Wednesday, September 15, 2010

13th-Century Stabat: Text and Music

Through the kindness of one of our readers who converted the PDFs of this music into JPGs I can now post this newly discovered 13th-Century Sequence version of the Stabat Mater for viewing by readers. The PDFs may still be downloaded here.

I am aware that these images are a bit blurry; if you click on them or download them, you will get a clearer image. I had hoped to have an audio file of this ready today, but this was not humanly possible. In any case, may God grant you all a blessed feastday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dominican Stabat Mater (XIII century)

As the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows is approaching on September 15, I thought it would be suitable to present to our readers a transcription of the text and music of the thirteenth-century version of the Stabat Mater, recently discovered by Cesarini Ruini in a manuscript that once belonged to a convent of Dominican Nuns in Bologna, Italy, and on which I have recently posted. A miniature of the Bologna nuns, from their manuscript, decorates this post.

I have transcribed the manuscript version of this music and made it available here. Unfortunately I cannot post it as an image on the blog because I have been unable to create a jpeg from the pdf file. Those interested can download a copy. I have taken the liberty of transposing the music to match the do-clef which would be more common today. The manuscript used a fa-clef in unusual positions to avoid the use of the b-flat, the usual Dominican medieval practice. It seemed better to avoid this oddity, which has not been used in Dominican music books since 1890.

In the current Liturgy of the Hours, the Stabat is prescribed for us, divided into three parts, as the Office hymns of that day. Use as a hymn was the most common medieval use. It is also preserved, in its more common modern liturgical use, as the sequence of the feast.

The discovery of this manuscript, as explained in the article available here (in Italian), shows, by the date that the traditional ascription of authorship to Jacopone of Todi can no longer be sustained. The date, however, leaves open the possibility, often mentioned, that it is the work of Pope Innocent III.

This new version is interesting for a number of reasons. First, this is the earliest use of the text as a sequence. Until the discovery of this version, it was only known as a hymn until the late middle ages. This manuscript shows that the earliest known use of the text as a sequence was among Italian Dominican nuns in the late 1200s.

Next, the text includes not only a number of verbal variants, but also includes two verses absent from the commonly received version. Those who wish to examine these can download my transcription and compare the text to the received version here.

Even more interesting is the music. As pointed out to me by the nuns of Summit NJ, this ancient sequence borrows, with the exception of one stanza melody (cf. verses 19 and 20), the melodies of the Sequence of St. Dominic in the Dominican Rite. There are a number of minor musical variants as well. Those interested might want to compare the music to that found in the Dominican Gradual for the Mass of St. Dominic.

Perhaps some Dominicans (and non-Dominicans) may want to make use of the ancient version on the up-coming celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mass at the Tomb of St. Dominic

This video has been brought to my attention. It is a nice view of Mass in the Traditional Roman Rite being celebrated at the Tomb of St. Dominic in Bologna. The celebrant is Fr. Vincenzo Nuara, O.P., of the Commission Ecclesia Dei.

The Mass was celebrated on 19 June 2010 and was a Votive Mass of Our Lady on Saturday, in memory of Fr. Thomas Tyn, O.P., of the Lombard Dominican Province, on the 20th anniversary of his death. I knew Fr. Thomas well, as I lived with him in Bologna for almost two years.