The Greek Sequence of St Dionysius

Dionysius 7
Yves de Saint-Denis, Life and Martyrdom of St. Denis and His Companions Source: gallica.bnf.fr. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Manuscrits, Français 2090, fol. 107v.

As we saw on Friday, for centuries the Abbey of St-Denys used to celebrate the Octave Day of its patron with a Mass where all the sung portions were in Greek. The translation of the sequence Gaude prole Grecia, attributed to both King Robert the Pious and Adam of St-Victor, is especially remarkable for its successful effort to preserve the metrical structure needed to fit the text to the melody.

prose
Click here for the full sequence.

Beginning with the new Parisian missal promulgated by the Lord Archsbishop François de Harlay in 1684, the neo-Gallican liturgical books that festered in France during the Enlightenment Age altered this sequence to expunge any connection between St Dionysius the Areopagite and St Dionysius of Paris. The Abbey of St-Denys, however, remained firm in defending the Greek origins of its patron, and sung the original text until the Revolution.

Dionysius 1

 

Ἑλλὰς, ἐν τέκνῳ χαῖρε·
Γαλλία περίσσευε
Ἐν πατρὶ Διονύσῳ.

Ἀγαλλιάσθω πλέον
Παρίσιος, εὐσχήμων
Ὁσίου τῷ θανάτῳ.

Χαρὰν μέιζονα χαίρῃ
Εὐδάιμων συνουσίη
Μαρτύρων παρουσίᾳ.

Ἐφ’ ὧν συνηγορίῃ
Πᾶσα καυχᾶται χώρη,
Ἀρχῆς ἐστιν οὐσία.

Πρὸς γονῆα κείμε νοι
Στρατιῶται δόκιμοι
Μνήμης λάχον ἄξια.

Ἀλλὰ τουτονὶ πάντως
Σέβεται διηνεκῶς
Βασιλὶς Ἐκκλησία.

Ἀπὸ τ’ Ἀρχιερέως
Πεμφθεὶς εὶς Γαλατίαν,
Ἀπίστου τοῦ ἔθνεος
Οὐ φοβεῖται μανίαν.

Ὁ Γάλλων Ἀπόστολος
Ἦλθεν εἰς Λουτηκίαν
Ἣν κατέσχε δόλιος
Ἐχθρὸς ὡς τὴν ἰδίαν.

Τὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ ναὸν κτίζει,
Ἅπασιν εὐαγγελίζει,
Τοῖς σημείοις φανερός.

Ὄχλος πιστεῖ, πλάνη φεύγει,
Πίστις αὔξει, καὶ αὐγάζει
Τ’ οὔνομ’ Ἀρχιερέως.

Πυθόμενος δὲ μαίνεται
Δομίτιος, καὶ πέμπεται
Ἄφρονα Σισίννιον.

Ὃς ἕλκει ποιμένα ψυχῶν,
Ζωῇ, τέρασιν ἔνδοξον,
Εἰς τὸ δεσμοτήριον.

Πρεσβύτερος πάσχει δίκας,
Φυλακὴν, δεσμὰ, μάστιγας,
Καταστὴν, στρῶμα σιδηρὸν,
Νικᾷ καῦσον ἔμπυρον.

Εὐχῇ δαμάζει θηρία,
Σταυρὸν ἔτλη, καὶ τὰ πῦρα,
Μετὰ πληγὰς ἐς σκοτεινὸν
Ἄγεται τὸ σπήλαιον.

Πρεσβυτέρου λειτουργοῦντος,
Τοῦ ὄχλου περιεστῶτος,
Χριστὸς ἦλθε, περιόντος
Οὐρανίης στρατίας.

Ἄρτῳ ζωῆς δεδεσμένον
Ἐβόσκησε τὸν ἅγιον,
Δόξης κοινωνησόμενον
Ἐν πόλῳ ἀϊδίας.

Ἴεται μαχησόμενος,
Ὑπὸ τὸ ξίφος ἄφοβος,
Ὁ μὲν παίων, ὁ δὲ νικῶν
Στεφανοῦται μαχάρᾳ.

Αὐτὸ νεκρὸν ἀνέστησε,
Κολοβὸς κεφαλὴν ᾖρε,
Ὅυ φερόντα προσήγαγε
Αγγέλων συνουσία.

Ὅσιον τὸ πάθημα
Ὑμνῶμεν εἰς αἱῶνα.

Ἀμήν. Ἀλληλούια.

Gaude prole Grecia,
Glorietur Gallia
Patre Dionysio.

Exultet uberius
Felici Parisius
Illustris martyrio.

Speciali gaudio
Gaude felix contio
Martyrum presentia.

Quorum patrocinio
Tota gaudet regio,
Regni stat potentia.

Iuxta Patrem positi,
Bellatores incliti
Digni sunt memoria.

Sed illum precipue
Recolit assidue
Regalis ecclesia.

Hic a summo presule
Directus ad Galliam,
Non gentis incredule
Veretur insaniam.

Gallorum apostolus,
Venerat Lutetiam,
Quam tenebat subdolus
Hostis velut propriam.

Hic constructo Christi templo,
Verbo docet et exemplo,
Coruscat miraculis.

Turba credit, error cedit,
Fides crescit, et clarescit
Nomen tanti presulis.

His auditis fit insanus
Immitis Domicianus,
Mittitque Sisinnium:

Qui pastorem animarum,
Fide, vita, signis clarum
Trahat ad supplicium.

Infliguntur seni pene,
Flagra, carcer et catene;
Catastam, lectum ferreum,

Et estum vincit igneum.
Prece domat feras truces,
Sedat rogum, perfert cruces:
Per clavos et patibulum
Translatus ad ergastulum.

Seniore celebrante
Missam, turba circumstante,
Christus adest, comitante
Celesti militia.

Specu clausum carcerali
Consolatur, et uitali
Pane cibat, immortali
Coronandum gloria.

Prodit Martyr conflicturus,
Sub securi stat securus:
Ferit lictor, sicque uictor

Consummatur gladio.
Se cadaver mox erexit,
Truncus truncum caput vexit,
Quo ferentem huc direxit
Angelorum legio.

Tam praeclara passio
Repleat nos gaudio.

Amen. Alleluia.

Rejoice, O Greece, in thy progeny;
Glory, O Gaul
In thy father Dionysius.

Exalt richly,
Lustrous Paris,
In the happy martyrdom.

With a special joy,
Rejoice, O happy assembly
In the presence of the martyrs.

Of whose patronage
The whole realm rejoiceth,
And on whom its power is founded.

Placed at the Father’s side,
These famous warriors,
Are worthy of remembrance.

But him especially
Recalleth with devotion
The royal church.

He, by the supreme Bishop
Directed to Gaul,
Never feared the madness
Of an infidel race.

The apostle of the Gauls
Came to Paris,
Whom the treacherous
Enemy held as his own.

Having built a temple to Christ,
He teacheth by word and deed,
He glittereth with miracles.

The multitude believeth, error recedeth,
Faith groweth, and gloweth
The name of such a great prelate.

Hearing this, cruel
Domitian rages,
And sends Sisinnius.

Who that pastor of souls,
So bright in faith, life, and miracles,
draggeth off to torture.

Punishments are inflicted on the old man,
Scourges, prison, and chains;
He conquereth scaffold, rack,
And scorching flames.

By prayer he tameth wild beasts,
Douseth pyres, and beareth crosses:
After nails and beams, he is
Transferred to hard labour.

As the old man celebrateth mass,
As the multitude crowdeth around him,
Christ is present,
Attended by the heavenly host.

He consoleth him
Imprisoned in a dungeon,
Feedeth him with life-giving bread,
To crown him with life everlasting.

The martyr goeth forth to battle,
Under the falling axe he standeth fearless,
The lictor striketh, and thus the champion is finished off by the sword.

Anon the corpse ariseth,
Beheaded, he taketh his stricken head,
And bearing, goeth forth
Guided by a host of angels

Let such a glorious passion
Fill us with joy.

Amen. Alleluia.

Dionysius 3
Unknown Artist
Martyrdom of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite
fresco, Church of Saint Michael, Vithkuq (Albania), 1712

 

 

Dionysius 2 (Complete Works, Palaiologos)
Portrait of Manuel II Palaeologus and his family, from a manuscript of St. Dionysius’s complete works sent by the emperor to the Abbey of St. Denis.

Two Sequences for the Liberation of Jerusalem

As we mentioned in our previous post on the feast of the Liberation of Jerusalem, it featured a magnificent sequence, Manu plaudant. This was the only new musical proper specifically developed for this Mass: the rest of the propers were lifted from the existing Gregorian repertory (unhappily, none of the surviving manuscripts contain the actual musical notation for this sequence). 

Sequences are closely related to tropes—and indeed first arose as tropes on the Alleluia—and are likewise best understood as exegetical commentaries on the mysteries being celebrated. Manu plaudant is thus a sort of musical version of the sermons and writings of Fulcher of Chartres, Ekkehard of Aura, and William of Tyre, all of whom, as we have seen, interpreted the triumphal entry of the Crusaders into Jerusalem as at once the literal fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaias and the anagogical foreshadowing of our ultimate entry into the heavenly Jerusalem. 

Manu plaudant omnes gentes ad nova miracula
Vicit lupos truculentos agnus sine macula.
Paganorum nunc est facta humilis superbia,
Quam reflexit virtus Dei ad nostra servicia,
O nova milicia!

Paucis multa milia sunt devicta.
Venit hec victoria a Christi potencia benedicta.
Ecce signum est levatum ab antiqua presignatum profecia
Quisque portat signum crucis dum requirit summi ducis loca pia.

Redde Sancta Civitas laudes Deo debitas
Ecce tui filii et filie de longinquo veniunt cotidie
Ad te porta gloriae pro culparum veniam
Ecce honor debitus est pro sepulcro redditus.
Quod profecia presciens sic loquitur et sepulcrum eius honorabitur.

Nunc munus persolvitur
Atque laudum ostia
Crucifixum adoremus
Per quem demonum videmus
Destructa imperia.
Adoremus resurgentem iter nobis facientem ad regna celestia
O imperator unice quod incoasti perfice
Ut sub tua custodia pax crescat et victoria
Fac Christianos crescere et impios tabescere
Ut regna subdat omnia tu omnipotentia. Amen.

Clap your hands, o ye nations, in praise of new miracles:
The lamb without stain hath vanquished fell wolves,
Humbled is now the pride of the paynim
Which God’s puissance hath handed over to our host,
O new knighthood!

Many thousands by few were defeated:
From Christ’s blessed power this victory hath come.
Lo! the ensign is raised aloft, foretold by ancient prophecy,
Each bears the ensign of the Cross, seeking the hollowed places of the most noble prince.

Holy city, render unto God His due praise!
Behold! thy sons and daughters come daily from afar
Unto thee, gateway of glory, for the remission of sins.
Behold! due homage is given to the sepulchre
For the foreseeing prophecy speaks thus: and his sepulchre shall be honoured.

Now discharged is the vow
And the offering of praises:
Let us adore the Crucified one
Through Whom we see destroyed
The empires of demons.
Let us adore the Risen one, Who makes a path for us unto the heavenly kindgom,
O Thou only Emperor, finish what Thou hast began,
That under Thy guard peace and victory might grow;
Make Christians flourish and the infidel pine away,
That Thine almighty power might all kingdoms subdue. Amen. 

exultent.png
The sequence Exultent agmina (Laon BN, MS 263)

Another sequence composed in commemoration of the liberation of Jerusalem, Exultent agmina, is found in a collection of liturgical and para-liturgical music belonging to cathedral of Notre-Dame de Laon. A feast de captione Iherusalem on 15 July was clearly celebrated in Laon at some point, for texts related thereto are found bestrewn in sundry liturgical books, although no single source contains the entirety of the Mass or Office. The celebration of this feast was doubtlessly motivated by the fact that many Crusaders came from this region; indeed, Guibert of Nogent, who penned an important history of the First Crusade, Dei gesta per Francos, lived in a nearby abbey, and himself composed a hymn in memory of the Crusader victory.

Exultent agmina
fidelium cuncta
laudes Deo canentia.Cuius sunt opera
Semper mirifica
Per ampla mundi spatia.Voce celsa,
mente simul defecata,
recolamus gaudia,
que nobis anni orbita
reducit celeberrima.

Cum civitas
Iherusalem gloriosa
effecta est libera
que Sarracenis fuerat
tamdiu tributaria.

Hinc Francorum
pangamus gesta fortia,
quorum probitate
sic est libertate
sub Domini potentia.

Letetur ergo
Christianis reddita,
quibus congaudet,
residens sede sua
iam imperat domina.

Cui tota Francia,
iam flectit genua
nec non Italia.

Iamiamque Grecia
fert ei munera
nec non Arabia.

Mesopotamia,
Egyptus, Affrica
regnaque cetera
transeunt sub ea.

Damascus, Ascalon,
Iope cum Acaron,
Tirus atque Sidon
mittunt ei dona.

Cuius agentes festa
Iherusalem in superna
perfruamur gloria.

Let all the bands
of the faithful rejoice
singing praises to God.Whose works
are ever marvellous
throughout the vast breadth of the world.With lofty voice
and shriven mind
let us recall the joys
which the most renowned course of the year
brings back to us.

For the glorious
city of Jerusalem
was made free,
which had been so long
subjected to the Sarracens.

And so let us record
the valiant deeds of the Franks
by whose prowess
she was thus freed
under the power of the Lord.

Hence let her rejoice,
returned to the Christians,
for whom she rejoices,
sitting on her seat,
now ruling as mistress.

To whom all France
now bends the knee,
and Italy withal.

Now Greece too,
offers her gifts,
and Arabia withal.

Mesopotamia,
Egypt, Africa,
and the rest of the kingdoms
cross under her.

Damascus, Ascalon,
Joppa and Acre,
Tyre and Sidon
send her gifts.

Celebrating her feast,
let us enjoy Jerusalem
in her heavenly glory. 

One of the other liturgical books of Laon containing material for the feast of the Liberation is a 12th-century missal that includes the collect Omnipotens Deus qui virtute used for the feast in Jerusalem itself. In a fascinating footnote to the story of Crusader feasts, after King St Louis’s conquest of Damietta on 6 June 1249, on an empty folio in this missal facing the collect, someone wrote down an adaptation thereof to commemorate the saintly king’s victory. Given the unhappy fortunes that followed, however, the feast of the Liberation of Damietta proved abortive.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui virtute tua mirabili Damietam civitatem fortissimam ac insanciam Christinissimi regis nostri Ludovici de manu paganorum liberasti et Christianis secondo reddidisti, adesto, quesumus, nobis propitius, et concede ut qui hanc liberationem pia devotione recolimus, ad superne felicitatis gaudia pervenire mereamur. Per Dominum. Almighty everlasting God, who by thy marvellous strength hast torn the most mighty city Damietta by the enterprise of our most Christian king Louis from the hands of the paynims and given it for a second time to the Christians, help us in thy mercy, we beseech thee, and grant that we who with pious devotion celebrate this liberation may deserve to attain the joys of the heavenly happiness. Through our Lord, &c.