doctorum notatur per quos Christus adhuc venturus ad iudicium narratur. Porro per Kyrie eleyson diversarum linguarum populi declarantur, a quibus Christus in Gloria in excelsis cum angelis collaudatur.