Lord of heaven and earth you will conceive, still a virgin, the salvation of mankind; you will be made the gate of heaven, the cure of sins. As is common in depictions of Mary in this period, she is surrounded by musicians. Inside the frame, left to right: portative organ, harp, singers, lute, vielle medieval fiddle. In the border, clockwise from the top: tromba marina, nakers, psaltery, singers, double pipe, bells. As with all pictures, click for larger view in new window. Gabriel fram [h]even e king sent to the maide sweete, broute hir blisful tiding and faire he gan hire greete: heil be thu ful of grace ariyt.
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Lord of heaven and earth you will conceive, still a virgin, the salvation of mankind; you will be made the gate of heaven, the cure of sins. As is common in depictions of Mary in this period, she is surrounded by musicians. Inside the frame, left to right: portative organ, harp, singers, lute, vielle medieval fiddle. In the border, clockwise from the top: tromba marina, nakers, psaltery, singers, double pipe, bells.
As with all pictures, click for larger view in new window. Gabriel fram [h]even e king sent to the maide sweete, broute hir blisful tiding and faire he gan hire greete: heil be thu ful of grace ariyt.
For godes sone this [h]even e liyt, for mannes love n will man bicome n and take n fles of the maide briyt ma[n]ke n fre for to make of sen and devles miyt. Reconstructing the same rhyme scheme in a second language while retaining all the same meanings is extremely difficult, sometimes impossible, particularly with such a complex and demanding rhyme scheme as in the Latin Angelus.
The originator of the English words probably not the anonymous scribe, who used word forms which corrupt the rhythm achieved the great feat of retaining the original rhyme scheme. To do so he created his own imagery from the story rather than mirroring every word in the Latin. Some of the new elements in the Middle English verses make beautiful poetry. The changing music in the oral tradition In the earliest extant source, then, we already see an attitude of adaption and change in the lyric.
When we trace the history of the music, we see the same is true. The earliest source of music is the same as that for the words, Arundel , an English manuscript from the end of the 13th century.
It has a monophonic melody with words in Latin and Middle English, as we have seen. Now in the British Library, the manuscript may have been associated with the Cistercian abbey of Kirkstall, Leeds. The next manuscript chronologically has text only, and was destroyed in World War II: MS Metz , from the end of the 13th or early 14th century, originating in the Benedictine monastery of Saint Arnould in Metz, northeast France.
The next in time had a narrow escape from destruction. It is from the collection of antiquarian Robert Cotton, born in , who had started collecting manuscripts, books, Roman inscriptions and medieval coins by the age of 18, building a huge collection.
In a fire broke out at Ashburnham House, Westminster, where the Cotton manuscripts were being stored temporarily. This fragment, fortunately, is still mostly readable. It is dated on the bottom of the recto front side, but Angelus on the verso front side seems to be earlier and has been dated to as early as c. It is difficult to be sure because, as with all technical innovations, the spread of more precise notation was uneven.
Though Arundel c. The Cotton fragment has two polyphonic voices in Latin, the melody easily recognisable as related to the Arundel tune, but not identical. It is safe to assume the changes came about as a result of being carried by the oral tradition, the most common medieval way of transmitting music.
In the Dublin Troper there are three versions of the music: at f. The melodies are related to but not the same as the two previous surviving versions. That there is no music appears to be an implicit testimony to the oral tradition: the music is presumably lacking because the melody was known and memorised, not so the words.
The final version is the text in the Cluniac Missal, printed in Paris in , the Cluniacs being a Benedictine monastic reform movement and a missal being a book of liturgy for the Mass. We have six versions of the melody and six manuscripts, but one is not equal to the other: the words and music are unevenly distributed among the manuscripts and not all sources have both. The Latin texts show linguistic errors that seem to indicate that they are textually related, but other errors indicate independence and an oral tradition.
None of the versions of the music agree with each other and they all vary in different ways, showing that no variant is dependent on another. The best explanation is that all versions were transmitted in the oral tradition before being variously committed to writing.
As we would expect in the oral tradition, there are significant differences in the music without obscuring their relationship to each other. In late 19th and early 20th century England there was a sense of cultural shift.
Some recognised the devaluing and wiping away of music-making that was traditional, participatory, communal and orally transmitted, in favour of music as a consumer-bought commodity, passively observed by a watching audience, with value put on the latest novelty rather than the connected chain of longevity. Such dedicated people as Cecil Sharp, Maud Karpeles, Lucy Broadwood, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Sabine Baring-Gould and many others therefore made it their work to visit rural towns and villages, and later urban workhouses, to collect as many traditional songs as possible while the people who sang them still lived.
Since so many of these song informants were at an advanced age, the song collectors were quite right in thinking that once these people died, their songs would die with them. Many of the singers complained that no one was interested in their songs any more, that it had been years since they had sung them, and they were delighted that collectors such as Sharp were taking an interest.
Sabine Baring-Gould. The folk song collectors did an invaluable service. Their old singers were no passive consumers of music, but active participants and remoulders of songs, recreating them, consciously and unconsciously changing a word here, a sentence there, forgetting and adding verses, reshaping the melody in subtle or fundamental ways, just as we see in the evolution of the Angelus melody. The folk music collectors discovered the evidence of this traditional process in song after song.
Among them was a unique version of Barbara Allen, with 2 verses recorded nowhere else, and a tune in no way related to other melodies for the song. After becoming popular in the 17th century as a printed broadside, Barbara Allen became one of the most widespread traditional songs, with multiple sets of variant words and widely different melodies found by collectors in England, Scotland, Ireland, the USA 98 versions in Virginia alone , Canada, Italy, and Scandinavia.
There are a huge variety of words and tunes for this widespread and enduring song, including completely different scenarios and even different ideas as to where Holland might be: it is variously hot or cold, fertile or barren and, in some, Holland even has sugar cane.
In some versions, Holland seems to have become New Holland, the name given to Australia between and During this period their large body of songs and poems was committed to writing, and from these manuscripts we see that many of their songs existed in different versions showing significant melodic variations. This is the case, for example, with the troubadour song Kalenda maya — May Day. Its melody in a manuscript written in western Provence in c.
Their melodies are recognisably similar, though different in some details, a feature best explained by oral transmission, the chief means of musical communication in the middle ages. A framework, not a blueprint Medieval music was an improvising tradition. Very often only the basic music, a monophonic line, was written down, and it was the mark of a master musician to be able to add to it, enrich it, improvise on the theme, add another polyphonic line.
This was the case with both secular and religious music. In the video at the top of this article I have treated Angelus in just the way the various medieval arrangers did, as my starting point for creativity.
This version of the melody is from the middle voice of the Dublin Troper at f. The message from the multiple versions of Angelus, then, is that we have to be creative with the music, just as medieval musicians were, just as traditional musicians were and still are.
In medieval just as in traditional music, a tune or song will grow and develop as it is passed on, and musicians are the active participants in that process. This means that the written music handed down to us is not an unyielding monolithic blueprint but it is, within the rules of the genre, a flexible framework within which we are invited to reinvent.
Angelus ad virginem (Gabriel to Mary came)
Angelus ad virginem: why early music and traditional music share the same gene pool
Angelus ad Virginem