Here is an interesting and very typically medieval hymn for the feast of St Anthony the Abbot, composed in the 14th century. I stumbled across this in the Breviary according to the Use of Passau, Germany, printed at Augsburg in 1490; Passau is one of several churches in southern Germany that adopted this proper Office, which does not seem to have been very popular in other parts of Europe.
|St Anthony the Abbot, by Francisco de Zurbarán, ca. 1640|
Medieval hymnographers also loved the trick performed by the author of this hymn, in which the last line of each stanza is the title (i.e. first line) of another hymn. (A similarly constructed piece is sung in the Cisterican Office of St Bernard.) The hymns thus quoted are all from the repertoire generally found in all medieval Uses of the Office.
Exultet caelum laudibus - from the Common of Apostles
Deus, tuorum militum - from the Common of Martyrs
Lucis creator optime - from Sunday Vespers
Iesu, nostra redemptio - from the feast of the Ascension, pre-Urban VIII
Conditor alme siderum - from Vespers of Advent, pre-Urban VIII
Iam lucis orto sidere - the hymn of Prime
Ad cœnam Agni providi - from Vespers of Eastertide, pre-Urban VIII
Iesu, corona virginum - from the Common of Virgins
Veni, creator Spiritus - Pentecost
The difficulty of this trick is to integrate the titles into the words of a new composition in a new sense, and the results here are uneven. Some of the expressions in the vocative case, such as “Lucis creator optime,” could be interchanged with any of the others. (I do not say this as a critique of the author; medievals valued originality far less than we do.) “Deus, tuorum militum,” however, works very cleverly with the second stanza, as “Iam lucis orto sidere” does with the sixth. The citation of the Easter hymn in its original text, “Ad coenam Agni providi,” is the only real flaw, since in the original, the word “providi” does not modify “Agni”, but the main subject of the stanza, which appears in the fourth line. (“Ad coenam Agni providi, et stolis albis candidi, post transitum maris Rubri Christo canamus principi. - Looking forward to the banquet of the Lamb, and shining in white stoles, after the passing of the Red Sea, let us sing to Christ the prince.”) Here, “providi” is left marooned to modify “the Lamb”, who is now “looking forward” to no stated object; I have left it untranslated above.