Miracula  /  Ensemble Peregrina

Medieval Music for Saint Nicholas

peregrina.ch | tacet.de
Tacet 213


1.  Gaudeat ecclesia   [2:27]
rondellus, Paris, 13th c.Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Plut. 29,1   |   HJ solo, KL, ABB, harp, vielle

2.  Sanctissimo pontifici   [2:19]
conductus, Aquitaine, 12 c.Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 289   |   KL

3.  Nicholaus pontifex   [3:40]
rondellus, Paris, 13th c.Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Plut. 29,1   |   ABB, KL, HJ, vielle

4.  Kyrie. Christ and Sainte Marie / Sainte Marie virgine / Sainte Nicholaes   [3:48]
Godrich von Finchale (ca. 1065-1120)
London, British Library, ms. Royal 5 F vii   |   KL, ABB, HJ

5.  Alleluia. Nobilissimis siquidem   [2:10]
Silos?, 12th c.Salamanca, Universidad, Archivo y Biblioteca Ms 2637   |   HJ solo, KL, ABB

6.  Incomparabiliter   [3:54]
versus, Aquitaine, 12th c.Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, f. lat. 1139   |   ABB, KL

7.  Ave presul alme   [3:36]
hymnus, Engelberg, 14th c.Engelberg, Stiftsbibliothek, cod. 314   |   HJ, vielle

8.  Gaudens in domino / Iube domne silencium   [2:44]
conductus and polyphonic lesson, Regensburg, around 1300München, Staatsbibliothek, Clm 5539   |   ABB, HJ

9.  Benedicamus regi sydereo   [2:32]
Benedicamus trope, Aquitaine, 12th c.Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 289   |   ABB, vielle

10.  Alleluia Tumba sancti Nycholai   [2:18]
Laon, 15. c.Laon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 223   |   KL solo, ABB, HJ

11.  Ora pro nobis, beate Nicolae   [3:02]
polyphonic versicle, Aquitaine, 12th c.London, British Library, Add. 36881   |   KL solo, ABB, HJ

12.  Nicholaus inclitus   [2:16]   ·   estampie   |   vielle, harp

13.  Ex eius tumba V. Catervatim ruunt populi, Prosula: Sospitati dedit egros   [4:57]
responsorium, England, 13th c.Cambridge, University Library, Mm.ii.9   |   HJ (verse, doxology and prosula), ABB (prosula), KL

14.  Salve cleri / Salve iubara / [SOSPITATI] / [SOSPITATI]   [2:22]
motet, England, 14th c.Oxford, Bodleian Library, Hatton 81   |   KL, HJ, harp, vielle

15.  Sancto Dei Nicolao   [3:07]
versus, Aquitaine, 12 c.Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, fonds latin 3719   |   KL

16.  Gaudens in domino   [2:51]
conductus, Seckau, 1345 & Sankt Lambrecht, 14th c.Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, ms. 756 & ms. 29/30 [olim: III. 29 and 30, 38/8 and 38/9]   |   ABB, HJ, vielle

17.  Stampedes   [3:42]   ·   estampie   |   vielle

18.  Exultemus et letemur   [2:16]
versus, England, 12th c.Cambridge, University Library, Ff.i.17 (1)   |   ABB, HJ

19.  Alleluia. Fac veniale   [2:24]
Langres, 13th/14th c.Langres, Grand Séminaire, ms. 213   |   ABB solo, KL, HJ

20.  Nicholai presulis   [2:52]
conductus, Paris, 13. c.Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Plut. 29,1   |   ABB, KL, HJ

21.  Nicholai sollempnia   [1:42]
Benedicamus trope, Sankt Gallen, 15th c.St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 392   |   KL, ABB, HJ

22.  Celica siderei   [5:28]
sequence, Sion/Sitten, 14th c. — Sion/Sitten, Archives du Chapitre/Kapitelsarchiv, ms. 48   |   ABB, vielle

23.  Qui cum audissent V. Clara quippe, Prosula: Clementem te prebe   [2:45]
responsorium, Sens, 13th c.Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, nouv. acq. lat. 1535   |   KL solo, ABB, HJ

24.  Benedicamus Domino   [1:06]
conductus, Montpellier, 13th c.Montpellier, Bibliothèque Inter-Universitaire, Section Médecine, H 196   |   KL, ABB, HJ

25.  Benedicamus devotis mentibus   [0:46]
Benedicamus trope, Rotterdam or Utrecht, 14th c.Oxford, Bodleian Library, Lat. liturg. d. 1   |   ABB, HJ

26.  Benedicamus devotis mentibus   [0:54]
Benedicamus trope, Saint Bernard, 15th c.Grand-Saint-Bernard, Bibliothèque de l'Hospice, ms. 07 [olim 2038]   |   KL solo, ABB, HJ

27.  Benedicamus devotis mentibus   [1:46]
Benedicamus trope, Verona, ca. 1500Verona, Biblioteca Capitolare, DCXC   |   KL, ABB, HJ

Miracula —
Medieval Music for St. Nicholas

The main protagonist of our programme, St. Nicholas, a modest 4th century bishop from Myra (today's Turkey) made quite a career. He seems to be a rare sort of an inter-confessional saint, and this with a broad department of duties: he's the patron of sailors and the ship-wrecked, of pilgrims, thieves, butchers, prostitutes, lawyers, pharmacists, tailors, prisoners, students and children. The latter eventually made him the jolly Santa Claus smiling at us from every Coca-Cola advertisement. We skip mentioning his trivialised modern personification as a rosy-cheeked bearded man from Lapland and concentrate on the fascinating historical person that inspired many poets and composers and is still widely venerated all over the world. St. Nicholas seems to be commemorated not only among Catholic and Orthodox, but also Anglican and Lutheran Christians, he's the patron and patron saint of Russia, Greece and many cities where there are still Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed churches named in his honour.

This is how one of the most popular medieval books, Legenda aurea (the Golden Legend) compiled around 1275 by Jacob de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, describes his life:

Nicholas, citizen of the city of Patras, was born of rich and holy kin (..) the first day that he was washed and bained [bathed] (..) he would not take the breast nor the pap but once on the Wednesday and once on the Friday (..) He used and haunted gladly holy church; and all that he might understand of holy scripture he executed it in deed and work after his power. (..) And when his father and mother were departed out of this life, he began to think how he might distribute his riches, and not to the praising of the world but to the honour and glory of God. [Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend or Lives Of The Saints; Englished by William Caxton, First Edition 1483 — From the Temple Classics, Edited by F. S. Ellis]

His veneration starts with the pilgrimages to his grave in Myra where he was once anointed as a bishop and with the translatio of his remains later on to the Italian cities of Venice and Bari. Today's symbol of the inter-confessional nature of his cult is the basilica in Bari, a shrine for both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe.

The miracles of St. Nicholas were well-known in the medieval world. In many literary or musical works we come across the stories about him fasting as a child on Wednesdays and Fridays (which were considered fasting days in early Christianity), about the wondrous resurrection of the clerics, the converted Jew, the sailors saved from the tempest, about providing the dowry for three daughters and thus saving them from the brothel and the wheat miracle during the famine in Myra. Most of the miracles started at the tomb of Saint Nicholas (first in Myra, then in Bari), which was said to exude a clear rose water liquid each year, "believed by the faithful to possess miraculous powers", to quote the Legenda aurea again.

Most of those miracles are told in two simple rondelli from 13th century Paris — Nicholaus pontifex [3] and Gaudeat ecclesia [1]. Another piece from the Notre Dame school, the conductus Nicholai presulis [20], calls for praising the saint with "happy melodies" and "sweet songs" in "high voices". Musical terms very often appear in pieces for St. Nicholas since he's also been considered the patron of clerics — they are also present in two simple conducts heard here (one with the following lectio) that mention hymnis et organis ad laudem presulis, thus emphasizing the role of music in his cult [8 & 16].

Within the liturgical repertoire, the two widespread responsories for the saint were the source of the two melodies that have led individual lives outside the genre they stemmed from. The last melisma of the responsory Qui cum audissent V. Clara quippe [23] was the source of numerous musical pieces. The French version of this responsory recorded here includes the texted version of this melisma — the prosula Clementem te prebe. The melisma itself appears in many disguises and in many countries throughout the centuries both in rhythmic and unmeasured forms: as the pre-existing voice in the Notre Dame-style 3-part Benedicamus Domino from Montpellier [24], as the lower voice of the 2-part 14th c. troped Marian-Benedicamus [25] from the Netherlands (Rotterdam or Utrecht — here the text has been adjusted for St. Nicholas, the original addressee of the melody) or as the 1-part Benedicamus from the St. Bernard manuscript [26], here enriched by a simple bordun. A special treat is the 3-part version from Verona from around 1500 (dedicated to St. Augustin in the source, but in our recording righteously reverted to the praise of St. Nicholas) presenting an absolutely unique setting of this captivating prosula melody [27].

The prosula Sospitati dedit egros, a later addition to the responsory Ex eius tumba V. Catervatim ruunt populi [13], made its way into a 14th c. 4-part English motet Salve cleri/Salve iubar/ [SOSPITATI]I[SOSPITATI] [14] in the form of two alternating tenor melodies that, if texted, would have made assonances and allusions to the texts of the upper voices. The non-written text of the prosula the tenors were based on would have been present at least in the memory of contemporary musicians and performers.

Another English source preserved a unique set of three songs attributed to St. Godrich — Kyrie. Crist and Sainte MarieSainte Marie virgineSainte Nicholaes [4]. St. Godrich was an Anglo-Saxon hermit and pilgrim living ca. 1065-1120, but the songs were written down in the early 13th century. Even if he was never officially canonized, he was quite popular in his lifetime (as described in many hagiographic works) and was highly respected by figures such as Thomas Becket or Pope Alexander III. The two first songs present Godrich himself and his sister Burgwen praying to Christ and Holy Mary, whereas the last piece of this lovely triptych is a prayer to St. Nicolaus asking for safe passage. These songs belong to the most popular medieval pieces performed nowadays, thanks to a popular edition by E. J. Dobson and F. Ll. Harrison (Medieval English Songs, London 1979), which is still widely used. However, a performance or recording presenting the order of the pieces and nuances indicated in the original manuscript, such as we attempt to do here, has not been brought to my attention so far.

Also from the 12th century are several polyphonic pieces for St. Nicholas found in Aquitanian & Norman-Sicilian sources. Exultemus et letemur [18] found in later Cambridge songs is an example of early two-part writing for two equal voices making fascinating use of both b flat and b natural and with a refrain partly in vernacular. Some of the pieces here are heard for the first time since they were written around 1100: Sancto Dei Nicolao [15], Sanctissimo pontifici [2] or Benedicamus regi sydereo [9] have never been recorded so far. The two last ones belong to the favourite genre of Benedicamus songs — strophic textual tropes of the Benedicamus Domino and Deo dicamus gratias f ormulas showing a great degree of artful poetry of that time. Another piece from the Aquitanian tradition, lncomparabiliter [6], has been preserved with fragmentary melody and incomplete text. We've reconstructed both the missing text lines and the music in order to make this song sound again. Since this versus had been placed close to the many hidden-polyphony pieces in the early Aquitanian manuscript Pa 1139, we've also decided to take verbatim the words of the refrain mentioning modis organicis and composed the festive refrain in the Aquitanian 2-part style. We were happy to identify the lower voice of another Aquitanian piece, the often recorded tiny organum Ora pro nobis beate Nicolae as the versiculum formula finalizing some office services and to be able to present it here with the belonging short respond [12].

Also the three alleluia-verses presented here — Nobilissimis siquidem, probably from 12th c. Silos [5], Fac veniale tuis from Langres [19] and the late medieval Tumba sancti Nycholai from Laon [10] - have rarely or never been recorded. We're especially pleased to cover a particular gap in reviving unique pieces from Swiss sources. The hymn Ave presul alme from Engelberg is a contrafact of a known Marian melody of Ave mans stella [7]. The 3-part Nicholai sollempnia [21] seems to have been overlooked by musicologists, hidden at the bottom of the pages of one of the St. Gall manuscripts. Only the first strophe of this piece is provided in the source - the rest of the text has been completed using related sources of this widespread text — and the music does not seem to have anything in common with the popular 2-part version of this piece transmitted in the same manuscript a couple of folios earlier or known from other numerous German, Italian or Danish sources. Finally, the unique, elaborate 14th century sequence Celica siderei from Sion (Sitten) shows the long lasting interest in artful celebration of the cult and the miracles of the Eastern bishop [22].
The choice and the interpretation of many songs on this recording were influenced by extended discussions and singing sessions with Professor Wulf Arlt. Even though not all of the pieces may have taken on the form he would have wished for, we are endlessly indebted and grateful for his advice, remarks, analysis, coaching and time spent in fruitful exchange.

Agnieszka Budzinska-Bennett

Ensemble Peregrina, founded in 1997 by the Polish singer and musicologist Agnieszka Budzinska-Bennett in Basle, researches and performs sacred and secular music from twelfth to fourteenth century Europe. The ensemble's main interest lies in the early polyphonies and monophonic repertories of the Notre Dame school and Aquitanian nova cantica; the aim always being to look for a creative "counterpoint" to the mainstream in the less known peripheral sources. The ensemble's programmes are characterised by a careful choice of themes and pieces, always paying close attention to their textual and musical interrelationships.

Peregrina's interpretation and style is informed by the original source materials and treatises, as well as the latest musicological and historical research. The ensemble strives to approach a performance transmitted in the sources as closely as possible without having to renounce a well-balanced and beautiful vocal performance.

The ensemble's continuing partnership with the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, where its members met and studied, led to CD recordings Mel et lac (Raumklang 2005) with Marian Aquitanian songs of the 12th century and Filia praeclara (Divox 2008) with medieval music from 13th and 14th century Polish Clarisse convents. Both CD have received critical acclaim in the European and American press including a. o.: twice Goldberg 5 (ES), Selection Musicora (CH), CD of the month (Muzyka 21 PL), Supersonic Pizzicato (LUX). Filia praeclara has also won the prestigious ECHO-KLASSIK Award 2009 for the best a capella recording of the year. In 2011/2012 the three new CDs of the group have been released: Crux with Parisian Easter music from 13th & 14th centuries (Glossa 2011), Sacer Nidus with oldest extant music from medieval Poland (Raumklang 2011) and Veiled Desires - Lives and Loves of Nuns in the Middle Ages (Raumklang 2012, International Classical Music Awards 2013 nomination). The last CD of the ensemble, Cantrix, presents the musical past of the Maltese Order form the Royal Convents of Sigena (Hospitallers) and Las Huelgas (Cistercians) and has already received the Supersonic Pizzicato (LUX).

Peregrina has performed at numerous festivals in Switzerland (such as Lucerne Festival), Poland, Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Great Britain, Estonia, Iceland, Italy, Czech Republic and the USA. The concerts of the ensemble have been regularly broadcast on Schweizer Radio DRS 2, Deutschlandfunk, Südwestfunk, SWR2, BR, Klaasika Radio Estonia, PR 2 and BBC 3. In 2003/2004 the ensemble has also been invited to lecture on the music of 12th century Aquitaine at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. In the years 2011-2013 Agnieszka Budzihska-Bennett and Kelly Landerkin belonged to the research department of this institution. At present Kelly Landerkin teaches Gregorian chant at the SCB, Agnieszka Budzihska-Bennett teaches early music history and Gregorian chant at the Musikhochschule Trossingen in Germany.

The name peregrina, the wanderer, alludes to the transmission of music and ideas throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, but also reflects the personal journeys of the singers themselves. The ensemble members (coming from Poland, Switzerland, France, Finland and the USA) together achieve a dynamic balance through their differing origins, and they unite to emulate the interaction and convergence of the cultures and histories of the music they perform.


Ensemble Peregrina   ·   Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett

Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett — voice, medieval harps
Kelly Landerkin, Hanna Järveläinen — voice
Baptiste Romainvielle

13th c. oval vielle — Ugo Casalonga, Corsica 2004
Trecento vielle — Judith Kraft, Paris 2007
Romanesque harp, — Claus Henry Hüttel, Düren, Germany 2001
Gothic harp — Claus Henry Hüttel, Düren, Germany 2006

All pieces were sung from facsimiles or transcriptions prepared by A. Budzińska-Bennett, with the exception of track 2, transcribed by Kelly Landerkin; track 25, transcribed by Wulf Arlt; and tracks 10, 19 and 14 where the editions Alleluia-Melodien II by Karlheinz Schlager, Kassel 1987 (MMMA 8) and Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century, vol. XV by Frank Ll. Harrison (music) and Peter Lefferts (texts), l'Oiseau-Lyre 1981 were used respectively.

All instrumental pieces and accompaniments by B. Romain (vielle) and A. Budzińska-Bennett (medieval harps).
The missing parts of Incomparabiliter were completed by Hanna Marti (text) and Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett (music).


Recorded in Basel/Switzerland, November 2013
Technical equipment: TACET

Translation: Lucas Bennett
Einführungstext übersetzung: Lucas Bennett
Lieder übersetzungen: Hanna Marti und Lucas Bennett

Cover photo: Zwettler Codex 204 (fol. 157r.)
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung des Zisterzienserstiftes Zwettl, Österreich

Ensemble photos: Jarosław Wagner
Cover design: Julia Zancker
Booklet layout: Toms Spogis

Recorded and produced by Andreas Spreer
© 2014 TACET
℗ 2014 TACET

Our cordial thanks go to Prof. Dr. Wulf Arlt, Prof. Dr. Jürg Stenzl, Prof. Dr. Felix Heinzer, Lucas Bennett, Hanna Marti, Łukasz Kozak, Agnieszka Tutton and to the Heilig Kreuz Church in Binningen-Bottmingen.

This recording is for Philipp and Hans Joerg, our longtime friends and supporters. May St. Nicholas continue to bless and protect you!