New Years’ with the Canons of Sens (4): Mass and Second Vespers

We have been examining the riches of the Feast of the Circumcision as celebrated by the illustrious cathedral chapter of Sens, based on a MS. written under the auspices of the Lord Archbishop Peter of Corbeil. See the previous posts in this series: Introduction and First Vespers; Compline; Mattins, Lauds, & the Little Hours. This post will describe interesting elements in the Mass and Second Vespers of the feast.

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After Terce, the canons prepared for Mass, singing a carol while the celebrant readied himself. This jocund conductus ad presbyterum is a bit of a grammar lesson, for each stanza begins begins with the word dies in a different case: dies (nominative), diei (genitive), diei (dative), diem (accusative), dies (vocative), die (accusative). 


At Mass, as one might expect, each part of the Ordinary (Kyrie Clemens rector, Gloria II, Sanctus IV, Agnus Dei IV) was farced, even the Credo, whereof this is the sole attested example. The Gloria and Credo are troped in the style of the Pater noster and Apostles’ Creed at Compline and Prime, i.e. the text and music of each trope-line is a quotation, textual and musical from another liturgical piece. 

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With respect to the musical propers, however, only the Gradual includes a short trope in the form of a prose; the Sequence Laetabundus follows the Alleluia. 

While the subdeacon prepares to read the epistle, the rest of the canons sang the famous carol Lux optata, and the epistle itself, sung to a special melody, alternates with a trope, most probably intoned by another cleric. The tropes are, like those of the the Gloria and Credo, textually and musically centonized.

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While the deacon readies himself to sing the gospel, the canons again sing a conductus, and although the gospel is not farced, it is sung to special tone:

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 Second Vespers

The canons were surely quite exhausted when time came for second Vespers, and so, after the solemn Deus, in adjutorium sung to the same melody as in First Vespers, they sang the hymn (curiously placed at the beginning), antiphons, and psalms without any tropes. Gaude Maria Virgo was the responsory sung after chapter, and here they did sing all the verses of this particularly prolix piece, concluding with the Marian prose Inviolata, which was extremely popular in the Middle Ages. A short sequence replaced the versicle, as at the other hours.

For the Magnificat, withal, the canons exerted one last effort, for it is set to four different antiphons! O beata infantia, they began, and followed with the first verse of Our Lady’s canticle. Then they sang the antiphon O gratissimi, followed by the second verse; then the antiphon O felices panni, followed by the third first; and then O presepe, with a long melisma of the O, and the fourth verse. They repeated each of these four antiphons after each verse until the Sicut erat, after which they rejoiced with a melismatic Alleluia.

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The MS. then provides three additional conductus, one to be sung while the bacularius (the head cantor, so-called because he held a staff, baculus) prepared himself for an office; one to be sung at an apéritif; and one for lunch. 

At the end of the MS. is an appendix containing special troped melodies for the epistles of the Masses of St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents, all of them centonized. 

See the other posts in this series:

1. A Feast of Fools?: First Vespers
2. Compline
3. Mattins, Lauds, and the Little Hours
5. Why the Office of Peter of Corbeil was Suppressed
6. A New Years’ Apéritif with the Canons of Sens

New Years’ with the Canons of Sens (3): Mattins, Lauds, and the Little Hours

Our previous posts describing First Vespers and Compline of the Feast of the Circumcision at the Cathedral of Sens, as codified by the Lord Archbishop Peter of Corbeil, have, we hope, helped our readers picture the centrality of liturgical celebration in mediæval communities. Long offices were no burden; to the contrary, they were much loved. After all, in the Age of Faith the church was “the common refuge of all, where all of social life resorted. A man prayed there, the town council met there, and the clock was the voice of the city.” Let us recall that

As impressive as Catholic ceremonies remain, they have lost much of their former magnificence. The influence of the Reformation in the 16th century, which gave rise to a religion reduced to its most simple expression, contributed to the impoverishment of the Catholic religion that strove against it, even while permitting an aesthetic element that addressed the soul by way of the senses. In the Middle Ages, everyone believed humbly. Everyone understood and loved the religious ceremonies, which were never too long or too magnificent for their taste. […] Feast days, which were much more numerous than today, were for the poor souls of this world… days of rest whose coming they welcomed with enthusiasm…What a joy to visit the neighboring abbey for a whole day of leisure, to contemplate the splendors of a worship that was at once prayer, teaching, and spectacle! How earnestly they wished these feasts to be many, and the offices to be long![1]


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The canons bestirred themselves right early the next morning in eager anticipation for the day’s liturgical festivities. The Night Office began as usual with the words Domine, labia mea aperies, but rather than the usual reciting tone, it is sung to the melody of an antiphon with the same words borrowed from Lauds of the Second Sunday of Lent. Similarly, the next verse, Deus, in adjutorium, is sung to the melody of the beginning of the Introit of the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, which is set to these same words. The Gloria Patri is sung to the Paschal tone of the Invitatory Psalm 94, although transposed from the sixth to the seventh mode to match the preceding.

It is remarkable that each of the three Nocturns begins with a proper Invitatory. Some 18th-century liturgists such as Jean Lebeuf surmised that this was an atavism, recalling the time when each Nocturn was sung separately. There is, however, no indication in this MS. that the Nocturns were separated, and the plethora of Invitatories is more likely meant to add solemnity rather than recall an archaic practice. Each of these Invitatories is followed by a hymn, all of which are actually sequences borrowed from Mass, presumably because the ancient repertoire had no proper hymns for the Feast of the Circumcision itself. As at First Vespers, sequences from Mass are also substituted for the versicles in each Nocturn. 

The nine responsories are mostly the same as in the Tridentine breviary, with some variations also found in other French uses. 

In the MS., a conductus ad ludos follows Mattins. This was a charming Christmas carol sung by the canons as they made their way to the performance of a musical play on a Scriptural subject. No more information exists on what was performed in Sens, but in the Cathedral of Beauvais in the 13th century, the Ludus Danielis was performed after Matins of the Circumcision. The chanting of the Te Deum concluded this liturgical drama.

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Lauds and the Little Hours

The rest of the Offices proceeded on similar lines. At Lauds, the antiphons and psalms are as in the Tridentine breviary, but, as in Mattins, the hymn and versicle are replaced by sequences. A jolly Benedicamus Domino hymn finishes off the hour.

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Prime begins with the Deus, in adjutorium set to the melody of the same Introit as at Mattins, but from Domine, ad adjuvandum, a recitation tone takes over, curiously on the first mode transposed, even though the Introit melody is of the seventh mode; the result is not too felicitous. The Alleluia is a short melisma. 

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Then two clerics standing in front of the altar intone the epicletic sequence Veni, sancte Spiritus, at the words Ignem accende the choir joins in with a spectacular melisma interspersed into the sequence’s original melody. This melogenic trope was otherwise used at Sens to enhance responsories on solemnities. Only after this sequence is the usual hymn of Prime sung, troped with the exultatory words Fulget dies! Fulget dies ista!

As at Compline, the words of the usual versicle for Prime are used as the basis for a short hymn, and the same festive preces—farced Kyrie, farced Pater, farced Apostles’ Creed —follow. The canons held their chapter office after Prime as usual.

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Trope of a trope: The “versicle” at Terce is a prose-trope on the verse Regnum tuum solidum permanebit in aeternum, itself a trope on the Gloria. This prose was often sung at Childermass; in the cathedral of Salisbury, for instance, it was sung during the boy-bishop ceremony on the eve of the feast.

Terce, Sext, and None all feature a short sequence replacing the usual versicle and a Benedicamus hymn at the end. They are otherwise as in the Tridentine breviary.

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The Benedicamus hymn at the end of None.

See the other posts in this series:

1. A Feast of Fools?: First Vespers
2. Compline
4. Mass and Second Vespers
5. Why the Office of Peter of Corbeil was Suppressed
6. A New Years’ Apéritif with the Canons of Sens


[1] Marius Sepet, Le drame chrétien au moyen age, Paris, Didier, 1878, p. 21 et seq.

New Years’ with the Canons of Sens (2): Compline

We now continue our discussion of the Feast of the Circumcision as it was celebrated by the canons of the illustrious Cathedral of Sens in the High Middle Ages. The rich euchological and musical variety we have seen at First Vespers sets the tone for the rest of the office’s cursus. 

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Ivory panels covering Pierre Corbeil’s Office for the Circumcision, sometimes misunderstood to be a Feast of Fools



At Compline, the canons sang the psalms to the antiphon Magnum nomen Domini Emmanuel, which, with the variant incipit Ecce nomen Domini, is attested from the 8th century. The jaunty melody of this antiphon proved so popular among the layfolk it was sung outside its liturgical context as a Christmas carol well into the 19th century. 

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The carol Magnum nomen Domini in the Manuale cantorum published in Liège in 1810.

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The versicle Custodi nos is farced into a short hymn, and the Candlemas processional responsory Responsum accepit Symeon is cleverly adapted into an antiphon for the Nunc dimittis. Normally the conclusion of the office would follow, but here festivity overcomes sleepiness, and the canons sing on. Perhaps unexpectedly, however, these additions to the usual course of Compline are based on the penitential preces added to Compline during Septuagesima and Lent, although enlivened with festive melodies and tropes. 

Immediately after Simeon’s canticle, the canons intone the prolix antiphon Media vita, attributed to Bl. Notker the Stammerer. In Sens and other places, this was also sung at the end of Compline on the Saturday before Lent, and elsewhere it features in offices and processions during Lent (it was not received by the Tridentine Office). 

On Saturday before Lent, this was followed by the Kyrie eleison cum precibus and then the Pater noster. On the Circumcision, the Kyrie was sung to a melody borrowed from Mass (XII of the Vatican ed.) with the trope Pater cuncta, and then two subdeacons alternately sung a farced Pater noster, one of only about 20 such tropes to survive. 

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The melody of this version of the Lord’s prayer is a strikingly odd and not entirely felicitous patchwork of quotations, as it were, from other Gregorian pieces, and so it jarringly meanders through different modes. For instance, the first trope line, Fidem auge, is set to the tune of the first and three invocations to Christ of the Kyrie Clemens rector, which this MS. in fact assigns to the Mass to be celebrated the next morning. Later on, the lines Panem nostrum are set to the melody of the line Domine Deus from Gloria II (Vat. ed.), and when it comes to the words Et dimitte nobis, the melody reverts to that for the conclusion of the Pater noster at Mass. Finally, the concluding trope line is set to a popular eighth-mode melisma, also found, e.g., for the Benedicamus Domino at II Vespers of solemnities in Solesmes’ 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum.  

The canons then took up the responsory In pace, which was also sung at Compline of Saturday before Lent in Sens, and at the little hours during Lent in other dioceses.

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This is followed by a piece of singular interest: the sole attested musical setting of the Apostle’s Creed, and, moreover, it is troped (it is found in a few other sources, e.g., Laon BM 263). The Creed itself is set to a simple recitation tone, but the tropes are set, like the preceding Pater noster, to tunes from other, presumably well-known, pieces. As with the Pater noster, the Creed is sung alternately, with one cleric (in this case, a priest) singing the words of the Symbol and the other the tropes. 

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The sources for the tropes of the farced Apostles’ Creed (from Western Plainchant: A Handbook by David Hiley.)

After these preces, the office concludes with its usual collect and a Benedicamus Domino troped into a hymn.

See the other posts in this series:

1. A Feast of Fools?: First Vespers
3. Mattins, Lauds, and the Little Hours
4. Mass and Second Vespers
5. Why the Office of Peter of Corbeil was Suppressed
6. A New Years’ Apéritif with the Canons of Sens

New Years with the Canons of Sens (1): A Feast of Fools?

Urge recristianizar las fiestas y costumbres populares. Urge evitar que los espectáculos públicos se vean en esta disyuntiva: o ñoños o paganos. Pide al Señor que haya quien trabaje en esa labor de urgencia, que podemos llamar «apostolado de la diversión».

Fr Josemaría Escrivá, Camino

We have previously written about a remarkable MS. that seems to record the steps for a festive dance performed by the precentor of the Cathedral Chapter of Sens two days a year. The Cathedral of St Étienne de Sens was indeed renowned during the Middle Ages as a centre of liturgical excellence, both for the perfection of its ceremonies and, especially, of its chant. By the 13th century, the sobriquet li chanteor de Sens (“the cantors of Sens”) had become the proverbial byname for the city, such was the fame of its ecclesiastical singing.[1]

Thus in one of the first printed chant-books published by the church of Sens for the use of its entire ecclesiastical province, the Precentor did not hesitate to boast in the preface:

“Throughout all Gaul, the most holy Metropolitan Church of Sens shines with such dignity and excels with such grand majesty in the symphony of its divine offices, that none could deem them anywhere else more beautiful, more holy, more admirable, and (insofar as it pertains to the divine mystery) closer to the example of antiquity.”

During the High Middle Ages, the splendor of the Senonese cathedral liturgy was at full display on the Feast of the Circumcision, which Henri Villetard, a 19th-century canon of Sens, called “the seal of the musical glory of this ancient Metropolis.” It has been preserved in MS. 46 of the Bibliothèque Municipale de Sens, an extravagantly bound tome with two antique ivories, which has since the 16th century been known under the misnomer Missel or Office des Fous.


Throughout all mediæval France, the joys of the Christmas season elicited particularly playful liturgies, especially on the kalends of January. The ensemble of these sprawling festivities became known as the Feast of Fools. The excesses that unsurprisingly tarnished such celebrations often drew the condemnation of censorious ecclesiarchs, but one looks in vain for such infelicities in Sens, MS. 46. The book simply contains the music for the entire Office and Mass for the Feast of the Circumcision, albeit heavily troped, with paraliturgical songs pertaining to the same, all under the straightforward heading Circumcisio Domini. The picture it paints is certainly one of exuberant merry-making, but all of it conveyed through ritual, and what better medium of expression for the legitimate rejoicing of the plebs sancta Dei?

The MS. in question has been traditionally attributed to Peter of Corbeil, who ruled the see of Sens from 1200 to 1221. This cultivated prelate was a master of theology, who, while canon of Paris, counted among his pupils one Lothair of Segni, who in 1198 was exalted to the Petrine dignity under the name Innocent III. He duly promoted Peter to various posts, culminating in his appointment to govern Sens[2].

Peter was not only a noted theologian and philosopher but also a poet and musician. As archbishop he wrote an Office for the Assumption which was used in Sens as late as the 17th century. Some of its responsories have been published by Solesmes in Variae preces and the Processionale monasticum.

When he lent his talents to the Feast of the Circumcision, Peter was likely aiming to curb the immoderation that often marred the celebration of the Feast of Fools, providing both a decorous liturgical ritual and thereby a means of enticing the faithful away from the purely secular revels attached to the kalends of January. A similar approach to the issue had been taken in 1198 by Odo of Sully, bishop of Paris, and, as canon, Peter affixed his name to Odo’s decrees.


In his Office, Peter generally transcribed musical pieces that were already in use and are attested elsewhere, but he also appears to have taken the chance to incorporate songs of his own composition. These are, withal, of para-liturgical character; Sens would have scarcely tolerated innovations in the liturgical offices themselves.

Conductus ad Tabulam

The MS. opens with one of Peter’s compositions, to be sung in ianuis ecclesie (at the doors of the church) by the clerics as they entered before for Vespers on the evening of 31 December. The song is an exhortation to joy, inviting all to delight in the upcoming asinaria festa (Feast of the Ass). This forms the introduction to the song Orientis partibus, a veritable proto-Christmas carol. The clerics intoned this conductus—a paraliturgical processional hymn—as they made their way to the tabula, a tablet showing the ordo for the day, that everyone might know his role.


Orientis partibus is a jocular hymn addressed to an ass. It was sung in numerous mediæval Christmastide pageants which featured the ass who bore Our Lady to Egypt, but in Peter’s version, an additional stanza makes it clear it is addressed to the ass who bore the magi to Bethlehem. In the cathedral of Beauvais, a pageant was performed before Mass, as a maiden holding a child and riding an ass was escorted to the church, but in Sens there is no evidence of any visual representation of the animal. It was merely a well-known seasonal tune, with a ludic melody to which the layfolk sang the refrain, Hez, sir Asne, hez!—the only words in the vernacular in Peter’s Office.[3]

First Vespers


After reading the tabula, the celebrant began the Deus in adiutorium meum intende, farced so as to become a hymn with three rhyming quatrains. It was not uncommon for the Benedicamus Domino at the conclusion of the Office to be troped into a hymn, as we shall discuss hereafter, but this is one of the two instances where the introduction to the Office undergoes this treatment.

Commentators have noted the rich musical variety in Peter’s Office. The two introductory songs are of “markedly un-Gregorian”[4] character, but the Deus in adiutorium hymn is set to a more typically Gregorian melody.

The alleluya of the invocation is troped as well in the form of a prose (prosa, in the MS.), i.e. a sequence: the word itself is split in half, so that the seven verses of the prose are inserted between alle and luya. The playful structure thus imitates the gay verses which call for the entire church to resound with sweet harmonies in praise of the son of Mary, that the Holy Ghost might fill all the faithful with gifts and glory. Other instances exist of such proses inserted into the alleluia, which drew especial rebuke from grim later liturgists[5]. This particular prose also appears in a 13th century Ordo pontificalis from Sens (B. M., MS. 12) inserted as a trope into the Marian antiphon Alma Redemptoris Mater. The melody, although somewhat reminiscent of the merry introductory songs in its rhythm, is based on that for the termination of 6th-mode responsories once used in Sens, and is hence firmly Gregorian. 

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A musical interlude postpones the commencement of the psalmody and invites the faithful to consider the intimate connection between the incarnation and birth of Our Lord and His death and resurrection. According to the rubric, “four or five” clerics begin the versus Hec est clara dies singing in falso, retro altare. In order words it was sung in fauxbourdon, using a three-part harmony with two or three tenors, a countertenor, and a descant, which was sung an octave higher than written in falsetto.[6] The Verse is borrowed from a chant sung in the procession back from the baptismal fonts during the special Vespers of Easter Day and its octave.

Then two or three clerics in front of the altar respond, in unison, singing the verse Salue festa dies, a pastiche of Venantius Fortunatus’s famous Paschal hymn adapting it to the Christmas season. Then all join in singing the sequence Letemur gaudiis.[7]


Finally, the clerics sing in organum the versus Christus manens quod erat, set to the melody of one of the stock melismas added to the end of responsories on the most solemn feasts.

Only now does the usual psalmody begin, with no tropes or special melodies. The antiphons, though ancient, are not those preserved in the Tridentine breviary for this feast, and the five psalms are those of Christmas Vespers rather than Vespers of Our Lady.[8] The chapter (Isaias 9:2) again differs from the Tridentine one, and is sung to a special solemn melody:


Many mediæval uses sang a prolix responsory after the chapter on first Vespers of major feasts, a custom that has not been preserved in the Tridentine books, but is kept in uses such as the monastic, Dominican, and Carthusian. Here the responsory is particularly long, with several verses, the last of which is farced with three different proses.

It is interesting that Peter’s office does not indicate that a hymn is sung at this point. It might be an archaic feature, since hymns were introduced into the Roman office at a fairly late period. But since the other offices of this feast do include a hymn, one cannot help but wonder whether Peter here made a singular concession to brevity. Indeed, although the next piece is oddly dubbed a versiculus, it is it fact it is a long, hymn-like sequence originally sung as a trope to the Hosanna of the Sanctus at Mass.


The Magnificat is sung as usual, with an ancient antiphon that differs from the Tridentine one. The Benedicamus Domino is the occasion for a final hymn produced by troping both the verse and response. Several such Benedicamus tropes in the form of hymns survive, which were sung on the greatest feasts as a last outburst of gaiety before the conclusion of an office. In Laon, in fact, the feast of Epiphany was the occasion for a completorium infinitum, so-called on account of a rubric at the end of Compline that indicates tot Benedicamus quot novit quisque canamus, “let as sung as many Benedicamus [songs] as we know!” Puer natus in Bethlehem and O filiæ et filiæ are two such Benedicamus tropes still sung to-day.


See the other posts in this series:

2. Compline
3. Mattins, Lauds, and the Little Hours
4. Mass and Second Vespers
5. Why the Office of Peter of Corbeil was Suppressed
6. A New Years’ Apéritif with the Canons of Sens


[1] According to the 13th-century chronicler Galvaneus Flamma, the cultivation of Gregorian chant in Sens dates back to the reign of Charlemagne who, intent on promoting the use of the chant of the city of Rome throughout his empire, founded three schools of chant, one in Metz, the other in Sens, and the third in Orléans. Although some have cast doubt on the accuracy of this late source, the musical traditions of Sens were surely ancient, and jealously guarded, for, as another saying went, Ecclesia Senonensis nescit novitates (The Church of Sens knows no novelty). The Archdiocese of Sens, moreover, numbered amongst its suffragans the dioceses of Paris (until 1622), Chartres, Orléans, Nevers, and Auxerre, and amongst its abbeys St-Denys, Ferrières, Fleury, St-Germain d’Auxerre, and St-Pierre-le-Vif, all of which looked to their metropolitan see for liturgical direction.

[2] The Lord Peter was also close to King Philip Augustus, and when Pope and King came to be at odds, Peter tended to favour the latter, prompting Innocent to complain, Ego te episcopavi, which prompted Peter to retort, Et ego te papavi.

[3] Although in some places, the vernacular was sometimes used during Christmastide offices such as the Feast of St Stephen.

[4] David Hiley, Western Plainchant, p. 42

[5] E.g. Jean-Baptiste Le Brun des Marettes, who, in his Voyages liturgiques de France, wrote with respect to sequences, “One must not regret their loss too much, for most were nothing more than pitiful rhapsodies, such us the use that begins Alle necnon et perenne cœleste luia” (p. 168).

[6] The indication that the music was sung behind the altar may allude to the representation of a crib placed there on Christmas Day, as was done in Rouen for the performance of a liturgical drama featuring the shepherds. The rubrics of this MS., however, offers no evidence for this supposition.

[7] Originally a trope on the concluding melisma of the second verse of the Offertory Deus enim firmavit of the second Mass of Christmas composed by Bl. Notker the Stammerer. The piece proved popular and was sung outside its original context. In Paris, bishop Odo also appointed it to Vespers of the Circumcision.

[8] I.e. psalms 109, 110, 111, 129, and 131 rather than 109, 112, 121, and 126 as in the Tridentine office.

A Farced Epistle of Saint Stephen in Old Provençal

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Tropes are a genre of liturgical pieces that enjoyed some success in the Middle Ages, and in this genre, the species of farced Epistles and Gospels.[1] These were readings of the Mass in which the text of sacred Scripture is punctuated, verse after verse, by either a Latin paraphrase or a translation into the vernacular. The paraphrase or translation constitutes the farce of the Scripture text. The farce usually takes a musical and verse form.

For the feast of St. Stephen (26 December) many farced epistles of this kind have come down to us: one in langue d’oïl, Oyez trestout, of which there exists a translation in Langue d’oc, Entendes tug, and another known only from various Occitan versions and which we will designate by the incipit of one of them, Sesta lesson.”[2]

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See the rest of the manuscript here (pp. 140 et sqq.).

Leis planchs de Sant Esteve is the rhymed history in old Provençal of the martyrdom of St Stephen. It is taken from the Epistle of his feast day and, since time immemorial, it is sung every year on the feast day, at 7 in the morning, in the Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence at High Mass, which is called the Mass of the People. Attendance is surprisingly great, and the Mass is celebrated in a chapel dedicated to this same saint in the following way. When the time comes for the Epistle, a cleric, dressed in his choir dress, goes up to the preaching pulpit. The subdeacon of the Mass stands in front of it. After saluting each other (which they do again after they have finished), they sing in alternation: the subdeacon sings part of the day’s Epistle in a special tone, and the cleric in the pulpit follows with a couplet from the planchs to the melody of the Veni Creator. M. Raynouard published the planchs as they were written in 1318.”[3]

Translation from the 1318 version.

Sit down, my Lords, and be at peace,
Hearken well to what I will say.
For the lesson is true,
No word therein is falsehood.
Sezes, Senhors, e aias pas,
So que direm ben escoutas:
Car la lisson es de vertat,
Non hy a mot de falssetat.
A Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.

This lesson which we will read
We take from the deeds of the Apostles,
We will recount the sayings of Saint Luke,
We will speak of Saint Stephen.

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.

Esta lisson que ligirem
Dels fachs dels Apostols trayrem;
Lo dich San Luc recontarem,
De Sant Esteve parlarem.

In those days.

In that time when God was born,
And was resurrected from death,
And then went up into heaven,
Saint Stephen was stoned.

In diebus illis.

En aquel temps que Dieus fom nat
Et fom de mort ressuscitat,
Et pueys el cel el fom puiat,
Sant Esteve fom lapidat.

Stephen, full of grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.

Hear ye, my Lords, for what reason
The wicked men stoned him,
For they saw that God was in him,
And he performed miracles by His gift.

Stephanus plenus gratia et fortitudine faciebat prodigia et signa magna in populo.

Auias, Senhors, per qual razon
Lo lapideron los fellons;
Car connogron Dieus en el fon,
Et fes miracle per son don.

But there arose some from the synagogue which is called that of the Freedmen, and of the Cyrenians and of the Alexandrians and of those from Cilicia and the province of Asia, disputing with Stephen.

Again him they hasten and go,
The wicked Freedmen,
And the cruel Cilicians,
And the other Alexandrians.

Surrexerunt autem quidam de synagoga, quae appellatur Libertinorum, et Cyrenensium, et Alexandrinorum, et eorum qui erant a Cilicia, et Asia, disputantes cum Stephano.

En contre el corron e van,
Los fellons Losbertinians,
Et los cruels Cilicians,
Els autres Alexandrians.

And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit Who spoke.

The servant of God in virtue,
Did know their lies.
He rendered silent the most learned,
And overcame all, good and evil.

Et non poterant resistere sapientiae, et Spiritui, qui loquebatur.

Lo ser de Dieu, e la vertut
Los messongies a connogut;
Los plus savis a rendut mutz,
Los bons el malz totz a vencutz.

Now as they heard these things, they were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth at him.

When they had heard the reason,
They knew that they were defeated.
With wrath they puff up their lungs,
Their teeth they grit like lions.

Audientes autem haec dissecabantur cordibus suis, et stridebant dentibus in eum.

Cant an auzida la razon,
Els connogron que vencutz son;
D’ira lur enflan lo polmon,
Las dens cruysson coma leons.

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said,

When the Saint saw their will,
He sought not the succor of armed men.
He looked up to heaven;
Hear ye, my Lords, how he spake.

Cum autem esset plenus Spiritu Sancto, intendens in caelum vidit gloriam Dei, et Jesum stantem a dextris Dei. Et ait:

Cant lo Sant vi lur voluntat,
Non quer secors d’ome armat;
Sus en lo cel a regardat,
Auias, Senhors, como a parlat:

Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.

Now, hear ye, let it not be grief to ye,
Above the open heaven I saw,
And knew there the Son of God,
Whom the Jews did crucify.

Ecce video caelos apertos, et Filium hominis stantem a dextris virtutis Dei.

Or, escoutas, non vos sia grieu,
Que sus el cel ubert vech yeu;
E connost la lo Filh de Dieus,
Que crucifixeron Juzieus.

But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed upon him all together. And they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

Wherefore they were sore wroth
The faithless Jews, and they cried:
Let us seize him, who hath spoken too much,
Let us cast him without the city.
Pride can no longer be concealed,
They seize the Saint to torment him.
They shall take him outside,
They begin to stone him.

Exclamantes autem voce magna, continuerunt aures suas, et impetum fecerunt unanimiter in eum, et ejicientes eum extra civitatem, lapidabant.

D’aisso foron fort corrossat
Los fals Juzieux, e en cridat:
Prennam lo, que trop a parlat,
Gittem lo for de la ciutat.
Non se pot plus l’orgueilh celar,
Lo Sant prenon per tormentar;
De foras els lo van menar,
Comensson a lo lapidar.

And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.

Lo, at the feet of a young man
They place their garments, the better to throw.
Saul did the first ones call him,
Saint Paul those that came last.

Tt testes deposuerunt vestimenta sua secus pedes adolescentis qui vocabatur Saulus.

Vevos qu’es pes d’un bachallier
Pausan lur draps, per miels lancier;
Saul li appelleron li premier,
Sant Paul cels que vengron darrier.

And while they were stoning Stephen he prayed and said:

The Saint saw the stones come.
They are soft to him; he does not try to flee.
For his Lord he suffered martyrdom,
And began to speak thus:

Et lapidabant Stephanum invocantem, et dicentem:

Lo Sant vit la peyras venir,
Doussas li son, non quer fugir;
Per son Senhor suffri martir,
E comensset aysso a dir:

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

Lord God, who madest the world,
And tookest us out of the depths of hell,
And gavest us thine hallowed name,
Receive my spirit on high.

Domine Jesu, suscipe spiritum meum.

Senher Dieus, que fezist lo mont;
E nos trayssist d’unfer pregon,
E nos domnest lo tieu Sant nom,
Recep mon esperit amont.

And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, saying

After speaking, he knelt,
Whereof he gives us example.
For he prayed for his enemies,
And what he willed he did.

Positis autem genibus, clamavit voce magna, dicens:

Apres son dich, saginolhet,
Don annos exemple donet;
Car, per sos enemios preguet,
E so que vole el accabet.

Lord, do not lay this sin against them.

Lord God, full of great sweetness:
Thus said the Saint to his Lord,
Forgive them the evil they do,
Let them have neither punishment nor pain.

Domine, ne statuas illis hoc peccatum.

Senher Dieus, plen de gran doussor,
So dis lo Sant a son Senhor,
Lo mal quels fan perdona lor,
Non aian pena ni dolor.

And with these words he fell asleep in the Lord..

When his speech was wholly finished,
Martyrdom was fulfilled.
What he asked for was heard,
And he fell asleep in God’s kingdom.

Et cum hoc dixisset, obdormivit in Domino.

Cant lo sermon fom tot fenir,
El martire fom adymplit;
Do so quel quer et fom auzit,
El regnum Dieus s’es adormit.


[1] Edm. Martene, De antiquis ecclesiae ritibus, vol. 1 (1736), p. 281-282.

[2] From Victor Saxer, “L’épÎtre farcie de la Saint-Étienne ‘Sesta Lesson’: Inventaire bibliographique,” Provence historique 93-94 (1973), pp. 318 – 326.

[3] From Les Planchs de Sant Esteve, ed. P. d’Aix.