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Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti


Transcription by Frans Wiering

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Source Loc. Title Voices Attribution


Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti alleluia

Et de petra melle saturavit eos alleluia

Exultate deo adjutori nostro

Jubilate deo jacob

Gloria patri et filio et spiritui sancto

Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper

Et in secula seculorum amen
He fed them from the fat of the grain, Alleluia,

And he satisfied them with honey from the rock, Alleluia.

Rejoice in God our help,

Be joyful in the God of Jacob.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

As it was in the beginning and now and forever,

And unto ages of ages. Amen.

Editor's Commentary

This anonymous composition is a setting of the Introit for the Mass of Corpus Christi.1 The work is in two sections, the first containing the antiphon (text: Psalm 81:17), the second the verse (text: Psalm 81:2) and doxology. For a proper liturgical performance, the first section must be repeated after the second (mm. 1-54, 55-89, 1-54).

The two parts of the composition display a different contrapuntal approach, which is consistent with the form of the Introit: the antiphon is more ornate and contrapuntal, whereas the psalm verse and doxology are in a slightly ornamented but essentially homophonic style, which becomes more contrapuntal only at the text "seculorum amen." As a consequence, the amount of borrowing from the cantus firmus melody is different. In the latter part usually only one voice does so, whereas in the antiphon setting usually at least two voices paraphrase the chant melody. When paraphrase of the cantus firmus occurs in two voices - most of the time, the Superius and Tenor - they are usually an octave apart and follow each other at a short distance. Often, they present the melody in different rhythmic shapes rather than in literal imitation.

Stylistically, this work seems closely related to the anonymous Tantum ergo that immediately precedes it in the Occo Codex. It may have been written by the same composer; both could even have belonged to a larger cycle of compositions for the celebration of Corpus Christi. One feature seems very characteristic for the sound of this work, namely the oscillation between two notes or even chords. It occurs for the first time in mm. 26-28 at the word 'melle', and subsequently in mm. 36-38 ('alleluia'), 76-78 ('secula') and 85-86 ('amen'). A very similar impression of oscillation (between a slightly larger set of sonorities) is created by the alleluia in mm. 45-52. Whether or not these passages serve as a depiction of eternal happiness is a matter of conjecture.

Pre-existent material: plainchant Cibavit eos (Introit of Corpus Christi mass)

Pange lingua chant
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS lat. 14452, f. 238v (Gradual of St. Victor of Paris, section dated 1567)

The motet is based on the Mode 2 melody (transposed to G) of the plainchant Introit with the same text and function. The version employed by the composer is clearly not identical to the one published in modern Roman Catholic missals, nor the versions from Passau or Paris. The melodic form does however point to a Germanic or Low Countries origin, consistently employing returning gesture re-fa-re where the Western Frankish versions of the chant give re-mi-re (see, e.g., the opening of the Parisian version in the example above where the word 'eos' begins D-E-D while the polyphonic setting and the Eastern chant sources give G-B flat-G / D-F-D). Since the melody is usually paraphrased, it is not always possible to extract the model with certainty. For the reconstruction below the modern plainchant version is taken as a starting-point; it was altered wherever a different reading of the plainchant melody seems a more likely model for the composition:

Cibavit chant reconstruction from polyphony
Reconstruction of Cibavit eos melody used as basis for the polyphonic setting

[1] Huys misreads the text as Cibavit nos, thereby mistakenly identifying this as a setting of the second antiphon of the third Nocturn of Matins of Corpus Christi. It is unclear why he further distinguishes the Psalm verse Exultate deo as a separate composition, since this is the verse for both the Matins antiphon and the Introit. Bernard Huys, 'An Unknown Alamire-Choirbook ("Occo Codex") Recently Acquired by the Royal Library of Belgium', Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, 24 (1974): 8.

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