NOX - LUX. France & Angleterre, 1200 - 1300
La Reverdie

Arcana A 307

France & Angleterre, 1200 - 1300

«Super omne pulchrum viride, quomodoanimus intuentium rapit:
quando vere novo, nova quadam vita germina prodeunt,
& erecta sursum in spiculis suis quasi deorsum morte calcata
ad imaginem future resurrectionis in lucem pariter erumpunt».

(Hugo von S. Viktor: Eruditiones Didascalice)

Doron D. SHERWIN, 1998
01 - Nox [1:24]
pièce instrumentale · psaltérion, harpe 4

Wipo von BURGUND, IXe s. · Graduale romanum
02 - Victimæ pascali laudes [1:46]
sequentia · voix 1 2 3 4

Montpellier, Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Médecine, MS H 196
03 - Mors a primi patris ~ Mors, que stimulo ~ Mors morsu nata ~ MORS [1:56]
voix 1 3 4 6

Claudia CAFFAGNI, 1999
04 - Occasum [2:27]
pièce instrumentale · psaltérion

anonyme français, XIIIe s.
Firenze, Biblioteca Laurenziana, MS Plut. 29.1
05 - Pange melos lacrimosum [4:03]
voix 3 4 · vielle, rebec, percussion

anonyme français, XIIIe s.
Montpellier, Bibliothèque de la Faculté de Médecine, MS H 196
06 - Balaam inquit ~ Huic placuit tres Magi [2:49]
07 - Iam nubes dissolvitur ~ SOLEM [2:24]
voix 1 3 4 6
08 - An doz mois de mai ~ Crux forma penitentie ~ SUSTINERE [2:20]
voix 3 4 6
09 - A la clarté qui tout enlumina ~ ET ILLUMINARE [2:33]
voix 3 · psaltérion, vielle, rebec, harpe 4, cloches 5
10 - Porta preminentie ~ Porta penitentie ~ PORTAS [2:54]
voix 1 2 3 4 5 6

anonyme anglais, XIIIe s. / Ella de' Mircovich
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson G 22
11 - Miri it is hwile sumer ilasts [7:11]
voix 1 2 3 4 · psaltérion, vielle, rebec, harpe 4, percussion

anonyme anglais, XIIIe s.
London, British Library, MS Cotton Fragment XXIX
12 - Sancta mater gracie ~ Do way robin [1:51]
voix 3 4 · psaltérion

anonyme anglais, XIIIe s.
Oxford, Christi College Ms. B 489
13 - Rosa fragrans [3:24]
rondellus · voix 3 4 6 · harpes 1 3 4, cloches 5

Elisabetta de MIRCOVICH, 2000
14 - Mors et vita duello [4:13]
pièce instrumentale · luth, recorder, rebec, harpe 4, percussion

anonyme anglais, début XIVe s. · Oxford, New College Library 362, item XXVI
15 - Caligo terrae scinditur ~ Virgo Maria [3:39]
voix 3 4 5 · cornetto muto, luth, vielle, harpe 4

anonyme anglais, début XVe s. · London, British Library, MS Egerton 3307
16 - Anglia tibi turbidas spera lucem post tenebras [4:34]
voix 1 2 3 4 5 · luth, vielle, rebec, percussion

Oswald von WOLKENSTEIN, 1375-1457
Innsbruck, Wolkensteinhandschrift B
17 - Ich spuer ein tyer [4:20]
voix 3 · luth, vielle, harpe 4

Guillaume DUFAY, 1400-1474
Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Canonici Misc. 213
18 - Resveilles vous & faites chiere lye [2:57]
pour le mariage de Carlo Malatesta seigneur de Rimini et Vittoria Colonna, 1423
luth, vielle, rebec, harpe 4, cloches 5

Guillaume DUFAY / Doron D. SHERWIN.
19 - Resveilles vous & faites chiere lye [2:56]
voix 5 · luth, vielle, rebec, harpe 4

20 - Lux [3:39]
voix 3 6 · cornetto muto, recorder, harpe 4, cloches 1



1. Claudia Caffagni, voix · luth, psaltérion, cloches, harpe
2. Livia Caffagni, voix · recorders, vielle
3. Elisabetta de' Mircovich, voix · rebec, symphonia, harpe
4. Ella de' Mircovich, voice · harpe
5. Doron David Sherwin · voice, corneto mutto, percussions, cloches


6. Elena Bertuzzi, voix

Enregistrement réalisé à l'Abbazia di Rosazzo (Udine), du 9 au 14 octobre 2000,
par les soins de Michel Bernstein & Charlotte Gilart de Keranflec'h
Montage numérique: Charlotte Gilart de Keranflec'h
Production: Dr Richard Lorber [WDR 3] & Michel Bernstein



Ach, o ve! Tunc omnia elementa implicuerunt se in vicissitudinem luminis & tenebrarum, sicut & homo fecit. Ahimé!

Alas! Whereas all the elements allowed themselves to be implicated in the struggle between light and darkness, so is it exactly what man does.

Hildegard von Bingen,
epistle to Elisabeth von Schoenau

The separation between Good and Evil, between the true and the false, between black magic and white magic, hence manicheism, strictly speaking, is abandoned only for the omnipotence of God.

Jacques Le Goff,
Culture cléricale et traditions folkloriques

& vidit Deus lucem quod esset bona: & divisit lucem a tenebris. Appellavitque lucem Diem, tenebras Noctem.
And God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night.

Genesis, 1:4,5

To the pole of light, midday, is opposed the pole of darkness, midnight. Not only the existence of monks in the Middle Ages, but the daily life of all men was determined by the divisions of the day. For mystics, night was compared to the devil, it was the satanic image. On the contrary, eternity was essentially luminous. 'What will happen,' asked Saint Bernard, 'when souls are separated from their bodies? We believe they will be plunged into a pelago eterni luminis et luminose eternitatis'.

M. M. Davy,
Initiation à la symbolique romane

The great divisions are day and night and the seasons. Mediaeval time was first of all an agricultural time, a natural time, a contrasted time that sustained the mediaeval tendency to Manicheism: the opposition of shadow and light, cold and hot, life and death. Night was heavy with menaces and dangers in this world where artificial light was rare, dangerous, the source of fires in a world built of wood. With extraordinary harshness did mediaeval legislation punish crimes and offences committed at night. Night was the great aggravating circumstance of justice in the Middle Ages. Above all, night was the time of supernatural dangers and death. The German chronicler Thietmar affirms: Even as God gave day to the living, so did he give night to the dead'. In epic and lyric poetry, night was the time of distress and adventure. It was often linked with that other area of darkness: the forest. The forest and night mixed together were the scene of mediaeval anguish. On the other hand, all that was 'clear' or 'bright' — keywords in the mediaeval aesthetic and literature was beautiful and good. 'As lovely as the day' the expression was never more profoundly felt as during the Middle Ages. The taste during the Middle Ages for brilliant colours is well known. But behind that colourful phantasmagoria was the fear of the night, the quest for light which was salvation. Behind all that, there is what has been called 'the mediaeval metaphysics of light', or, might we say more modestly, the quest of security in light. Beauty is light; it reassures, it is the sign of nobility. Light is the object of the most ardent aspirations; it is laden with the highest symbols. Another contrast: that of the seasons. The mediaeval Occident knew only two seasons, winter and summer: the Winter-Summer opposition was one of the great themes of the Minnesang.

Jacques Le Goff,
La civilisation de l'Occident Medieval

Lif sceal widh deathe leoht sceal widh thystrum, god sceal widh yfele, geogod sceal widh yldo.
There is no life without death, there is no light without darkness, there is no good without evil, there is no youth without old age.

MS Cotton Tiberius, Gnomic Verses 50:1

Moehte ich verslafen des winters zit, wache ich die wile so han ich sin nit daz sin gewalt ist so breit und so wit. Weizgot er lat ouch dem meien den strit so lise ich bluomen da rife nu lit.
Oh, if only I could spend the whole winter sleeping! On the other hand, I stay awake and taste all its pain, so great and far-reaching is its power. But, thank God, soon will come the month of May, and I shall be able to pick the budding flowers.

Walther von der Vogelweide

One speaks of the 'shadows' in which our 'world' will be swallowed up. Let us point out that the same images are used at the present time. For archaic and traditional societies on the one hand, there was the cosmitised space, since it was inhabited and organised; on the other hand, outside the familiar space, there lurked the unknown, a fearsome region of demons, larvae, dead people, foreigners... ; in a word, Chaos, Death, Night.

Mircea Eliade, Images et Symboles

'Aufer lumen & omnia in tenebris ignota manebunt cum non possunt proprium manifestare decorem' Johannes Damascenus ait. Lux igitur est pulchritudo & ornatus omnis visibilis creature & ut ait Basilius 'Prima vox Domini naturam luminis fabricavit ac tenebras distulit meroremque dissolvit'.

'Let the light go out, and all things would remain unknown in darkness, in the impossibility of manifesting their harmonious form', says John the Damascene. Light is, in fact, the beauty and ornament of every visible creature since, as said Basilio Ole, 'the first word pronounced by the Lord was to create the essence of light, to dispel the darkness and alleviate distress'.

Robert Grosseteste, Hexaemeron, 147, 567

Studying the culture of the Middle Ages, one is constantly confronted with a paradoxical confusion of polarised contradictions: of the sublime and the minuscule, the spiritual and the crassly material, the lugubrious and the comical, life and death. Grouped by poles, these extremes continually get closer and change places at the same time, before separating anew. The culture of the Middle Ages is presented to us in the form of a combination — at first sight, impossible — of oppositions. Life and death, extreme opposites in any system making up a conception of the world, are reversible, and their limits are not impenetrable: there are those who die temporarily, and the dead who come back amongst the living to tell them about the torments of Hell. The tendency towards the paradoxical reversal of habitual ideas concerning the established order, top and bottom, the sacred and profane, is seen as an element of the mediaeval comprehension of the world that we would be unable to neglect. One might say that traits of the grotesque are organically congenital to this perception of reality. The modern conscience has difficulty accustoming itself to the continuous inversion of the mediaeval world and conceives as comical scenes which, in those days, provoked pious stupefaction. There is no better sign of the distance separating mediaeval culture from modern culture. The contrasts between the eternal and the transitory, the sacred and the profane, body and soul, the celestial and the terrestrial, find their basis in the social life of the time, in the irreconcilable contrasts between wealth and poverty, domination and subordination, liberty and non-liberty, privilege and submission. The Christian conception of the world in the Middle Ages obliterated the real contradictions by transferring them to the highest levels of ultra-terrestrial categories understandable by all. In the model of the mediaeval world there are no ethically neutral forces or things: they are all linked to the cosmic conflict between Good and Evil.

Aaron Gurevich


Cum autem dies noctem in homme opprimit, homo bonus miles nominator, quoniam in militari virtute malum superat. Unde vos, o fui Dei, Christo per diem militemini, & in quiete mentis nebulam fugite que diem obnubilat, ac etiam nocturnas insidias, & estote dies. Nox enim per tenebras tristitiam & dies per lucem gaudium profert. Onnes creature surit Eum in creationem sentientes, scilicet gyrantem ab oriente, quod est in ortu omnis iustitie, & ad occidentem, ubi tenebre mortis lucem vite volunt opprimere.
Whereas, in Man, day wins out over night, it deserves the title of valorous combatant, since it is capable of vanquishing Evil with its warlike ardour. And then, oh Son of God, serve Christ in the splendour of the day, and with the spirit firm, flee the cloud that darkens the day; flee the snares of night, be as the day! Night, indeed, with its darkness, symbolises affliction; day, with its light, joy. All creatures perceive God in His Creation: in the part of it that lies towards the East, that is to say, the place where justice appears, and in that which lies towards the West, where the shadows of death aspire to stifle the light of life.

Hildegard von Bingen, Epistolarium

The order of the world rested upon a fabric of tenuous connections, filled with magic influxes. Everything that the senses perceive was a sign: the word, the sound, the gesture, lightning. Evangelisation had shrouded profound beliefs in a certain number of images and formulas, but had not really vanquished the mythical representations in which the instinctive faith of the people has always sought the explanation of the unknowable. These mental images tended towards the most naive manicheism and prompted a conception of the universe like the combat area for a duel between Good and Evil, between God and the rebel armies that deny His order and disrupt it. The ascendancy of chivalry introduced the alternatives of military action at the centre of all mental representations. The entire universe was combat. For the troops led by God, it was important for every man to incorporate himself and to assail with Him the shadows, those magic powers whose existence were sensed only here and there, in the premonitory visions of death, in all the rustlings that filled the night at that time, but which, as all know, governed entirely a mysterious universe of which Man's senses may never discover more than the shell. These masked forces were terrifying and irresistible. Monastic Christianity now welcomed the beliefs that, in the past, the clergy strove to repress. It annexed a whole funerary folklore, faith in the survival of the dead, in the apparition of lost souls. Thus did demons come to haunt the cloisters. In order to thwart their pitfalls, Cluniac customs stipulated always having a light in the dormitory. The Romanesque church was oriented, turned towards the dawn, towards the first light that comes to dissipate the darkness and all the night's anxieties, towards that light which, each day in the shivers of dawn, the cycle of the liturgy hails by praising the Eternal.

Georges Duby,
Adolescence de la Chrétienté Occidentale

Sic Mors Vitam, risum luctus umbra diem portum fluctus mane claudit vespere. Fit flos fenum gemma lutum homo cinis dum tributum homo Morti tribuit. Cuius vita cuius esse pena labor & necesse vitam morte claudere. Nostrum statum pingit rosa nostri status decens glosa nostre vite lectio. Que dum primo mane floret defloratus flos effioret vespertino senio.
Just as Death concludes Life, and suffering put an end to laughter, darkness to the day, the high tide to the security of the port, after the dawn, it is the evening which falls. The flower wilts, the precious stone turns to mud, and man to ashes when he pays his tribute to Death: his life, his very nature are only pain and torment to which Death inevitably puts an end. We are like the rose, a graceful metaphor for our condition, which can teach us so much about our life: it flowers at dawn, and wilts that very evening, henceforth old and bereft of all its charm.

Alanus ab Insulis: Sequentia de Rosa

Devils and angels, benevolent or evil spirits, powers active in grasses, fruits, animals and in men's bodies are part of the reality in which existences are explained and fulfilled, with their stock of joys, sorrows, worries and hopes. That implies an infinitely more alive, more living conception of natural reality than what had generally been believed, and that explains to us, in its horizon of life, the presence of the supernatural and miraculous as something thoroughly normal, even accepted as a daily dimension. Rather shall we say that magical symbolism, in its blend and in the coexistence of varied and multiple forms, tells us, for men of the Late Middle Ages, the existence of a mentality open to magic in much greater proportions than we might have been led to believe from other testimony relative to the religious and spiritual world of those populations. The great importance of this magical dimension is proved later on, if need be, by the consideration of the Church, be it in its opposition and the effort to rub it out, or — on the other hand — in the bold attempt, we might say, to take hold of it and make it Christian.

Raoul Manselli,
Simbolismo e magia nell'Alto Medioevo

Lux quotidie interfecta resplendit, sidera defuncta reviviscunt.
Light, destroyed every day, shines once again, the dead stars coming back to life.

Tertullianus, Apologeticus, XLVIII

'Day and night show us the resurrection: the sun goes down, the sun rises, the day goes, the night comes,' said Clement of Rome. Minutius Felix exhorts: 'Vide adeo, quam in solatium nostri resurrectionem futuram omnis natura meditetur: sol demergit & nascitur, astra labuntur & redeunt'. Faith implies recognition of a correspondence between the archetypal images proposed by religious society and archetypal images which are the common property of the human psyche. The proof is found in the Fathers: one of their most constant treatments was precisely demonstrating to non-believers the correspondence between the great symbols that are immediately expressive and persuasive for the psyche, and the dogmas of the new religion. The act of faith thus carries but a division in the world of archetypal representations. Henceforth, shadows, the serpent and Satan designate what one renounces. The confrontation with the shadows is indeed a recognition of Evil as a given, but it leads to taking a stand against it. Salvation is precisely the act of being delivered from it, after having looked it in the face and acknowledged it. Jung, very astutely saw what, on this point, separated he who had experienced the archetypes empirically from the be ever as such. For one, in fact, Good and Evil are closer to each other than twins, an empirical totality. For the other, Good and Evil are antinomical, and one must decide on one against the other. Faith is this decision... One might then consider it as the recourse to protection against the risks of an immediate experience that would be redoubtable to bear, since it would embrace Evil itself. Jesus became an image of protection against the archetypal powers that threaten to take hold of everyone. The function of positive religion is to replace an experience too powerful for its subjects with an experience that is somehow filtered by the dogmas and rituals. The commitment of faith would thus be an operation of spiritual hygiene.

Louis Beirnaert,
La dimension mythique dans le sacramentalisme chrétien

& nox ultra non erit: & non egebunt lumine lucerne neque lumine solis, quoniam Dominus Deus illuminabit illos.

And there shall be no more night, and they shall no longer need the light of lamps nor that of the sun, for the Lord God shall illuminate them.

Apocalypse, XXII: 5

Durch Flandern Franckreich Engelant und Schottenland hab ich lang nicht gemessen.
Across Flanders, France, England and Scotland, I paid no heed to the distance.

Oswald von Wolkenstein

Nearly all theories are crap, but some are less crap than others.

Jan Stewart & Jack Cohen: Figments of Reality