Thursday, June 09, 2022

An Old Parisian Sequence for Thursday in the Octave of Pentecost

This article by Henri de Villiers was originally posted in 2014.

While in the use of Rome, the prose Veni, Sancte Spiritus is sung on the day of Pentecost and at all the Masses within the octave, the old use of Paris celebrates each day of the octave with a different sequence.

Here is how Paris used to arrange the sequences during the octave of Pentecost:
  1. Pentecost Sunday: Fulgens præclara Paraclyti Sancti
    a subdivision of an old French prose for Easter, prior to the year 1000.
  2. Pentecost Monday: Sancti Spiritus adsit nobis gratia
    by Notker the Stammerer (c. 840 † 912). 
  3. Pentecost Tuesday: Lux jucunda, Lux insignis
    by Adam of St. Victor († 1146).
  4. Pentecost Wednesday: Simplex in essentia
    by Adam of St. Victor.
  5. Pentecost Thursday: Qui procedis ab utroque
    by Adam of St. Victor.
  6. Pentecost Friday: Alma chorus Domini
    an anonymous French composition, prior to 1000.
  7. Pentecost Saturday Pentecost: Veni, Sancte Spiritus
    by Stephen Langton (c. 1150 † 1228).
It is notable that three of these compositions are the work of the famous hymnographer Adam, who, before ending his days in the abbey of Saint-Victor, at the foot of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, was the precentor of the cathedral of Paris from 1107 until roughly 1134. The proses Adam composed for Paris crossed the border of the diocese, and his work quickly spread throughout Europe. Adam’s sequences have a wide vocal range, typical of the school of chant of the cathedral of Paris, a fact which suggests the high vocal art standards which then reigned in our French capital.

Many other proses were subsequently built on the rhythms and songs of Adam; especially well know is the Lauda Sion for Corpus Christi, modeled by St. Thomas Aquinas on the Laudes Crucis by Adam of St. Victor.

Today I would like to present the text and the chant of the Parisian sequence for Thursday in the Octave of Pentecost: Qui procedis ab utroque, by Adam of St. Victor.

The liturgical texts dedicated to the Holy Spirit have become relatively rare in the Latin Church. It may be interesting to renew our acquaintance with this medieval hymnographic corpus of such high quality, as this magnificent repertoire is so rich, both spiritually and musically. Here is how dom Gueranger introduces this prose in his Liturgical Year:
This great liturgical poet of the western Church has surpassed himself in what he has written on the Holy Ghost; and more than once, during the octave, we will select from his rich store. But the hymn we give to-day is not merely a composition of poetic worth; it is a sublime and fervent prayer to the Paraclete, whom Jesus has promised to send us, and whom we are now expecting. Let us make these sentiments of the devout poet of the twelfth century our own; let us imitate him in his longings for the holy Spirit, who is coming that He may renew the face of the earth, and dwell within us.
Here is the chant of this prose, Qui procedis ab utroque, from the excellent Proper of Paris published in 1923-1925:
  Qui procedis ab utroque-1 Qui procedis ab utroque-2 Qui procedis ab utroque-3 Qui procedis ab utroque-4 Qui procedis ab utroque-5 

Here is a metrical translation by Digby S. Wrangham:

Comforter, from both together,
From the Son and from the Father,
Who proceedest equally!
Eloquent our utterance render;
With Thy splendour
Bright engender
In our hearts true warmth for Thee.

Love of Father, Son, together;
Equal of them both; with either
One: the same in every part!
All Thou fillest, all Thou lovest,
Stars Thou rulest, heaven Thou movest,
Though immovable Thou art.

Light the dearest!
Light the clearest!
Off Thou scarest,
As Thou nearest,
From the heart its gloomy night:
All the pure Thou purifiest,
Thou it is that sin destroyest,
And its mildew's baleful blight.

Knowledge of the truth Thou spreadest;
On the way of peace Thou leadest,
And the path of righteousness.
From Thee thrusting
Hearts unruly,
Thou all trusting
Hearts and holy
Dost with gifts of wisdom bless.

When Thou teachest,
Nought obscure is!
Where Thou reachest,
Nought impure is;
And, if present Thou wilt be,
Hearts in Thee then blithely glory,
And the conscience joys before Thee,
Gladdened, purified by Thee.

Elements their mystic dower,
Sacraments their saving power,
But through Thee alone possess:
What can harm us Thou repellest,
Thou exposest and Thou quellest,
Adversaries' wickedness.

Where Thou lightest,
Hearts are brightest;
Clouds that brooded
There, before Thee disappear;
Fire all-holy!
Hearts Thou truly
Never burnest,
But thence yearnest,
When Thou comest, cares to clear.

Thou the heart, experience needing,
Languor pleading,
Little heeding,
Dost instruct and rouse to right;
Speeches framing, tongues endowing,
And bestowing
Love all-glowing,
Hearts Thou mak'st in good delight.

In dejection!
In affliction!
Only refuge of the poor!
Give us scorn for things terrestrial,
And to care for things celestial
Lead our longings more and more!

Comfort wholly,
Founder solely,
Inmate truly,
Lover throughly,
Of those hearts that bow to Thee!
Concord, where is discord, raising,
Ills thence chasing,
Guilt effacing,
Bring us true security!

Thou, Who once by visitation
Didst inform, and consolation
To Thy scared disciples give!
Deign Thou now to come unto us:
If it please Thee, comfort show us,
And all nations that believe!

One excelling
Greatness sharing,
One as well in
Power appearing,
But one God three Persons are.
Coming forth from two together,
Thou co-equal art with either,
No disparity is there.

Such as is the Father Thou art;
Since so great and such Thou now art,
By Thy servants unto Thee,
With the Sire, and Son, in heaven
Our Redeemer, praise be given,
As is due, most reverently! Amen.

Some medieval Parisian manuscripts of this sequence may be seen in the French version of this post.

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