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"Epithalamica": An Easter Sequence by Peter Abelard

Author(s): Chrysogonus Waddell

Source: The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 2 (1986), pp. 239-271
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/948122
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An EasterSequenceby PeterAbelard
BY the time the district agents of Nogent-sur-Seine finally auctioned off,
in late summer of 1795, the library of the recently suppressed Abbey of
the Paraclete, the books they had to offer were relatively few-a mere
173 volumes-and unimportant: Madame Charlotte de Roucy, last of the
long line of Paraclete abbesses, had realized that the Revolutionary whirlwind sweeping away the other monastic establishments of France would
make no exception even for the abbey founded by the star-crossed lovers
Abelard and Heloise. She had had the foresight to parcel out to select
friends and retainers of the doomed community its more valuable books
and manuscripts.' Among Madame de Roucy's beneficiaries was a certain
Monsieur Colin (or Collin). His literary tastes did not extend, apparently,
to books of piety and equally tedious subjects, because, for the better
part of a quarter of a century, the Paraclete books and manuscripts lay
stashed away in his attic. Around 1817 one of the Colin sons struck a
bargin with the Biblioth~que Royale (now the Biblioth6que Nationale):
in return for one of the eighteen-volume sets of Rousseau stocked at the
Parisian library for such purposes of exchange, Colin fils would agree to
part with one of the Paraclete manuscripts written, it was said and believed,
by the hand of Abelard himself.
It was a shabby looking manuscript, and the contents of the diminutive
volume were as uninteresting as its scruffy pigskin binding: some kind
of liturgical directory with a few other odds and ends at the beginning
and end.2 The text, in a decent enough Parisian hand of the late thirteenth
The author is grateful to Prof. Peter Dronke of CambridgeUniversityand to Prof. CalvinBower of
Notre DameUniversityfor theirhelpfulinsightsand encouragement.
1 For all details concerningthe dispersionof the Paracletelibraryand manuscripts,see C. J.
Mews,"Labibliothequedu Paracletdu XIIIe sieclea la Revolution,"Studiamonastica,XXVII(1985),
2 The manuscriptfrom f. 29r onwardshas been edited by C. Waddell,TheOldFrenchParaclete
Ordinary,CistercianLiturgySeries4 (Trappist,Ky., 1983), with a schematicanalysisof the contents,
pp. xiv-xv of the companionvolume, n. 3 in the same series,The OldFrenchParacleteOrdinaryand
the ParacleteBreviary:Introductionand Commentary(Trappist,Ky., 1985).



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century, was written in a kind of Old French wildly incorrect even by

the more flexible norms of thirteenth-century grammar and orthography
But even if the grammar and syntax had been impeccably correct,
the arcane liturgical and monkish jargon of the book would have evinced
little notice even by the more dedicated specialists in Abelardian research.
It was the noted medievalist, John Benton, who changed all this. At the
1972 Cluny colloquy devoted to Peter Abelard and Peter the Venerable,
Professor Benton signaled to his colleagues the potential interest of this
manuscript-Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS franaais 14410-for future
Paraclete studies.3 And in 1979, at another Abelard colloquy-held at
Trier-the manuscript, now styled the "Paraclete Ordinal," was further
discussed in a paper devoted to Abelard as creator of liturgical texts.4
Since then the Ordinal has been edited as part of a set devoted to Paraclete
liturgica,5 and, thanks to this unlikely looking Ordinal, we now have sufficient source material to study Peter Abelard not only as creator of liturgical texts, but as composer of melodies as well.
A few scholars have already studied Abelard's musical creativity, chiefly
on the basis of a severely limited repertory of musical sources: a single
hymn tune (the Saturday vespers hymn, O quanta qualia)6 and a single
planctus (Dolorum solatium, David's lament for Jonathan and Saul), which
alone are recoverable in staff notation.7 Valiant attempts have also been
made to decipher the six planctus melodies noted in staffless neumes in
the Vatican Library manuscript, Reginensis lat. 288.8 But the meagerness
of the source material and the diversity of scholarly opinion concerning
the rhythmic interpretation of the neumes has resulted in conflicting "solutions" that to suggest to the uninformed that the distinction between reasonable hypothesis and informed guesswork (mere flights of editorial fancy)
3 "Fraud, Fiction and Borrowing in the Correspondence of Abelard and Heloise," Pierre Abelard
-Pierre le Venerable. Les courants philosophiques, litteraires et artistiques en occident au milieu
du XIIe siecle. Abbaye de Cluny 2 au 9 juillet 1972 (Paris, 1975), pp. 469-511, where references to
the manuscript occur on pp. 474-75, 482, 488, 489, 491, 501.
4 C. Waddell, "Peter Abelard as Creator of Liturgical Texts," Petrus Abaelardus (1079-1142).
Person, Werkund Wirkung, ed. R. Thomas (Trier, 1980), pp. 267-80.
5 See above, n. 2. The other volumes in the series, IIIA, B, and C (Cistercian Liturgy Series 5-7),
are devoted to the Paraclete breviary, Chaumont 31. This series is distributed by Cistercian Publications, Inc., WMU Station, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008.
6 See
pp. 302-6 of the article by L. Weinrich indicated in the next footnote for a recent edition
with bibliographic references to manuscripts and other editions.
To the several transcriptions discussed by Lorenz Weinrich, "Peter Abelard as Musician,"
The Musical Quarterly, LV (1969), 295-312, 464-86, with special reference to pp. 304-12, concerning
attempts at transcription, add the transcription by Ian Bent in Peter Dronke, Poetic Individuality in
the Middle Ages, New Departures in Poetry 1000-1150 (Oxford, 1970), pp. 203-20 (with a note
about the transcription, p. 202). For a more general discussion of Abelard as musician, see Michel
Huglo, "Abelard, poete et musicien," Cahiers de civilisation medievale, XXII (1979), 349-61.
8 A photograph of a folio from the manuscript is reproduced facing p. 307 of the valuable
article by Weinrich.



might seem a fine one. Writing about Abelard the musician is like writing
about Beethoven if we had, as source material, only a fair copy of a single
movement from one of the Opus 59 quartets and a few pages from his
But thanks to the Paraclete Ordinal, the amount of recoverable music
by Abelard has quadrupled. Three lengthy and brilliantly conceived sequences may now be added to the canon of Abelard's texts with music,
and nothing suggests that further exploration may not lead to similar and
equally exciting finds.
Abelard's Sequences at the Paraclete
References to sequences in the Paraclete Ordinal are frequent. Even
so, given the generally sketchy nature of the Ordinal prescriptions, we
may be sure that at least a few items in the Paraclete sequence repertory
current in the mid-thirteenth century have been omitted.9 The bulk of
the incipits are identifiable, and point to a repertory that is "traditional,"
yet admits of numerous texts and melodies of a more recent stamp. This
repertory is "popular," yet discreet; it is basically French, but with a commensurate number of texts and melodies representative of a more international milieu. Some seven or eight of these fifty odd sequences have
so far escaped identification.'? Since Abelard refers to himself as a composer not only of hymns but sequences as well,"l and since the Ordinal
refers to numerous hymns, antiphons, responsories, and collects demonstrably by Abelard, it is not at all fanciful to suppose that at least some
of these may have survived in the thirteenth-century Paraclete prosary.
The question is of course of little practical import since, in the realm of
possibilities, an unidentifiable Paraclete sequence incipit for which no
corresponding text is known could indeed point to a lost sequence by
Abelard-or anyone else.
Is it possible that among sequence texts already known and edited,
there are some that might reasonably be by Abelard? Three such sequences
have already come to light: the Easter sequence which is the object of
9 The
sequence incipits are given in the indexes to the edition of the Ordinal (above, n. 2), p. 6*,
where one reference has been omitted ("Hodiernae," p. 83:19). For a summary discussion of this
sequence repertory, see the commentary in the companion volume, pp. 347-50.
10 These are listed on pp. 348-49 of The Old French Paraclete Ordinary and the Paraclete Bre-

viary:Introductionand Commentary(above,n. 2).

X In the covering letter to his collection of sermons written for the Paraclete, Abelard refers
to his earlier hymn and sequence project: Libello quodam hymnorum vel SEQUENTIARUM a me
nuper precibus tuis consummato...
(Migne PL 178:379). Many, perhaps most scholars, have identified these sequences with the six planctus, doubtless because no sequences ascribable to Abelard
were known to exist, whereas six planctus, similar to sequences in some respects, already had a secure
place in the canon of Abelard's compositions.


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this essay; the sequence for the departed, De profundis ad te clamantium,12

and the sequence for virgins, Virgines castae.l3 It is perhaps no accident
that all three sequences are found together with the indisputably Abelardian
planctus Dolorum solatium14 in the Nevers prosary, Paris, Bibliotheque
Nationale, MS nouv. acq. lat. 3126.15 These four sequences are in a section
of the prosary devoted to newer material, and are probably grouped as
they are because they are derived directly or indirectly from the same
source, the abbey of the Paraclete in Champagne, near Troyes. All four
selections have the same kind of literary structure, the same type of halfrhymes, the same compositional techniques; and section by section, line
by line, each of the three sequences offers striking literary parallels to
hymns and sermon texts by the philosopher turned monk and founder
of an abbey whose liturgical repertory he enriched massively.16
The case for Abelard's authorship of De profundis ad te clamantium
and Virgines castae will be argued elsewhere. A volume of the Cistercian
Liturgy Seriesl7 will be devoted to a more detailed study of all of Abelard's
texts whose music is recoverable. The present study of the Easter sequence
Epithalamica offers us no more than a first glance at one of the most remarkable texts and melodies in the whole of the medieval repertory. It
excludes a detailed discussion of the manuscript tradition and printed
editions, as well as a systematic comparison of the melody with other
melodies attributable to the founder of the Paraclete.
The Problem of the Sources: Manuscriptsand Printed Editions
I. ManuscriptSources
A. With both text and melody
1. NEV = PARIS, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS nouv. acq. lat. 3126,
ff. 90v-91v; from Nevers; twelfth century, second half, and closer to 1170
than to 1200 (though with additional sections from later periods).l8 The
scribe omits the entire final section consisting of four strophes.
Analecta hymnica, 10, pp. 54-55, for the most accessible edition; Chevalier, Repertorium
hymnologicum I, 255, n. 4238, and V, 111, for references to manuscripts and editions.
Analecta hymnica, 54, pp. 133-35, edition, with references to many other manuscripts and
editions; Chevalier, Repertorium hymnologicum II, 745, n. 21640, for manuscripts and editions.
14 F.
82v, Virgines castae; f. 87, De profundis ad te clamantium, f. 88v, Dolorum solatium;
f. 90v, Epithalamica.
Detailed description of the manuscript and its contents in M. Huglo, "Un nouveau prosaire
nivernais," in Ephemerides Liturgicae, LXXI (1957), 3-30.
16 See the article indicated
above, n. 4.
17 Distributed by Cistercian Publications, Inc., WMU Station, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008; to be
published in late 1987.
18 Besides the article
by Huglo, cited above in n. 15, see the analysis, codicological description,
and further notes by Heinrich Husman, Tropen- und Sequenzhandschriften [= Repertoire International des Sources Musicales B v' ] (Munich-Duisburg, 1964), pp. 148-49.



2. PUY = LE PUY, Bibliotheque du Grand S6minaire, Prosolarium

Ecclesiae Aniciensis (no shelf number), ff. 54r-57r; late sixteenth-century
copy (paper) of the seemingly uninterrupted all-day (and all-night) celebration of the Office of the Circumcision (Jan. 1) proper to the cathedral of Le
Puy en Velay, one of the major Marian shrines in Western Europe. Chant
notation, but on a five-line staff. While obviously related to the original
version represented by the Nevers version, the melody has been transposed
a fourth higher, but without the obligatory addition of the flat necessary
to preserve the first-mode tonality: the melody is thus transmogrified
into one of the seventh mode.
3. VIC = VIC, Museu Episcopal, MS 105 (CXI), f. 60r-v, where a
fragment only of the sequence has been incorporated into an Easter play
about the Three Marys; this section is more recent (late twelfth/early thirteenth century) than the rest of the manuscript; dry-point aquitanian no9
tation; from Vic, near Barcelona.
B. With text only
BEZ = PARIS, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS lat. 1059, ff. 462v2-463vl
(Birth of Mary, Sept. 8), 330r2-330v2 (Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8);
from Beziers; fifteenth century, first half or middle.20
II. Printed Editions
A. Missals
1. Missale insignis ecclesie Tornacensis. .. (Paris, 1498, Oct. 20),
f. lxxxvii rl; text much truncated at end, but also provided with a new
concluding stanza.
2. Missale secundum verum usum ecclesie et diocesis Tornacensis...
(Paris, 1509, Oct. 21), f. lxxxvi (error for lxxxvii) r2-vl; reproduces defective text of 1498 Missal.
3. Missale secundum usum Gratiannopolitanum.. . (Grenoble, 1532,
Dec. 14), f. ccxxxv rl-2; final four strophes abridged beyond recognition.
B. Editions based on manuscripts or printed missals
1. Antonius de Balinghem, ParnassusMarianus sev Flos Hymnorum et
Rhythmorvm de SSa Virgine Maria... (Douai, 1624), pp. 146-47; reproduces defective text of Tournai Missal (1498), though with a few editorial
emendations that result in a further departure from the authentic text.
2. J. B. Grimaldi, Sacra Beatae VirginisDeiparae Hymnodia.. . (Lyon,
1657 [error for 1637]), p. 246; no copy of this volume could be located
for the purposes of the present essay.
Description in Husman, Tropen- und Sequenszhandschriften, pp. 97-98 (where the shelf
number is wrongly given, MS 111).
Analysis and description with further bibliographic notes in Vincent Leroquais, Les Brd-

viairesmanuscritsdes BibliothequesPubliquesde France,III (Paris,1934), 65-68.


The MusicalQuarterly

3. Guido Dreves, ed., Analecta Hymnica VIII (1890), pp. 45-47, n. 36;
based on the Beziers breviary (see above, BEZ, under I B), but with editorial
emendations not indicated in the critical apparatus, and with the omission
of several lines from the final four strophes.
4. E. Misset and W. H. I. Weale, eds., ThesavrisHymnologicis hactenus
editis Supplementum amplissimum. .. II. Prosae. Analecta Liturgica, Pars II:
Thesaurus Hymnologicus (Lille and Brugge, 1892), pp. 166-69, n. 573;
though included in the section devoted to proses from the Tournai
Missal of 1498 (see above, II A 1), but based chiefly on the Beziers breviary
already used by Dreves for his edition of the sequence (see above, BEZ,
I B); variants from the Tournai Missal are indicated in the critical apparatus,
as well as the variants of the text by Balinghem (see above, II B 1, based on
the same Tournai missal).
5. Ulysse Chevalier, ed., Prosolarium Ecclesiae Aniciensis. Office en
vers de la Circoncision en usage dans l'eglise du Puy. Bibliotheque Liturgique, Tome cinquieme-lre livraison (Paris: A. Picard, 1894), pp. 37-38;
transcription of the text (without music) of a manuscript prosolarium
from the cathedral of Le Puy dated by the scribe 1552. This manuscript,
which was part of the private library of M. l'abbe Jean Baptiste Payrard
(d. 1892), has disappeared. But apart from a few minor accidental variants,
the text of the Chevalier edition agrees with that of copy (with both text
and music) in the Grand Seminaire library, listed above, I A 2. For a description of the lost manuscript of 1552, see the introduction to Chevalier's
6. Karl Young, "Some Texts of Liturgical Plays," in Publications of
the Modern Language Association of America, XXIV (1909), pp. 294-331;
the text of the Vic Easter verses (= VIC), including the excerpt from
Abelard's sequence, is transcribedhere, pp. 303-8.
7. Karl Young, The Drama of the Medieval Church, I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951), p. 681, where the transcription edited earlier in "Some
Texts.. ." (above, II B 5) is reproduced, pp. 678-81, with special reference
to p. 681 for the Epithalamica excerpt.
The sources evidently present something of a problem. NEV (I A 1),
the Nevers prosary, is indisputably the oldest and best of the manuscripts
for both text and music, but the scribe has omitted the entire final section
from strophe 10 through the coda. This material will have to be supplied
from elsewhere.
PUY (I A 2) offers a text that includes the final section missing from
NEV; but the variants in the preceding sections common to both manuscripts reaffirm the general superiority of the Nevers version. Musically,
however, the Le Puy manuscript is a disaster. One would expect to find



marked differences between melodies separated chronologically by some

400 years; but the upward transposition of the melody into a new mode
has resulted in a seventh-mode cantilena that wanders aimlessly about
without serving the dramatic thrust of the text, as does the admirable
version in NEV. Problematic as PUY is, it is nonetheless the only means
we have of forming at least a hazy idea as to what the final section omitted
by NEV may once have sounded like. The feasibility of a musical retroversion based on PUY will be discussed when we examine the final strophes
of the sequence.
VIC (I A 3) is no more than a six-line fragment incorporated into an
Easter play, and corresponding to strophe 5 and the first half of strophe 6
of the integral text. Even so, the final line of this excerpt has been altered
to fit its new context; and the melody, while obviously related to NEV,
has been reworked to fit the modal and melodic purposes of the adapter
who worked this fragment into his Easter play. The chief contribution
of VIC is to show that the Paraclete Easter sequence had traveled south
below the Pyrenees even at an early date, and to point up, by its very defects, the superiority of NEV.
BEZ (I B) offers the same text twice (with minor variants), and both
times as a specifically Marian sequence (Birth of Mary, Immaculate Conception). But even where these two texts agree against NEV, this common
text has many defective readings. Still, BEZ gives us a text for the final
section missing from NEV better, as we shall see, than that of the Le Puy
prosolarium; and it would be unwise to disregard totally this admittedly
idiosyncratic text, which even has the Bridegroom bounding over "necks"
(colla) rather than "hills" (colles) (strophe 3b).
The three printed missals (II A 1-3) serve generally only to control
a few of the variants in the Nevers manuscript, and are generally good
up to the final strophes omitted by NEV. Here the Grenoble missal reduces
the last four strophes to a mere three-line stanza; while the two editions
of the Tournai missal replace all four with a freshly composed stanza of
a doxological nature.
The other printed editions add little to our dossier. With one exception,
they are all based on earlierversions directly recoverable. Balinghem (II B 1)
draws upon the Tournai missal; Dreves (II B 3) bases his version on BEZ
(I B), as do Misset and Weale (II B 4), though they also have an eye on
Balinghem and the Tournai missal. Young (II B 6-7) transcribes a mere
fragment from the VIC manuscript. Though the manuscript upon which
Chevalier bases his edition of the Le Puy prosolarium (II B 5) has disappeared, the remarkable concordance between the text of this edition and
the coeval copy in the Grand Seminaire of Le Puy (I A 2) suggests that
the Chevalier edition has nothing to offer that the Seminary manuscript


The Musical Quarterly

copy cannot supply just as well. Only Grimaldi(II B 2) remains unaccounted

for; and given the bulk of this sizable anthology of Marianpoetry (455 pp.),
it would seem likely that his edition of the sequence depended, like the
other lyrics in this collection, on some earlier printed source, such as Balinghem's ParnassusMarianusor one of the printed missals.
Clearly none of these manuscripts and printed editions enjoys the
authority of the Nevers prosary, NEV, which offers the oldest version
of text and melody (although without the last four strophes); and it is
NEV which must obviously serve to supply our basic text. In a future
edition of Abelard's recoverable texts with music, Epithalamica will surely
include in its critical apparatus variants from all the above-listed sources
and editions; but for our present purpose, an apparatus that serves chiefly
to list scribal misreadings and editorial flights of fancy would be less than
useful. So the text and music will here follow the Nevers prosary (until
we get to the finale), with only occasional glances at other sources so often
as we have occasion to suspect something may be amiss in the Nevers text.
After a few general remarks, we shall go through Epithalamica, strophe
by strophe, considering, for each section, first the text, then the corresponding music.
Two PreliminaryConsiderations
1. A Mariansequence? or an Easter sequence?
Although there is not a single mention of Mary, Mother of the Lord,
in the entire fourteen strophes, all the sources from BEZ on (with the
possible exception of PUY) treat Epithalamica as a Mariansequence. Though
the name "Mary" may not be explicit in this text, the first ten strophes
draw lavishly and obviously on texts from the Song of Songs used also
in the repertory of Night Office antiphons drawn upon with increasing
frequency in Western Europe from the twelfth century, if not earlier, for
the Birth of Mary Office (Sept. 8).21 The cleric who had for years been
chanting antiphons about the Bridegroom's descent into his garden, about
the Bride's frantic search for her absent Bridegroom, and about turtledoves
and flowers in bloom and springtide bursting out,22 could hardly have
Typical are the antiphon series listed by R.-J. Hesbert, Corpus antiphonalium officii I, 298300, for the antiphonaries of Bamberg and Ivrea; II, 548-51, for the antiphonaries of Rheinau, Silos,
and San Lupo of Benevento, with corresponding antiphon texts edited in full in Vol. III.
See, for instance, the antiphon Anima mea liquefacta: "My soul melted when he spoke.
I sought him and I found him not; I called, and he did not answer me. The keepers that go about
the city found me .. .," Hesbert, Corpus, III, 50, n. 1418; or Tota pulchra: "You are all fair, my
love . . . For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers have appeared, the vines in
flower yield their sweet fragrance, and the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land. Arise, make
haste, my love. Come from Libanus, and be crowned," ibid., p. 508, n. 5162.



been faulted for mistaking Epithalamica for a Marian sequence. But for
Abelard, the Song of Songs was preeminently a paschal canticle. It figures
prominently in his Easter hymns,23 and all three of the Easter Sunday
canticles he provided for the Paraclete Easter Sunday Office were excerpted
from the same Song.24 Indeed, the central strophe 6 of the sequence is
chiefly a paraphrase of the first of these canticles (Song 3:1-5). Further,
it seems to have been the Song of Songs that provided the Paraclete
refectory reading during Easter Week.25 At the Paraclete itself, Epithalamica
was assigned to Easter Day, and the last section was repeated on Thursday
and Saturday of Easter Week.26
2. General Structure
Epithalamica is an Easter play in miniature. There are four dramatis
personae, two of them collective. There are the spectator participants,
who function in Greek-chorus style, addressing now the Bride (st. 1), now
the Bride's companions (sts. 2 and 9). The second collective person comprises the Bride's maiden companions, the daughters of Sion, to whom
is entrusted the paschal psalm that brings the drama to its exuberant but
solemn close (sts. 10-14). The two principal personages are the Bride and
the Bridegroom. Only the Bride actually appears on the scene, and it is
the Bride who sustains the main action of the drama: the first fleeting
visit from the Bridegroom-King with his pressing demand that she come
away with him; his sudden disappearance;her wild search for him by night;
and her ecstatic reunion with him. She has the three central scenes (sts. 3-4,
5-6, 7-8), each with its distinctive mood, and music to match. We have a
sacred music drama in miniature, whose music perfectly matches the action.
Edition of Text and Music
Strophes 1-9 are based on NEV, ff. 90v-91v; for typographical reasons,
the central French twelfth-century notation, typical of other Nevers manuscripts, is given here in standard neumes (without indication of occasional
23 Of the several accessible editions of the
hymns, references are here made to the Dreves edition
in Analecta hymnica 48, pp. 142-223 [= AH 48] and to the more recent edition by Josef Sz6verffy,

Peter Abelard'sHymnariusParaclitensis.II. The HymnariusParaclitensis.Text and Notes (Albany,

N.Y. and Brookline, Mass., 1975) [= HP], which retains the Dreves version of the hymn texts.
Reference to the hymns included in the Paraclete breviary, edited in the Cistercian Liturgy Series
(see above, n. 5) will be designated by CLS 5, followed by the page number. For the Easter hymn
under discussion, see AH 48, p. 180 (Hymn 171/61); HP, pp. 132-33 (Hymn 61); CLS 5, p. 144.
24 CLS 7,
pp. 386-87. On the uniqueness of the Paraclete canticle repertory, see the commentary, CLS 3, pp. 359-61; or Waddell, "Peter Abelard," pp. 270-72.
25 CLS 7, pp. 140-41, with reference to a marginal addition to the Paraclete Ordinary, f. 59v
(= p. 36':9 of the edition).
26 F. 55r of the manuscript; p. 31': 12 of the edition. On Thursday and Saturday of Easter Week,
only the last four strophes were sung: f. 56r of the manuscript; p. 32':14 and 18 of the edition.


The Musical Quarterly

liquescent forms). Strophes 10-13 are based on PUY, ff. 56v-57r. Modern
spelling and punctuation are used for the text. Strophes could well be
subdivided for alternation between two groups.

Exhortation to the Bride
1. Tell forth, O Bride,your bridalcanticle!
Tell outwardlythe joys you gaze upon within,
and, gladdeningus, give tidingsof the Bridegroom,
whose presencemeansnew life for you-for ever!

.? la.

E -pi
In - tus
cu - ius


- tha - la - mi - ca

dic, Spon -sa,

can - ti - ca,

quae c6n -spi - cis dic for - ris gau - di - a,

lae - ti - fi - cans, de Spon- so nfn - ti - a,
re - fo - vet sem -per
prae -sen - ti - a.

Exhortationto the YoungMaidens

2. Young maidens,sing! dance!
Whenshe, the Bride,beginsher song,join in!
The Bridegroom'sfriendshave called you to the nuptials,
and we wait to hear the songs sungby the new liege Lady.

Ci *r



A - du - le - scen - tu - lae,



cum haec prae - ci - ne - rit,



A - mi - ci



Spon - si


no - vae m6 - du - los

cho- rum du - ci
vos suc - ci - ni


vo - ca - runt

nu - pti

pta - mus D6 - mi



Song of the Bride
The Comingof the Bridegroom
3. See! he comes leapingupon the mountains.
See! he comes skippingover the hills.
Gazingupon me throughthe windows,
looking throughthe lattices, he says:
"Arise,my Love, make haste!
my snow-whitedove, come fly to me!"
4. "For the bristlingwinter is now past,
the heavy rainsare over and gone;
lovely spingtidehas opened earth:
flowers appear,the turtle-dovehas begun to sing.
Arise,my Love, make haste!
my snow-whitedove, come fly to me!"


In m6n- ti - bus
Hor -rens e - nim

hic ec - ce sa - li - ens
hi -ems iam trans - i - it,


ec - ce

ve - nit,



gra - vis

im - ber

re - ce - dens ab - i




li - ens;

- it;



fe - ne -stras
a - moe-num


can - cel - los



pa - rent flo - res,



ad me
ter - ras




- lum

- ca,

- ba

re - spi - ci - ens,
a - pe - ru - it;

di - cit,


pro - spi - ci - ens:

tur -tur

sur - ge,
ni - tens,

ce - ci - nit:

pro - pe - ra!
aid - vo - la!

The Musical Quarterly


TheBride'sSearchfor the Absent Bridegroom

5. The Kinghad alreadybetaken himself into his chamber,
and my redolent spikenardhad breathedforth its fragrance;
I had come into the gardeninto which he had come downbut alreadyhe had passedbeyond and turnedaside.
6. And so by night I go forth seekinghim;
anxious,hither and thither I run in my seeking;
the watchmencome upon me; but in my burningzeal,
even as I passbeyond them, I FIND MY BRIDEGROOM!


5a. Rex
6a. Per



in ac - cu - bi -tum
no - ctem i - gi - tur

me- a red- o -lens

il - luc, an - xi - a


iam se con - t - le - rat,

hunc quae-rens ex - e - o;


5b. et
6b. huc,




nar - dus spi- ra - ve - rat;

quae - ren - do cur - si - to;

v - ne - ram,
vi - gi - les;

in quem de - scn - de - rat,

ar - den - ti
st - di - o,

Sd.. a
..rnil - le trans - i - ens
5d. at
6d. quos cum trans - i
e - rim,

iam de - cli - na - ve - rat.
Spon - sum in - ve - ni - o.


in hor -tum
oc - cfr- runt


TheBrideReunited with the Bridegroom
7. Now I see what I had hoped for,
now I clasp what I had loved;
now I laughat what I had so wept for:
I joy more than I had ever grieved.
At morn I laughed,I wept at night;
I laughedby morn, by night I wept.

7a. Iam vi
b. iam te
c. iam ri
d. plus gu


ma - ne




ri - si,

o a sic
do -

no- cte

pta- vema - ve fle - ve lu - e -


no - cte;
fle - vi.

8. Griefhad broughton a sleeplessnight,

a griefmade overpoweringby love;
desirehad grown the more for this delaying,
till Lovercomes to visit the Beloved.
Joy comes with day, lamentationwith night;
rejoicingby day, lamentingby night.


quem ve di - la do - nec

in - s6-mnem
he - m6n- tem
ti - 6 - ne
a - man-tem



Plau - sus
di - e

di - e,
plau - sus,

do - lor du a - mor fe vo -tum cr vi a-mans

plan -ctus
no - cte

xe ce vesi -

no - cte;
plan - ctus.


The Musical Quarterly


Psalmof the MaidenCompanionsto the Bride
Invitation to the YoungMaidens
9. So come, then, maid-companions,daughtersof Sion!
To the canticle of the Bride,appenda psalma psalmwhereinthe presenceof the Bridegroom
restoredto those in grief
turns our mournfulelegies into canticles.


E - ia nunc,
ad Spon - sae
C. quo moe - stis
d. con - ver - tit


c6 - mi
can - ti
red - di
e - le

* n



Si psal - mum
Spon - si
no - stros



on fi- liae,
ad - ne - cti - te,
prae- sen - ti - a
in can - ti - ca!

Psalmof the MaidenCompanions


that the Lordhas made!

we have long awaited!
that has broughtus laughter!



that broughtus deliverance!

that did away with the foe!
that the psalmforetells!



that arousesthe Bridegroom!

that awakesthe Bride!
that restoresall things!

13. THISIS THEDAY, lovelinessof spring!

THISIS THEDAY, world'sdelight!
THISIS THEDAY, newnessof life!



C .


__i I+ r


Quam fe - cit
Quae nos e Quae Spon-sum
Ve - ris a -


Quam ex Ho - stes
Quae Spon Mun - di

D6 ri su moe -

spe quae
iu -



-g< i*BB ~


cta - vi - mus
sub - ru - it
su - sci - tat
cun - di - tas

lOc. Qua ve
lic. Quampsal
12c. Quae cun
13c. Vi - tae


r praere no -


[.- *4



[DI - ES! ]


si - mus
ci - nit

pa - rat
vi - tas




DI - ES!




DO - MI - NUS!



.[DI - ES!
[DI ES!]


The Musical Quarterly

Introduction, Stanza 1, text: The very first word, Epithalamica, by its

position and by reason of its novelty provides the context. Abelard seems
to have been among the first, if not the first, to use this adjective derived
from epithalamium, "bridal hymn." "Bridal hymn" would straightway
remind the Paraclete nuns of the Song of Songs which patristic tradition
had long termed the "bridal song" par excellence: the bridal song that
celebrated the love of God for his People, of Christ for his Church, of
the Word for the individual believer. The transition from one level of interpretation to another was unproblematic: what seems at first-and probably
is-a markedly personalistic presentation of the Easter mystery directed
chiefly to the individual was not necessarily closed to a broader ecclesial
dimension. But more especially, it was Abelard's contributions to the
Paraclete liturgy that made the opening stanza immediately intelligible
to Heloise and her sisters. Every nun would have chanted at Lauds, just
a few hours earlier, Abelard's paschal hymn Da Mariae tympanum,27 and
frequent public readings of Abelard's Easter sermon28 would have familiarized them with the terms of reference for this introductory stanza, namely,
Miriam's canticle in celebration of the Hebrews' miraculous passage through
the Red Sea-a major theme of the traditional Paschal Vigil celebration.
Miriam, whose Latin name is Maria,is, says Abelard, both virgin (no mention
is made in Holy Writ of her having a husband) and prophetess, one who sees.
And when Miriam-Marysings her canticle, leading her women companions
in song and dance, she tells of her inward vision, a revelation that points
not only to this passage through the death-dealing waters of the Red Sea,
but to the future liberation of God's People through the sacrament of
baptism.29 This, then, provides the context for line 2, "Tell outwardly
the joys you gaze upon within," for the Bride is, like Mary-Miriam,a prophetess. But Abelard immediately moves on to yet another Mary and to
another group of women companions: Mary Magdaleneand the holy women
who were the first to see the risen Lord and to proclaim his resurrection
to the apostles. Mary Magdaline is, indeed, apostle to the apostles, apostolorum apostola,30 whose mission is to proclaim the joy of the
resurrection. Here phrase after phrase of the sermon parallels lines 2 and 3
of the sequence: ut eis (apostolis) resurrectionis gaudium nuntiaret, Maria
illa caeteris in cantico praecinebat, et haec ante alias, gaudio resurrectionis
primo est potita; et haec prima nuntiando praecinit quod prima viderat.
Post ipsam vero, ad caeteras feminas hoc gaudium resurrectionis priusquam

AH 48, p. 179 (Hymn 169/59); HP, p. 129 (Hymn 59); CLS 5, p. 141.
Sermo 13, In diePaschae;PL 178:484 B-489 A.
Ibid., col. 484 C-D: Quid enim prophetes, nisi videns interpretatur? Cum visionem autem,
id est revelationem cantat, cui verborum quoque mysteria Dominus revelat...
30 Ibid., col. 485 B.



ad apostolos vel quoslibet viros pervenit.3l Note the verb twice used here,
praecinebat/praecinit, for it will occur in a contextually important phrase in
the next strophe.
The introductory stanza consists of four twelve-syllable lines in halfrhyme (a-a-a-a); only the final syllables of the lines rhyme, in contrast
to stressed rhyme, in which both accent and final syllable (as well as intervening syllable in proparoxytones) are rhymed. Half-rhyme is one of
the hallmarks of Abelard's sequences, and a rather distinctive feature,
considering the development of the sequence form in the twelfth century.
Indeed, the virtually exclusive use of half-rhyme in Abelard's planctus
is unusual enough for Peter Dronke to refer to it as being, at this late period,
"an archaizing technique";32 this specialist in medieval poetry adds that
"sequences in which stressed rhymes are non-existent or rare are on the
whole more likely to be datable before rather than after 1100."33 Abelard's
hymns, his six planctus, and the two other sequences in the Nevers prosary
tentatively ascribed to him are all written in "old-fashioned" half-rhymes.
We may infer, then, that the presence or absence of this form of rhyme
will be a useful criterion for establishing (or challenging) Abelard's authorship of a given poetic text.
Stanza 1, melody: A single melodic phrase is repeated four times in succession. This repetition is possible in the present instance because the melody
is so perfectly crafted (we shall find the same phenomenon in the next
stanza, and in stanzas 7, 8, and 9). This technique of fourfold repetition
in direct succession occurs also in other melodies tentatively ascribable
to Abelard-though any discussion of his technique of melodic repetition
within the same strophe will have to await the publication of the other
sequences. But, on the basis of preliminary research, it would seem that
this kind of extended repetition, so untypical of the twelfth-century
sequence, is as distinctive a feature of Abelard's musical style as is halfrhyming for his poetry.
From beginning to end this prolix sequence remains within the first
mode, with a range limited to C-d. Unlike the lament for Jonathan and
Saul and the other two sequences, this one begins in the middle rather
than the lower range, perhaps because of the exclamatory nature of the
opening lines. But like the other pieces, this one eschews the one-noteper-syllable type of writing so characteristic of so many twelfth-century
sequences. Two- and three-note neumes in combination with single notes,

p. 97.

In "Virginescaste,"LateinischeDichtungendes X. und XI. Jahrhunderts(Heidelberg,1981),
Ibid., pp. 97-98.


The Musical Quarterly

with an occasional still more ample neume, seem to suffice for Abelard's
purposes. At the same time, the central sections of the piece tend more
to syllabic chant and to a higher range (this is true of the planctus and
the other two sequences), in keeping with the composer's admirable sense
of the general structure of the whole piece and the dramatic effect of alternation between syllabic chant and neumed passages.
In the neumed passages, special attention should be paid to Abelard's
treatment of accents and word endings. Here he is consistently "old school,"
in that the principal accents, where the melody juxtaposes single notes
and neumes, tend to coincide with the single notes, while the word endings
are just as prone to coincide with the neumes. By "principal" accent is
meant the accent at the end of the line, and at the caesura that inevitably
marks a minor subdivision within the line. Excellent stylist that he is,
Abelard takes into account only the accents at these two important places,
allowing the other less important accents to fall where they will. He thus
avoids the inevitable accent thump effect that turns the verse of lesser
poets into mere liturgical jingles. The typical twelfth-century composer
tended, unlike Abelard, who in some respects anticipates the thirteenth
century while also looking backwards to the eleventh century, to reserve
their neumes for the accents, while treating the word endings more lightly.
In the melody of the first strophe, note that each line has two principal
accents: the third last syllable at the caesura (after the sixth syllable) and
at the end of the line. In both instances, neumes precede and follow the
single note allotted the accent. As for the corresponding word endings,
it may be objected that these are neumeless, and therefore without length.
Without venturing too far into the disputed field of rhythmic interpretation
of early twelfth-century liturgical poetry, one may presume that most
scholars will readily admit that a certain tendency to length accords well
with the ends of phrases, whether the poet be Virgil or the goliard Archipoeta. This is, of course, a question of nuance. I do not suggest, however,
that Abelard hesitates to make accent coincide with neume! Quite the
contrary, Abelard remains in the great tradition: for him, the accent is
quite indifferent as regards neume or single note, and its vitality and arsic
nature may be well provided for, according to the context, by now the
one, now the other. But whereas the typical twelfth-century composer
will throw his accents into relief, as Abelard often does, with a well-chosen
neume, he generally will not, as Abelard so frequently does, assign an accent
a single note between two neumes or before a neume. Thus, in strophe 9,
the two-note neume on the principal accents at the end of the phrase would
have been acceptable to any fin-de-siecle musician, but putting the principal
accent before the caesura (sixth syllable of the line), "squeezed" as it is
between two neumes, would have been problematic.



It is, indeed, chiefly this evolving concept of the relationship between

accent and word ending that accounts for many of the differences between
the version of Abelard's planctus in the Nevers manuscript and the version
of the same melody in the staffless notation of Vatican Library, MS
Reginensis lat. 288. Lorenz Weinrich has provided us with a convenient
parallel transcription of the two versions (together with a third version,
admittedly corrupt) in his article, "Peter Abelard As Musician."34 For
instance, the opening motive, twice repeated:


/ I

so - la - ti - um

Do - 16 - rum







3 /"



Here the word ending of dolorum has been reduced to a single note, while
the three-note pre-accent neume of solatium is shifted to the accent. Similarly, in the proparoxytone that twice occurs in each of the four stanzas
of Section Two of the same planctus, the typically "classical" setting is
modified in keeping with a more modern "feel":


p6 - pu - lus

p6 - pu - lus

Again, in Section

Three, the word endings of iugulatur and prelio are



iu - gu - la - tur





Pp. 468-74 of the article indicated above, n. 7.


pre - i - o

The MusicalQuarterly


Brief and unsatisfactory though these considerations on the relationship

between word structure and melody may be, we can nonetheless tentatively
conclude that this is a criterion important for our identification of Abelard's
melodies. Note also that such a discernment will be risky if what we have
at hand is only a version of a composition that has already been melodically
updated, as is the case of the planctus in the Vatican manuscript.
Returning to the opening stanza of the Easter sequence, we note that its
single melodic line, four times repeated, divides naturally into two perfectly
balanced incises, as does the corresponding text with its verbal caesura
after syllable 6.



The melody, beginning on the dominant A, cresting almost immediately

with the verbal accent on c (syllable 4), descends to the final D (syllable
12) by a succession of dips and slight rises. Between the two incises there
is a rhythmic rhyme at the proparoxytone cadences, 4-6/10-12, * r *. The
hexachord (B i) of incise 1 is determined at the midpoint of this half phrase
by the rising figure, a-b-c just as the hexachord (natural) of incise 2 is determined exactly at its corresponding midpoint by the descending neume
F-E-D. The F at syllable 6 plays a pivotal role: outside the hexachord just
established, and outlining the tritone b-F with the preceding neume, it
gives the incise its striking modal flavor. This is emphasized all the more
by the approach through the downward skip of a third-the first skip in
an incise that otherwise moves by conjunct intervals. Although it is the
last note of this incise, its modal restlessness forces the melody onward
to its resolution at syllable 12. There is considerable mirroring between
the two incises: just as the pivotal F (syllable 6) is approached by the descending two-note neume b-a and a skip of a third in incise 1, so also the
same note is left, in incise 2 (syllable 7), by an upward skip of the same
third, and with the ascending two-note neume a-b. Notes 1 and 2 of incise
1 are a and G. And the same two notes are the first notes of the two neumes
in the corresponding incipit of incise 2 (at 7 and 8), while the ascending
minor third high at 3-4 is matched by the descending minor third at 9. Note,
too, the subtle but effective difference between the incises at 1-3 and 6-9. In
the second incise, every element of the first is matched in somewhat more
ample form: a-b (7) / a (1); G-F (8) / G (2); F-E-D (9) / a-b (3). Thus, incise
2 matches, contrasts, but also complements incise 1 in such a way that the
entire phrase achieves its profound unity. The phrase is a marvelous one, and
its fourfold repetition in no way taxes the listener's patience.



Stanza 2, text: The author continues with the same twelve-syllable (6 + 6)

pattern of the first stanza, for this stanza, too, belongs to the Introduction.
This touches on another characteristic feature of Abelard's sequences:
each distinctive section has its own correspondingly distinctive strophic
structure. Nothing like it is to be found so extensively and consistently
in twelfth-century sequences of the more standard sort, where the strophic
structure generally admits of relatively few variations. In the planctus
as in the three sequences tentatively identified as Abelard's, the strophic
forms vary considerably, corresponding to shifts in mood and the development of the text. Here, however, Abelard retains the same structure for
stanza 2, since this forms, with stanza 1, part of the same introduction.
But the melody is different, for we are now addressing, not the Bride,
but the young maidens who accompany her. These are the daughters of
Sion and the chorus of young women who appear frequently in the Song
of Songs; but here they are also the troupe of women who joined in the
canticle of Mary after the passage through the Red Sea: "So Mary the
prophetess . . . took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went forth

after her with timbrels and with dances; and she began the song to them,
saying: 'Let us sing to the Lord .. ."' (Ex 15:20-21). This is the principal

biblical citation in the opening section of Abelard's Easter homily,35 where

he clearly takes the Latin term for "she began the song to them," quibus
praecinebat, to mean that Mary functioned as song leader for the women
who joined in singing with her the victory canticle. The same meaning
is retained later on, when Abelard refers to the New Testament Mary (Magdalene): "That Mary [in Exodus] began the song to the other women
in her canticle"; Maria illa caeteris in cantico praecinebat; while this Mary
(in the gospels) was the first, before all the other women, to receive the
joy of the resurrection; and the first, by her telling of the tidings, to begin
to sing of what she had been the first to see; et haec ante alias, gaudio
resurrectionis primo est potita, et haec prima nuntiando praecinit quod
prima viderat.36 Abelard's Easter hymn, Da Mariae tympanum, is little
more than a paraphraseof all this: "Give Mary a timbrel... so that, singing,
she may invite [provocet] the Hebrew women to join in song";. .. "Let the
timbrel player [Mary Magdalene] give the tidings-the other one, who
was timbrel player not just in name but in full reality, worthy to be first
to behold the Risen One; let her sing her song the more sweetly, sharing
it with the other faithful women...."37
These women are both the choir of women led by Miriam, the maiden
companions of the Bride of the Song of Songs, and the women of the
PL 178:484 B-485 A.
36 Ibid., col. 485 A-B.
37 AH 48, pp. 179 (Hymn 169/59); HP, pp. 129-30 (Hymn 59); CLS 5, p. 141.


The Musical Quarterly

gospels who, like Mary Magdalene witnessed to and proclaimed the resurrection of the Lord. Line 2a refers to the "friends of the Bridegroom,"
whose function is, like that of John the Baptist, the friend of the Bridegroom (Jn 3:29), to summon us to the nuptials of Bridegroom and Bride.
It is not surprising to find mention of these bridesmen since the first great
commentator on the Song, Origen (+ 254) had included them among the
four persons or groups who perform the sacred drama.38 The final line
of the strophe forms a transition to the following section. The Bride has
been urged to sing her bridal hymn about the Bridegroom (st. 1) and now
we are settling down to listen to her sing this hymn in which the maiden
companions are later to join (st. 2b).
Stanza 2, melody: Like the melody of stanza 1, this one has a perceptible
caesura at syllable 6. The principal accent of the first incise also occurs
on a single note between two neumes, and although, as already mentioned,
the other accents may fall where they will, most of these coincide with
single notes that are followed by neumes: chorum, Amici, vocarunt, novae,
optamus. Less adventuresome than the preceding melody, this one fits
well with the structure of the whole. The Bride is about to sing, and her
song will be all the more effective if the prelude ends on a somewhat subdued tone. But, as before, this quieter melody is beautifully crafted: the
notes for syllables 1-3 are repeated note for note in the corresponding
part of the second incise, syllables 7-9. But whereas the first incise rises
swiftly to alight briefly on the dominant a, the second incise settles down
by approaching the final D by its two neighboring notes, C and E. Thus,
D F-G a is answered by C E D. This beautiful effect is that of a question
and answer. (Is this an adumbration of the later ouvert/clos technique?)39
The Song of the Bride, stanzas 3-4, text: We shift now from two quatrains
of twelve-syllable lines to two quatrains of ten-syllable lines (4 + 6, rhyme
a-a-a-a), each with the addition of the same eight-syllable refrain (rhyme
b-b). The principal personage is the Bride, who is at one and the same
time the Beloved of the Song of Songs, Mary Magdalene,and the individual
Paraclete nun. The two stanzas with their refrain do not have a distinctively
Abelardian content or expression, for they are simply paraphrasesof lines
from the Song of Songs: 3ab = Song 2:8; 3bc = Song 2:10a; Refrain (3ef
and 4ef) = Song 2: 10b; 4a-d = Song 2:11-12. Still, some of the expressions
are reminiscent of Abelard. For instance, the very first words of the Bride:
38 In his first
homily on the Song, Origen lists the roles: Bride and Bridegroom, and for each
a chorus-young maidens (adulescentulae) for the Bride, companions (sodales) for the Bridegroom.
O. Rousseau analyzes this dramatic scenario in his edition, Origene. Homelies sur le Cantique des
Cantiques (Paris, 1954), pp. 39-44. In the manuscripts of the biblical text, the various speakers were
frequently designated by name.
39 As suggested by Dr. Calvin Bower, head of the Music Department of Notre Dame University.



In montibushic ecce saliens.

Ecce venit, colles transiliens.

This corresponds, evidently, to Song 2:8:

... ecce iste venit,
saliensin montibus, transilienscolles.

But compare Abelard of the sequence to Abelard of the Ascension hymn

that begins:
In montibushic saliens,
venit, colles transiliens.

Remove the two-fold ecce from the sequence, and the distich is identical
to that of the hymn. Coincidence?
Stanzas 3-4, melody: The preceding stanza had quietly but firmly put
us into the natural hexachord tonality, where we shall remain throughout
the six stanzas of the Song of the Bride. But the present stanza (and the
next) tries to break into the B[ hexachord, and all but succeeds: from
the final D of the preceding stanza the melody leaps a fifth upwards, and
tops the spurt by rising to the non-hexachordal b. With this sharp sound
still ringing in our ears, the first four-syllable incise lets us pause only briefly
on a at the caesura; with the first note of the second incise, we are again
on D, rising again-this time less precipitously-over a series of musical
hillocks to the dominant a, from which we descend gradually in two downward rolling neumes. It is no accident that the melody begins bounding
about in concert with the leaps and bounds of the Bridegroom in the text;
but this is not at all tone painting of the grosser sort. Exactly the same
melodic phrase will be repeated another three times in these two stanzas,
but without sounding the least bit incongruous when paired with different
The second phrase rolls along at pitches lower than the dominant a,
but continues with the same kind of melodic configurations as before:
a succession of descending neumes combined with single notes in a manner
that avoids even a hint of the monotonous. Thus, if we pass in review every
one of the three- or four-note neumes in phrases a and b of this strophe,
we find that no two of them are exactly the same. Again, whereas the
two preceding stanzas both repeated the same musical phrase four times
in succession, this stanza has a different melodic structure, a-b-a-b (though
the rhyme scheme is, as before, a-a-a-a).
This stanza has an additional feature: the Bridegroom's urgent invitation
to the Bride, whispered through the lattice as she lies abed drowsing (Song


The Musical Quarterly

2:7). The rhythm lurches of a sudden into a new pattern (two eightsyllable lines). The syntax is no longer that of the preceding smoothly
flowing lines. We have, instead, a series of muted verbal explosions, the
equivalent of (with regard to sound, though not diction): "Pssst! Get up!
Hurry! Let's get going!" A lesser stylist would doubtless have overdone
the effect by having three verbal bursts in both lines. But Abelard intercalates the smooth combination columba nitens between the first three
urgent summons and the last: aMIca./SURge./PROpera./columba nitens,/
ADvola. The music takes wing in groups of threes: three three-note neumes,
three single notes in direct succession, a final three-note neume (with arrival
on a punctum), like some twelfth-century anticipation of Schumann's
Aufschwung. Stanza 4, in which spring bursts into bloom, ends with the
same urgent invitation to which the Bride now responds, with passion.
Stanzas 5-6, text: The Bride's song continues with another two strophes
that weave together paraphrases of verses from the Song of Songs: 5ab =
Song 1:11;5c = Song 5:la or c; 5d= Song 5:6b; 6a-d= Song 3:1-4b. Strophe 6,
however, employs not so much the Song versets in themselves as the Song
versets exegeted by Pope St. Gregory in his familiar Easter Week homily on
Mary Magdaleneat the tomb of the risen Christ,40 and imitated elsewhere by
Abelard in his sermon on the chaste Susanna.41 Gregory's Homily 25 on
the Gospels is the main literary source from the beginning of strophe 6 to
the end of the Bride's Song, strophe 8. As before, the rhyme scheme of
these quatrains is a-a-a-a and we also return to the twelve-syllable (6 + 6)
lines of the first two strophes. We shall return briefly to stanza 6 later,
when its import will be more evident in the light of stanzas 7 and 8.
The music: Until now every melodic phrase has been characterized by
a careful combination of neumes with single notes. But now, as the Bride
enters the trysting place, the garden, she finds that the Bridegroom-King
has already "passed beyond and turned aside." "Passingbeyond," transiens,
is here a key concept for Abelard, for whom it encapsulates the entire
paschal mystery of the Lord who makes us pass with himself through and
beyond death and mortality into life and immortality.42 So the Bride begins
her frantic pursuit. The shift of mood is mirrored in the music: the modality
remains exactly as before, down to the opening upward leap of a fifth
and further rise to the non-hexachordal b; but now the chant is almost
wholly syllabic, with only four neumes for the forty-eight syllables of
the stanza, strategically placed. Given the shape of the melody and the
abrupt rhythmic shift from walking pace to running, the obvious caesuras
40 Homily 25 on the Gospels, n. 2; PL 76, cols. 1189 D-1191 A.
41 PL 178, col. 555 A-C.
42 PL 178, col. 485 C-D.



in the text and melody seem more for the eye than for the ear. We race
along. Then, at the two main phrase endings at midpoint and at strophe
conclusion, there is a melodic breaking effect at the neume composed
of two descending thirds. This sudden melodic expansion is particularly
effective, given the words it underscores: "my redolent spikenard
The other two neumes at the end of the first incise of phrase 3 are wonderfully effective, too. They slacken the pace for just a moment as the Bride
comes into the garden and pauses to look for her Bridegroom (5c), and
again as the city watchmen try to hold her back (6c). This rhythmic variation serves perfectly to keep the successive groups of three single notes-the
combination of melody and text can hardly be felt in any way but thisfrom becoming trite and too obvious. A further effective foil to this
rhythmic repetitiousness is the greater variety of melodic phrases: a-b-c-a,
rather than a-a-a-aor a-b-a-bof the preceding strophes.
Stanza 7, text: The Bride, having passed beyond the city watchmen (6c),
at last finds the Bridegroom: she sees him, clasps him tight, laughs, and
rejoices. These present-tense verbs mark the caesura in the nine-syllable
(4 + 5) phrase, balancing the pluperfect verbs at the end. The result is
rhyming at both caesura and at line end.
So far as literary resonances are concerned, this is perhaps the richest
part of the sequence. One could hardly sing the first two lines without
thinking of that other bride of Christ, the little St. Agnes, whose Office
antiphons and responsories form a poem in celebration of the mystical
union between Bridegroom and Bride: "Lo, what I yearned for, I behold;
what I hoped for, I now clasp."
Ecce quod concupivi,iam video;
quod speravi,iam teneo.43
Abelard's iam video . . . iam teneo are clearly calculated to bring St. Agnes

to mind; and if the verbs at the end of the corresponding lines differ from
the concupivi . . . speravi of the antiphon, they differ in form more than

in general meaning, and this only for the sake of the rhyme required for
all four lines of the sequence stanza.
But it is the laughter/weeping, morning/evening couples of the following
lines that bear the stamp of Abelard, or, more correctly, Abelard and
Augustine. As early as pre-Lent Septuagesima Sunday, Abelard's sermon
for that day had begun by ringing the changes of Qoheleth's Tempus flendi/
tempus ridendi, "A time to weep/a time to laugh."44 He had developed

Hesbert, Corpus 3, p. 189, n. 2539.

Sermon 6; PL 178, cols. 425 B-430 C; based in large measure on Ecclesiastes 3:4a.


The Musical Quarterly

this theme chiefly in an eschatological context that opens out upon the
heavenly Jerusalem of the end-time consummation of present history,
a history which Abelard suggests is a time to weep. He speaks, too, of
the tears occasioned not only by our sins, but because of the long delay
in our attaining the joy for which we were created: tears vel poenitentiae
vel dilationis.45 The theme of this delayed fulfillment will feature in the
next stanza of the sequence. The theme of tears and Paschal laughter,
touched on briefly here,46 will become a central theme in the hymns of
Abelard's Holy Week Office, though in the context of Augustine's exegesis
of Psalm 29 (Hebrew, 30), v. 6b: "In the evening weeping shall have place,
and in the morning gladness"; Ad vesperum demorabitur fletus, et ad matutinum laetitia. In the two expositions of this psalm verse in his Enarrationes
in psalmos, Augustine had explained the verse in this way:
In the evening weeping will tarry: Evening began when the light Of Wisdomwithdrew
from sinful man, when He was condemned to death; from this evening weeping will
tarry, as long as God's people are . . . awaiting the Day of the Lord. And exultation in

the morning: Even to the morning,when there will be the exultation of the resurrection,
which hath shown forth by anticipation in the morning ressurrectionof the Lord.47
And again:
In the evening weeping will tarry: . . . It is evening when the sun sets. The Sun hath
set on man, that is, that Light of Righteousness, the presence of God....
When God

walked in Paradise,he walked in the evening. The sinner had now hid himself in the
wood, he was unwilling to see the face of God at which he had been wont to rejoice.
The Sun of Righteousnesshad set on him, and he did not rejoice at the presence of
God. . . . And exultation in the morning: When the Light shall have begun to rise on
the faithful. . . . For therefore did the Lord Jesus Christ rise from the tomb in the

morning. ... In our Lord it was eveningwhen he was buried,and morningwhen he rose
againon the third day.48
Combining the weeping/laughter theme from Qoheleth with that of the
evening weeping/morning exultation from Augustine's exegesis of the
psalm, Abelard begins the opening stanza of the first of his Sacred Triduum
hymns with a reference to this night for weeping: Haec nox, carissimi,
nox illa flebilis....49
This expands in the final stanza to: Nox ista flebilis
PL 178, col. 430 B.
Ibid., cols. 429 B-430 A.
47 In Psalmum XXIX. Enarratio I, 6; PL 36, col. 215; Corpus Christianorum Series Latina
38, p. 172, lines 4-11; trans. adapted from Expositions on the Book of Psalms by S. Augustine, Bishop
of Hippo, I (Oxford, 1847), 214.
48 Ibid., Enarratio II, 16; PL 36, col. 224;
Corpus Christianorum 38, pp. 183-84; Expositions,
p. 228.
49 AH 48, p. 171 (Hymn 152/42); HP, p. 105 (Hymn 42); CLS 5, p. 131.



prasensque triduum,/quo demorabitur fletus ad vesperum/donec laetitiae

mane gratissimum,/surgente Domino, sit moestis redditum. "This night
[is] for weeping; so, too, the present triduum, wherein weeping tarries
at eventide till, at the Lord's rising, the most dear moringtide of gladness
be restored to those who mourn.""50Even for the Lauds hymn of ordinary
Sunday, Abelard uses the same language for the same ideas: Transacto
FLEBILI de morte VESPERE/cum vita redditur MANE LAETITAE. . . 51
The doxology common to all the hymns of Good Friday and Holy Saturday
ends with a reference to the "laughter of the paschal grace": ". . . Sic praesens triduum in luctu ducere,/ut risum tribuas paschalis gratiae.52 Abelard
can be even more explicit in his Easter sermon, where his literary expressions
need not take into account the exigences of rhyme and metrics. "What
wonder, therefore, if we pass those two days of the Lord's suffering and
burial chiefly in the grieving of compassion, so that after the weeping [post
fletum], laughter [risus] may be all the more dear [gratior] ?"53 In the light
of all the foregoing, there should be little doubt about the authorship
of lines 7c-f of the sequence stanza.
The melody: We return to the fourfold repetition of a single melodic
phrase (a-a-a-a), extended by an additional two lines (b-b). The melody
shifts mood in keeping with the text and the concomitant change of stanza
structure. This is the climax, the Bride's great scene in this drama. But
hers is no delirium of exultation, and there is no outburst of jubilant joy.
The lines are murmured; they are more like inward musings than articulate
expressions of the logical order. Melodically, the F G E D-C of the first
incise are answered by the F-G E D of the second incise; and this second
incise begins by reversing the notes that led down to the C of the last note
of the first incise: C D E. What follows is surely one of the most remarkable
bits of writing in the whole of medieval music: the melody contracts still
more into a hushed murmur, from a minor third to a major second, with
a fourfold repetition of this neumeless figure sung to words without syntactical coherence, like the semicoherent expressions of a lover in an excess
of emotion. This is no time for logical discourse; one might be tempted
to add the editorial suggestion: "Repeat indefinitely, always diminuendo,
till you reach the other side of silence."
Stanza 8, text: The nine-syllable lines of the preceding stanza now broaden
slightly into the ten-syllable lines (5 + 5) of a rhymed quatrain (a-a-a-a)
and, also as before, with a two-line refrain structured exactly like that of

AH 48, p. 150 (Hymn 120/10); HP, p. 38 (Hymn 10); CLS 5, p. 73.
AH 48, pp. 172 ff.; HP, pp. 106 ff.; CLS 5, pp. 132 ff.
PL 178, col. 487 A.

The Musical Quarterly


strophe 7, although with different words. (Sources later than the Nevers
manuscript provide several variants of this refrain, but it is Nevers that
respects the rhymes, die/nocte,//plausus/planctus.) The text represents
either the Bride's reflections or our own on her experience of separation
from the absent Beloved. The ideas and even to some extent the vocabulary derive from Pope St. Gregory the Great's Easter Week homily on Mary
at the tomb, as indicated earlier. Discoursing on the text of the Song of
Songs (5:6-7) of which stanza 6 is a paraphrase, Gregory returns to one
of his favorite topics, desire. The single term which best characterizes
the Magdalene is ardens, "ardent," "burning"; and the entire passage teems
with the vocabulary of fire. Mary "burned fiercely with loving" (amando
fortiter ardebat); "the violence of love had set her soul on fire" (mentem...
vis amoris accenderat); "she wept, . . . aflame with the fire of her love"
(flebat . . . amoris sui igne succensa); "she was on fire with desire" (desiderio

ardebat).54 These expressions occur within a few lines of each other, and
it is no wonder that the ancient composer who wrote the classical Eastertide
antiphons about Mary at the tomb chose for one of his texts: Ardens est
cor meum, desidero videre Dominum meum ....55

At the Paraclete, this

antiphon had been retained, not among the Easter Season chants, but
in the office for St. Mary Magdalene.56 A further "Gregorian" theme is
that of delay and postponement as a function of the growth of desire.
Ut desideria dilatata crescerent, he writes; "so that the desires, being deferred [as to their fulfillment] might the more increase";57or again, Sancta
enim desideria .. . dilatione crescunt; "for holy desires grow through being

deferred." He adds that, contrariwise, Si autem dilatione deficiunt, desideria

non fuerunt; "but if they cease by reason of their being deferred, then were
they never desires."58 "Nothing consoles her sadness," he notes, "so long
as the One desired is not looked upon"; nihil eius moestitiam consolatur,
quousque adhuc qui desideratur non aspicitur.59 Even the nexus between
line 8a of the sequence and 8b is based on Gregory's homily: Jesus asks'
Mary whom she is seeking and what is the reason for her pain. It is so that
her desire might grow; in giving utterance to his name, she would burn
the more fiercely for love of him: Interrogatur doloris causa, ut augeatur
desiderium, quatenus cum nominaret quem quaereret in amore eius ardentius aestuaret.60 In the same stanza, the Bride is said to be anxia, line 6banother word that Abelard uses in his sermon (de eius morte amplius anxia

PL 76, col. 1189 B-C. All these phrases follow in rapid succession in the opening paragraph.
Hesbert, Corpus, 3, p. 57, n. 1479.
CLS 6, p. 277, line 6.
PL 76, col. 1190 A.
Ibid., C.
Ibid., col. 1191 A.
Ibid., col. 1192 B.

et moesta fuit),61


and that he borrowed for both sermon and sequence,

not from the Song of Songs, but from Gregory's homily in a passage about
the Magdalene's frantic searching through the city for the Beloved (. .. lique-

facta per ignem amoris CURRIT. Fit desiderio ANXIA).62 The refrain
is in the same spirit as before, although with different words-literally,
"clapping of hands by day, beating of breast by night." The Paraclete nuns
would have grasped straightway the Easter resonance of "clapping of hands
by day," since they were used to singing as the opening line of Abelard's
Easter Night Office hymn, "Christians, clap your hands," Christiani, plaudite.63
The melody: Just as the text has expanded slightly through being lengthened by a single syllable per line, the melody expands ever so slightly.
On the second note of the first incise, it rises to a rather than, as before,
only to G; and in order for it to complete the melodic downward movement
as in the preceding stanza, the melody of stanza 7 must undergo a minor
adjustment. The phrase ending, however, is exactly as before. This is another
instance of the composer's artistic finesse. How much simpler to have had
a single stanza structure and corresponding melody for both stanzas 7
and 8, as we have in stanzas 3 and 4, 5 and 6. But the text of stanza 8,
being somewhat less introspective, calls for a somewhat less introspective
musical setting, be the nuance of difference ever so slight.
Psalm of the Maiden Companions to the Bride, Stanza 9, text: We are back
to the meter and fourfold repetition of a single melody as in stanzas 1 and
2; only the rhyme pattern is different: a-a-b-binstead of a-a-a-a.In stanza 2,
the young maidens were told that they were to sing and dance, following
the lead of the Bride. The Bride has now finished her part in this drama;
it is time for her maidens to sing their canticle or, rather, their psalm about
the risen Christ, whose presence turns our dirges into canticles. The moestis
reddita of line 9c would surely have reminded the Paraclete nuns of the
Holy Thursday hymn sung just a few days earlier, in which moestis redditum
are the last two words of the hymn.64
The melody: The principal accent of the first incise is treated in the classical
manner: a single note for the accent, hedged in on either side by neumes.
The melody is quite "neutral," lying wholly below the dominant a; it thus

PL 178, col. 485 A.

PL 76, col. 1191 A.
63 AH 48, p. 179 (Hymn 168/58); HP, p. 127 (Hymn 58); LCS 5, p. 140.
64 AH
48, p. 172, Hymn 154/44, end of stanza 3; HP, p. 109 (Hymn 44); LCS 5, p. 131, line 37.
Dreves, followed by Prof. Szoverffy, divides Abelard's hymn into three hymns, and adds a doxology
not indicated here in the sole source, Chaumont 31. The proper final "doxology"-although the text
is not of a doxological nature-is this "third" stanza, which is actually the ninth in the manuscript.


The Musical Quarterly

avoids a break with the mood of the preceding strophes and in no way
anticipates the exultant outburst of the "psalm" it introduces. As is so
frequently the case with Abelard's musical periods, one incise is almost
like the other apart from one contrasting element. Here the phrase is structured in a manner identical with the parallel exhortation to the maidens,
strophe 2: the melodies are identical until the principal accents, at which
point the cadence for incise 1 ascends and the cadence for incise 2 descends.
Here the rhythmic treatment of the first principal accent is the same as
in stanza 1, but the melody goes only to F instead of to a, while the second
principal accent is an evident minor variation of the corresponding formula
in stanza 2: C E D becomes D-C E D. Although the general character of
the two strophes is much the same, the treatment of the latter is a bit
more muted, almost surely because of its different function here between
the inward musings of the Bride and the jubilation of the full-throated young
Stanzas 10-13, the text: Having introduced the "Pslam of the Maidens"
in stanza 9, NEV illogically breaks off at this point, omitting entirely the
grand finale to this lengthy sequence, whose prolixity was a problem even
at the Paraclete (where only stanzas 10-13 were sung on Easter Thursday
and Saturday).65 Only two sources give us the text of this final section,
PUY and BEZ; and even here, the two sources are at odds. In true Renaissance style, the Le Puy prosolarium has shifted about the first words of
many of the members in order to avoid so many lines in direct succession
beginning with the same sound, quam, qua, quae. BEZ, not PUY, must
surely be closer to the original text.
In the opening line, in the non-variable refrain and in the coda-finale,
the paschal Psalm 117 (Hebrew, 118), v. 24 rings bright and clear; the
six-syllable line of all four tercets conclude with the same four-syllable
refrain. The lines of stanza 10, after the borrowing from Ps 117:24 (line a),
remind us of the now familiar theme of expectation and laughter discussed
in connection with stanza 8; stanza 11, with its references to our deliverance,
to the overwhelming of the foes, and to the day foretold by the psalm,
reminds us of the Red Sea account and the canticles of Moses and Miriam
(Exodus 14:21-15:21). Stanza 12 needs to be taken line by line. Line a
has the Bridegroom being awakened; but any Paraclete nun, long familiar
with the imagery of Abelard's Holy Saturday hymns based in part on Genesis
49:9, as well as on bestiary figures,66 would know that this Bridegroom
is also the Lion's Cub whose slumber (= death) is going to be broken by
the Father Lion's paschal roar. This figure appears in the Holy Saturday


Paraclete Ordinal, f. 56r; CLS 4, p. 32':14, 18.

See in particular the helpful references in HP, p. 120, under "General remarks."



hymns for Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, as well as in the hymn of Easter
Vespers and it is accompanied, four times out of five, by some form of
the verb suscitare or its equivalent.67 The awakening of the Bride is from
the Song of Songs, where the phrase, "Stir not up, nor make the beloved
to awake, until she please," serves as a scene divider (2:7, 3:5, 7:4). Line
c, Quae cuncta reparat, is not unlike the line Qui restauret omnia from
Abelard's Easter Night Office hymn.68 Finally, stanza 13 is inspired in
all probability by the winter-to-spring description in the Song of Songs
(2:1 1-13) and by the visit of Bride and Bridegroom to the field and vineyard
in the Song (7:11-13). This strophe, too, is similar in resonance to the same
Easter Night Office hymn referred to above. The only textual difficulty
occurs in the coda, where the Beziers text reads: Quam fecit dominus hec
est dies, while the prosolarium in both the Chevalier edition69 and the
Seminaire manuscript copy reads simply: Quam fecit Dominus. Amen,
thus linking the coda with the twelfth and last repetition of the refrain
Haec est dies. I have followed the prosolarium reading.
The melody: Of all our sources, only PUY provides a melody for the finale.
It is not that the prosolarium is our best source; it is our only source. If
we compare the music for stanzas 1-9 common both to NEV and PUY,
it seems that the latter is less distantly related to the former than might
at first appear. Add a flat to the Le Puy melody, transpose it down a fourth,
and there is a respectable approximation of the Nevers version, as in the
melody for the first stanza.

C mh

. *

E - py - tha -la - mi - ca

. ?

dic, spon- sa, can - ti - ca

E - py - tha - la - mi - ca


dic, spon- sa, can - ti - ca

67 Lauds
hymn and Prime hymns: suscitet; Sext: evigilet; Vespers II: suscitat. These Offices
are the ones indicated in the Paraclete breviary, which here differs from AH and HP.
AH, p. 180 (Hymn 171/61); HP, p. 133 (Hymn 61); CLS 5, p. 144, line 144 (where the
manuscript actually reads "Que" rather than "Qui").

P. 39.


The Musical Quarterly

This is, however, only an approximation of the far superior Nevers reading,
and while some stanzas of PUY are closer to NEV, others are not. All we
can ask of PUY, then, is that it give us, after the due transposition has
been made, a general idea of what the music for the original finale may
have once been. To further complicate the matter, the scribe has omitted
the word dies and its corresponding notes in two of the three refrains (where
the restoration is given in brackets), and the pattern of verse-refrain is
broken in two out of twelve instances. In our transcription, only one note
(indicated by an asterisk *) has been altered: F for the E of the manuscript.
Despite this unsatisfactory source material, perhaps we are not too
far from the original melody. Even as it stands, the Le Puy version of the
finale presents several features concordant with the earlier sections of the
sequence. First of all, we should expect to find four stanzas with a fairly
ample musical treatment; otherwise it would be difficult to excerpt them
to be sung alone as the sequence for Thursday and Saturday of Easter
Week, as was done at the Paraclete in the late thirteenth century. And
second, we should expect that the finale fit in with the modal structure
of the whole composition, and this it does, for it mirrors, in a sense, the
beginning. Only stanza 1 and the finale begin assertively in the Bl hexachord
before modulating through the half step E-F into the natural hexachord.
Elsewhere, the melodies remain well within the natural hexachord, though
with an occasional and extremely effective use of the non-hexachordal Bt.
Indeed, Abelard likes to bring F and B into close melodic relationship,
and this seems to be characteristic of his melodic lines. It is curious, too,
that of the three long sequences, his planctus and his hymn, not one includes
a Bb.70 We should also expect to find an overall balance achieved through
the harmonious juxtaposition of contrasting yet complementary formulas.
This is certainly admirably realized in the case of the triple-refrain formulary: the first begins on the upper d before sweeping down in a cascade
of sound to the final D; the second begins and remains on the dominant a;
and the third hovers in single notes, at the end of all this markedly neumed
melodic activity, barely above the final D. Unlike the first refrain, which
passes through two hexachords, and the second one, which has as its top
and bottom pitches the tritone B-F, the third refrain is content to remain
unambiguously in the natural hexachord. And this third refrain also provides
an element that makes both for variety and for unity, and helps bring
together all this diversified material into a single whole: the motive F D E D.
We have met with it in a contextually important section, the two refrains
70 It could be
argued that the scribes have simply failed to indicate the flat sign; but attempts
to introduce the B flat at any place in these melodies lead more often than not to musical aberrancies
unworthy of even a less gifted composer. Moreover, the scribe of NEV elsewhere employs B flat
according to the musical context.



of the Bride in stanzas 7 and 8. The same notes occur, F-D E D, at the
end of the fourfold repetition of the refrain for line a, stanzas 10-13, and
here as the refrain formula for line c of the same four stanzas, and as the
concluding Amen formula. This four-note pattern composed of the melodic
intervals of a minor third and major second is beautifully prepared for
by the cadences of the stanza lines, which have as their four-note pattern
a half step followed by a minor third: at the upper fifth for line a of stanzas
10-13 and for the coda (c-b-c a), at the lower fifth for line c of stanzas
10-13 (F-E F-D). (The bracketed "dies" of the refrain for phrases b and c
were omitted by the scribe, who seems to presuppose that the same figure
used in phrase a will be repeated here.) All in all, this Le Puy version makes
musical sense in itself and in its relationship with the earlier parts of the
Conclusion: Given its place in the Nevers manuscript next to Abelard's
planctus, its themes and vocabulary that merely repeat the themes and
vocabulary of Abelard's hymns and sermons, the generally "classical"
melodic treatment of the words, the typically Abelardian half rhymes,
the variable stanza structure, and the fact that no manuscript of it earlier
than the second half of the twelfth century is known, and, finally, its obviously monastic, "mystical" and markedly personalistic cachet, together
with its presence in the Paraclete liturgical books where it featured as the
principal sequence for Easter and its Octave, may we not reasonably conclude that a sequence by Peter Abelard has been recovered deserving of
a place among the highest musical and poetic achievements of the twelfth