Thursday, June 23, 2011

2 pieces of the old primitive office and mass of Corpus Christi in Liège

As Gregory DiPippo reminds us today, in 1246, when the Prince-Bishop of Liège, Robert of Torote, established in his diocese the celebration of Corpus Christi after the visions of St. Juliana of Mont-Cornillon, it was necessary to establish an office & a mass for the new feast. The composition of new texts and melodies was given to Jean of Cornillon, priest, who worked in collaboration with St. Juliana.

After the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena in 1263, Pope Urban IV, former confessor of St. Juliana, extended to the whole Church the feast of Corpus Christi by the bull "Transiturus de hoc mundo" of September 8, 1264. The Pope then asked St. Thomas Aquinas to compose a new office and a new Mass, and it is the admirable work done by St. Thomas that we still sing today, with parts universally known as the hymn Pange lingua, the Magnificat antiphon O quam suavis est or the sequence Lauda Sion.

However, in the principality of Liège itself, the former office composed by John of Cornillon survived before being gradually supplanted by that of St. Thomas Aquinas, and disappeared completely in the sixteenth century. Certainly, the work of St. Thomas is unbeatable by its theological density, but that of Jean of Cornillon was not without merit, in particular, one can appreciate the real beauty of its music; the chant is original composition, where St. Thomas centonized most often, that is to say, takes all the great "hits" of the Roman plain-song by providing new texts.

This year, our Schola Sainte Cecile of Paris will have the grace to sing the mass and the procession of Corpus Christi in Liège, the city itself where this beautiful feast was first established under the name of Festum Eucharistiae, the Feast of the Eucharist. The mass will be next saturday and will be followed by the procession. Here is the web site of the event. Of course, we will use the Roman books but we will sing some pieces from the old office of Jean de Cornillon for the Benediction.

These beautiful pieces from the old books of Liège might be used elsewhere for Benedictions or as motets.

A joyful feast of Corpus Christi to all the readers of the New Liturgical Movement.

IInd vespers - Ad Magnificat

Sequence for the mass of Corpus Christi

Source: Dom C. Lambot, Dom I. Fransen, L'Office de la Fête-Dieu primitive - Textes & mélodies retrouvées. Editions de Maredsous, 1946. 104 pages.
Book printed for the festivities of the seventh centenary of the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi in Liège in 1946.

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