Ars Nova - texts

Home | Vorig niveau



Teksten van het ARS NOVA concert / texts and translations of three isorhytmic compositionscoronation of Anne de Lusignan at Savoy



Anon. (Nicosia/Cyprus): Sanctus in eternis / Sanctus et ingenitus



Text and music are only found in one source, a famous codex with repertory linked to the Court of Cyprus, probably compiled between 1413 and 1436. It belonged to the library of the Duke of Savoy and is now preserved in Turin. Cyprus (i.e. Nicosia) was then one of Europe's Cultural Capitals. It's king, Janus (Jean de Lusignan), was married to Charlotte de Bourbon. The codex survived the terrible fire of 1904 (not without damage and shrunk a little bit). It is shelf-marked "ms. J.II.9" (Codex Taurensis) and consists of 159 folios containing over two hundred polyphonic compositions both sacred and secular, all unique, all anonymous, and many polyphonic masterpieces.  This isorhytmic motet is n° 35, fol(s) 075v-076.


The general theory about the provenance of this manuscript is that Janus's daughter Anne took the codex with her when she married Louis, Duke of Savoy (see image >). This explains (but beware: the explanation is invented to explain, so it is speculation) why the codex was in the Duke's Library (The Duke of Savoy later transferred his seat from Chambéry to Turin). However, even in this scenario she is not the only candidate. Her uncle, Hugh de Lusignan, also resided in the Duchy of Savoy (bishop of Geneva). Based on iconographical and paleographic evidence, it seems more plausible to suggest that the manuscript was commissioned in Italy with a link to (or for) the court of Cyprus. Connections between Northern Italy and Cyprus abound (1). The presence of the coat of arms of the Avogrado family in the manuscript provides a strong link to this wealthy family from Brescia. Perhaps they commissioned it. The manufacturing of the manuscript and the compositions in it are now often linked to 'Jean Hanelle' who arrived as a petit vicaire in Cyprus in the retinue of Charlotte de Bourbon in 1411 (King Janus' second wife). Hanelle originated from Cambrai (hometown of Dufay). He was chapel Master of the King of Cyprus in 1434-1436 and in Savoy during the festivities of Anne's wedding (1434). At that time the Grant chapelle of Savoy was placed under the direction of a certain Guillaume Dufay... Producing beautifully ornamented Music manuscripts to show off was quite common in those days.




Both texts are 'tropes' (extending official texts by interpolation) on the liturgical chant of the "Sanctus" .

The Latin text below differs in some points from booklets provided with CD's. It is based on the critical text edition of Clemens Blume & Guido M. Dreves ANALECTA HYMNICA MEDII AEVII (vol. XLVII. TROPI GRADUALES. Tropen des Missals im Mittelalter (Leipzig, 1905), p. 315-316.

Not only their interpunction is very helpful to come to a beginning of an understanding (I do not claim more) but also their transcription sometimes differs. Both poems consist of 20 hexameters, with internal rhyme and (in Cantus I) some odd final rhymes in the last part, which breaks the stanzas.

One pertinent mistake, reproduced in many concerts and recordings (based on the official edition of this manuscript in CMM): Cantus II, 4.2: Many musicians sing (& textbooks print & translators do their best to make sense of it)  'Laus amor o Danielis vox gloria reboat huius'. Quite a common transcription error ("ni" is read instead of "m" (recognize the 'OCR error?!). The original seems to read 'amor odor'. It should be I think - following Blume/Dreves - Laus amor oda melis vox gloria..." 

The translation is mine, substantially differing from but still based on David Seward's (booklet Music from the Court of King Janus of Nicosia. Huelgas Ensemble)


26-09-2013 Dick Wursten

(1) Source Karl Kügle, 'Glorious Sounds for a Holy Warrior: New Light on Codex Turin J.II.9', Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 65, No. 3 (Fall 2012), pp. 637-690.



Codex Turin

Cantus  I (in ms.: Tenor)


1. Sanctus in eternis regnans, pater inque supernis  

Summaque natura naturans summa datura  

Maximaque ternis personis omnia cernis,

Res sine factura, generans sine qua genitura,


2. Sanctus et aequalis genitus, qui cum patre talis

Abs defectura patris exples omnia iura,

Qui personali distans patre proprietate

Et integrali constans es idem deitate,


3. Sanctus et una quoque procedens res ab utroque, 

Quae par gignenti similis substantia pura,

Par quoque nascenti, caritas, amor et pia cura,

Munus et amborum, largitio, pignus amorum,


4. Tu Sabaoth Dominus, caelorum rex quoque dignus,

Tu terrenorum, tu gloria plena polorum,

Vivis in excelsis, [rex] qui sine tempore celsis.


5. Hosanna, dignos tecum regnare benignos

Fac tibi cum sanctis regni solio dominantis.


6. O benedicte, venis Domini qui nomine plenis, 

Subtrahe nos poenis, hosanna, semper amoenis  

Excelsis digne, salva nos, Christe, benigne.



Holy Father, ruling forever and above;

Producing the essence of nature itself,

the very best, you - threepersonally - sift everything

generating things without making, without any begetting,

Holy and equal Son, who with the father
without defect fulfills all your father's laws,
who, in persona distinct but with the same nature

and completely agreeing art the same god.

Holy and One also who proceeds from both (= Spirit),
Equal to the Begetter, alike in pure substance.
And equal too to the Begotten, charity, love, pious care,
Reward and generous pledge of the love of both.

Thou , Lord Sabbaoth, also worthy King of heavens,
Thou full glory of the earth and of the sky,
dwellest on high, who forever is sublime.

Hosanna! Let the worthy and benign reign with you
together with the saints who rule on the throne of power,

O Blessed, who comes with a name full of the Lord.
Take away our punishments, Hosanna! Always worthy of

heavenly joys, save us, o Christ, benignly.


In Cantus I, 3.3: Blume/Dreves read 'cantas amor...' and suggest constas. I prefer 'caritas' (as does CMM)



Cantus II (in ms. Contratenor)


 1. Sanctus et ingenitus pater atque carens genitura,

Sanctus et ac genitus, patri par gloria pura,

2. Sanctus par pneuma patri, genito quoque neuma.

Fili, sancte pater, sanctum quoque pneuma character,


3. Tu Sabaoth Dominus, redimens nos a nece, pignus,

Tu Deus aeternus, clemens, pius atque benignus.

4. Tu, cuius caeli sunt pleni terraque, cuius

Laus, amor, oda, meli vox, gloria reboat huius 


5. Celsis, Hosanna, mortis quoque comprime damna,

Nos caelis foveas caelestes ante choreas.

6. Qui, benedicte, venis divino matre Maria

Nomine, prole pia, damni nos detrahe poenis. 


7. Nobis patre datus, ut nos a morte piares,

Nobis celsa dares, pro nobis virgine natus,

8. Mortuus et passus, crudeli verbere quassus,

Qui venis in Domini pro nobis nomine trini,


9. Qui Deus es dictus et homo, pius et benedictus, 

Qui cibus et panis credentibus es tibi sanis,

10. Semper in excelsis, Hosanna, redde beatis 

Fine frui celsis, salva nos, fons pietatis.



Holy and unborn, Father without a parent;  Father
Holy and born, Equal to the Father in pure glory; Son
Holy 'breath' equal To the Father and 'breathing' to the Son; Spirit
O Sign of the Son, o holy Father, also the holy Ghost,

Thou, Lord Sabbaoth, our pledge, redeem us from death,
Thou eternal God, merciful, faithful and beneficent.
Thou, of whom the heavens are full and the earth is filled of whom

praise, love and a hymn (the voice, the glory of this melody) resounds... the high, Hosanna, also suppress the pains of death,
Cherish us in heaven in the presence of the heavenly choirs.
Blessed art Thou, who comes as a child to the pious mother Mary, with
a divine name, detract us from the punishments of the damned.

Given to us by the Father, to expiate us from death,
to give us heaven, Thou, born for us from a virgin,
who has died and suffered, beaten with the cruel lash,
who comes for us in the name of the Triune Lord,

Thou, who art called God and man, faithful and blessed,
Thou who art food and bread to true believers,
Always in the highest Hosanna, give the blessed that they
may enjoy eternity on high, save us, source of piety.


In Cantus II, 6.2: Blume/Dreves suggest 'pia damni nos', in CMM it is : pia damnosis. The original seems to be (according to Dreves) pia damnos.



Joannes Ciconia: Petrum Marcello Venetum / O Petre, antistes inclite

Written on the occasion of the installation of the new bishop of Padua Pietro Marcello november, 16th, 1409. Marcello was born in Venice. Translations in English and Dutch. Alternative readings from the transcription by Susanne Clercx in 1960. In 1985 a new modern edition appeared: Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century vol XXIV: The works of Johannes Ciconia, edited by Margaret Bent and Anne Hallmark, Volume 24, Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, 1985. I was not able to consult it.






Petrum Marcello Venetum

Romano cretum sanguine,

Pastorem nostrum carmine*

Laudemus bene meritum.


Exultet urbs Euganeae

Adventu tanti presulis

Exultet plausu jubilis

Voves sonent ethereae.


Stirps leteris** Marcellina

Tali alumno decorata,

Cuius gradu sublimata

Illi tota te*** declina.


Plaudat Patavinus chorus

Laudes Iovi summo pangant

voce leta celum tangant

venit enim pastor verus.


Suz. Clercx:

* curiem

** litteris

*** re


Let us praise Peter from Venice

born from the Roman Marcelli (1)

our Pastor with a song

well deserved.


Exult, city of the Euganei (2)

at the coming of such a prelate,

Exult and applaud joyfully

let your vows resound to heaven.


Enjoy lineage of the Marcelli

adorned with such offspring:

because of his elevation

proternate yourself fully for him.


Applaud, Paduan choir,

Compose praises for the highest

with joyful voice touch the sky

for a true Pastor is coming.


1. Marcelli = an old Venetian family, the reference to Rome seems odd.

2. Euganei = semi-mythical proto-Italic ethnic group


O Petre, antistes inclite

Vere virtutis speculum

Quo nostrum inter seculum

Nos mina recto limite.


O pater amantissime,

Nos oves tuas dirige

Et aberrantes corrige

Judex cunctis justissime.


O cleri primas Padue

Nos tuos rite regula

Peccantes coge ferula

Sordida cuncta dilue.


Sint laudes regi gloriae

Qui nos te dignos red[i]dit;

Qui melon istud edidit

Adesto tuo Cyconie.

 O Peter, famous bishop,

truly, mirror of virtue

with which (i.e. virtue) during our age,

lead us on the right path.


O most loving father,

direct us, your sheep,

and correct those who err,

judge of all, most just.


O primate of the Paduan clergy

rule duly over us, who are yours,

with your staff compell the sinners,

wash us from all that is sordid.


Honour be the King of glory

who made us worthy of you;

and to the writer of this song

give heed, your Ciconia.







Laat ons Pietro Marcello van Venetië,

uit Romeins bloed gesproten,

onze Herder, onze Pastor

prijzen met een welverdiend lied.


Jubel stad der Euganei

om de komst van deze prelaat.

Jubel, klap in de handen, zing



Verheug u, geslacht van Marcello,

met zulk een telg getooid.

Buig bij zijn troonsbestijging

eerbiedig voor hem neer.


Applaus ! koor van Padua,

lofzingt voor de hoogste god

laat uw blijde stem ten hemel rijzen

want hij komt, de ware herder.



O Pietro, vermaarde bisschop,

echt, de spiegel der deugd,

waarmee in dit tijdsgewricht:

u ons moet leiden op het rechte pad.


O allerliefhebbendste vader,

leid ons, uw schapen

corrigeer hen die dwalen

allerrechtvaardigste rechter.


O primaat der clerus van Padua,

bestuur ons, de uwen, zoals het hoort,

bedwing zondaars met uw staf,

was alle smetten van ons af


Eer aan de koning der glorie,

Hij maakte ons u waardig.

En op hem die dit liedje schreef

sla welwillend acht: ’t is uw Ciconia.




Guillaume Dufay: Ecclesiae militantis (1431, or perhaps 1434)


Written on the occasion of the coronation of Gabrieli Condulmieri (from Venice) as pope Eugenius IV, 1431, 11 March. At least that is the 'received opinion'.

However, especially the text of the Motetus is hardly thinkable on that occasion. It is so... militant, openly referring to bad times. At least as far as we can understand this text. The first stanza 1 and stanzas 4 and 5 of the Motetus are hardly translatable, or if translated remain cryptical. So, one is inclined to search for a different setting (context) which might help to illuminate these parts of the text.

There is a daring hypothesis: The reference to a 'shield' (stanza 4) given to the pope should be understood as a reference to an episode a few years after his coronation, when pope Eugenius hastily had to leave Rome in a boat, while revolting roman citizens threw stones at him. (It is the time of the Western Schism and Rome becomes the bulwark of the conciliarists (Council of Basle). Venice and Florence are Rome's enemies and they rescue the pope. During this exile (1434-1443) he lived in Florence (at that time an enemy of Rome). If Ecclesiae militantis does date from this period and refers to it (remember: this is private music!) then Du Fay tries to transform the Pope's retreat into an act of heroism. If read from this perspective both the beginning in which so emphatically the election by the conclave and its legitimacy is mentioned and the way the Pope's personal virtues of asceticism and purity are highlighted become telling. Even the first lines might shift in meaning: No oblique reference to ecclesia militans / triumphans but a call on Rome “the militant and triumphant church's seat” to offer praise to the true pope. The lamento (contratenor) also gets a proper meaning: This specific war is lamented...

The text tradition used by musicians is quite confused. On the internet a version dominates which is quite faulty. The one presented below seems more in order. I compared it - with my humble paleographic skills - to the manuscript version, consultable here (Codici Trentini 87-93, folios 85v-86r + 95v-96r) and the official edition of Dufay's Opera Omnia in the CMM.


I transcribed the medieval Latin to make it more familiar (the "ae" written as "e" in medieval Latin is a constant source of confusion (so, in Motetus 1,4 there is no horse 'equum', but simply the adjective 'aequum'). Most pertinent differences I printed in blue. I don't claim perfection in translation. Some parts I translated but I don't grasp the meaning. I tried not to interfere too much, even when I didn't get it. Often one has to rephrase the sentence completely in order to get something which sounds like English. In Latin the placement of the words in a sentence is almost entirely free. It is the gender,  conjugation, declination etc. which links words.








Ecclesiae militantis

Roma sedes triumphantis

patri sursum sidera

tamen* cleri resonantis

laudem summi pontificis

promat voce libera.


Gabrielem quem vocavit

dum paternum crimen lavit

baptismatis sumptio

Eugenium revocavit

bonum genus quod notavit

pontificis lectio.


Quod consulta contio

qua nam sancta ratio

sic deliberavit

ut sola devotio

regnet in palatio

quod Deus beavit.


Certe Deus voluit

et in hoc complacuit

venetorum proli

sed daemon indoluit

quod peccatum defuit

tantae rerum moli.


Dulcis pater populi

qui dulcorem poculi

crapulam perhorres

pone lento consuli

rem gregis pauperculi

ne nescius erres.


Pater haerens filio

spiritus confinio**

det prece solemni

gaudium Eugenio

perfecto dominio

in vita perenni.




* carmen is suggested as emendation in CMM.

** or consilio ?

Rome, seat of the militant
Church, which is triumphant
above the stars, bring forth

when the clerics sing for the Father

at least* the praise of the Pope

with a liberated voice.
Who was called Gabriel
when cleansed of original sin
in baptism
was renamed Eugenius,
'well-born' as the

Papal election declared.

Which, the prudent assembly
- for she was led by holy reason -
thus decided

that only devotion

should reign in the palace
that God had blessed.
Certainly it was God's will
And in this he has gratified
The offspring of the Venetians;
But the Devil did grieve
because sin had not part

in this important matter.
Sweet father of the people,
You who abhorr the sweet

intoxication of the cup (= drinking)

Entrust to a mild councillor
the case of your poor flock,

that you may not err unknowingly.

May the Father united with the Son
with the Spirit alike
give through solemn prayer
joy to Eugenius,
in the eternal life

once his dominion completed.



* with carmen: a song that praises

Sanctorum arbitrio

clericorum* proprio

corde meditanti

aequum genus atrio

accedit ludibrio

umbrae petulanti.


Nam torpens inertia

longa quaerens otia

nescivit Eugenium

sed juris peritia

cum tota justitia

sunt ejus ingenium


Hinc est testimonium

pacem quaerit ommium

exosus piaculi

et trinum dominium**

daemonis et carnium

pompam vincit saeculi.


Quam color ipse poli

dic scutum, quod attuli

tibi, pater optime

dscrum dat, quod oculi

instar tui speculi

cernunt nitidissime!


Eya pulcherrime

querimur tenerrime

moram longi temporis

ducimur asperrime

nescio quo ferrime

ad fulmentum corporis.


Una tibi trinitas

vera Deus unitas

det coeli fulgorem

quem linea bonitas

argentea castitas

secernit in morem.




* the ms. says cleri canor - but ?

** MS: daemonium. I prefer to correct the reading: The triple dominion is traditionally linked to the papacy (cf. Tiara).

through the decision of the saints

a fair and just group of clerics

who look into their own heart,

enters the hall (of the palace)

(once the place) of mockery

of shadowy insolence.


For languid indolence

That seeks longlasting leisure

is unknown to Eugenius;

But the juridical expertise

full of justice,

is his natural dispostion.


Here is the proof:

He seeks peace for everyone,

hates crime and

and the triple dominion

overcomes the pomp of the devil,

the flesh and the world.


Say how the color of the sky

gives the shield I brought you,

most kind father,

that sacred (aspect), that your eyes

like through a mirror

discern most clearly.


Alas, most illustrious one

we bemoan, most tender one,

that it took so long.

we were led very harsly,

I don't know how, fiercely

to corporeal support.


May the Trinity in One,

God, the true Unity,

Grant you the splendor of heaven

who by linen-white goodness,

and silverlike chastity,

is set apart in morals.







Bella canunt gentes, querimur,
pater optime, tempus:
Expediet multos, si cupis, una dies.
Nummus et hora fluunt
magnumque iter orbis agendum
Nec suus in toto noscitur orbe Deus.



The people sing of war, and we lament,

Most kind father, our times:

One day, if you wish, things will go well for many.

Money and time flow away,

And the world still has a long way to go;

Yet its God is not known in all parts of the globe.



De volken bezingen de oorlog, maar wij
beklagen, goede vader, de tijd.
Geld en tijd vloeien heen
en er is nog een lange weg te gaan
voor een wereld, die wereldwijd
haar eigen God niet kent.

The cantus firmi:

"Ecce nomen Domini" (Antiphone of the Vespers for Saturday preceding the first Sunday of Advent ad Magnificat)

"Gabriel" (= God is my strength) (Antiphone of the Matins of Sundays in Advent & Vespers of the Annunciation ad Magnificat)