For Christmas, Epiphany, Candlemas
A Sequence from an 11th Century Manuscript, with notes
Erroneously attributed to S. Bernard of Clairvaux (died 1153)
English Translation by the Rev. John O'Connor.
Plainsong Sequence for Christmas. This version of the melody is taken from the Dominican Graduale. Mode VI.
Source: Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #35, pp. 65-66.
1. Faithful people,
2. Matchless maiden
3. Virgin compasseth a man,
4. Day that sunset shall not close,
5. As the star, light crystalline,
6. Star that shining grows not dim,
7. The great tree of Lebanon
8. And the Word of God Most High
9. So Isaias sang of old,
10. Of her own she will not mark,
11. Make haste, O luckless one,
12. He whom thy seers foretell
2. Regem regum
3. Angelus consilii
4. Sol occasum nesciens,
5. Sicut sidus radium,
7. Cedrus alta Libani
8. Verbum ens Altissimi
9. Isaias cecinit,
10. Si non suis vatibus,
11. Infelix, propera,
12. Quem docet littera,
Sheet Music from Sir Richard Runciman Terry, A Medieval Carol Book: The Melodies Chiefly from MMS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1932), Carol #35, pp. 65-66.
Sheet Music to
With Hallowed Mirth from Arthur
Henry Brown, ed., The Altar Hymnal (London:
Griffith, Farrar, Okeden & Welsh, 1885), #8, p. 26.
“Laetabundus” (Ancient Plain Song)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
Sheet Music to Come Rejoicing, Faithful Men in The English Hymnal (London: Oxford University Press, 1906), Hymn #22a & b, pp. 34-39.
First tune was from the Sarum Graduale, Mode V; the second was by Nicholas C. Gatty (1874-1946).
Hymn-Melodies for the Whole Year From the Sarum Service-Books and Other Ancient English Sources. (London: The Plainsong & Medieval Music Society, 1896), "Sequences for the Principal Days of the Year from the Sarum Gradual and Other Sources," Raise Your Voices Faithful Choirs, Lætabundus, Number ii and xxi-xxii.
Sheet Music to
Voices Faithful Choirs from C.J. Ridsdale, The New Office Hymn Book.
Parts I and II. (London: Novello and Company, 1908). Part II.
The First Tune, on pp. 6-8: "Laetabundus." Modes vi. & v. transposed. Irregular. Sarum Gradual (Melody of xith or xiith Century).
The Second Tune, pp. 9-11: "Laetabundus." Irregular. Nicholas Gatty, B. Mus.
Sheet Music to Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir from John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, eds., The Hymnal Noted, Parts 1 and II. (London & New York: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1851), Hymn #94 (or 89), pp. 184-185.
Sheet Music to Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir from Thomas Helmore, ed., Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1852), pp. 307-311.
This very ancient Sequence was excluded from the Roman Missal in 1570 but survived in other traditions including Gallican, Sarum, Dominican and Carmelite liturgies. It is sung at various points during the Christmas-tide, from the Masses of Christmas Day to as late as Candlemas, Feb. 2.
In his "Notes on the Sequences," Rev. C. J. Ridsdale wrote:
118. Christmas. Laetabundus exultet fidelis chorus. Alleluia. In a MS. in the British Museum (Add. 18, 302), c. 1100, and therefore earlier than S. Bernard of Clairvaux, to whom it has generally attributed. Its use was extended throughout Europe. In the Sarum Missal it is given as a Sequence, and in the Sarum Breviary in place of a Hymn. Though clearly intended for use at Christmas, and still used in that season by the Dominicans, it is appointed in the Sarum Missal for the 4th day in the Octaves of the Visitation and the Assumption; and, in the Breviary, for the Purification and the Nativity B.V.M. The translation here given follows almost exactly that in the Second Edition of "The Hymner, 1891." "Laetabundus" represents a Sequence in its second stage, working itself out from being merely rhymical towards being strictly metrical.
Source: C.J. Ridsdale, The New Office Hymn Book. Parts I and II. (London: Novello and Company, 1908). Part II, p. iii. For the text, see: Come Ye Faithful Loud Exalt.
The venerable Dom Prosper Gueranger wrote:
"As a conclusion to our Feast, we give two favourite Pieces of the Middle-Ages, whereby our Fathers expressed their joy on this glorious Solemnity. The first is a Sequence, which is to be found in all the Roman-French Missals. For a long time, it was thought to have been written by St. Bernard: but, we have seen it in a Manuscript of the 11th Century, and, consequently, it must have been written earlier than the date usually assigned to it."
He gives 12 Latin and English verses. See: Let The Choir of All The Faithful.
The second Sequence he gave was to honor of the most Holy Mother of God; it dates from the 15th century and begins “Virgini Mariæ laudes Intonent Christiani” (“Let the Christian people hymn their praises to the Virgin Mary”). Source: Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year. Christmas. Vol. I. Third Edition. (Worcester: Stanbrook Abbey, 1918), pp. 246-247. Trans. by Rev. Dom Laurence Shepherd. See The Latin Liturgy, Christmas Day-Second Vespers.
In his Dictionary of Hymnology (p.636), Dr. John Julian wrote:
The earliest form known of this Sequence is in a Gradual apparently written in England during the 12th cent. and now in the British Museum (Reg. 2 B. iv. f. 177), and another MS. in the British Museum containing a collection of Sequences, apparently written c. 1199 (Calig. A. xiv. f. 50 b). It is in the St. Gall MS., No. 338, at p. 334, in a hand of the 13th cent. Among Missals it is found in an early 14th cent. Paris, and a 14th cent. Sens in the British Museum ; in a Sarum, c. 1370; a Hereford, c. 1370; and a York, c. 1390, all now in the Bodleian; in the St. Andrews, the Magdeburg of 1480, and many French and German Missals. It was also used as a hymn in the Sarum Breviary, e.g. in a MS. of the 14th cent, in the British Museum (Reg. 2 A. xiv. f. 187 b). The printed text is also in Daniel, ii. p. 61; Kehrein, No. 13, and others.
Of this poem Dr. Neale says " This Sequence or Hymn is of rare perfection in its kind, and perhaps as widely known as any hymn of the Church " (Medieval Hymns, 1851, p. 49). As will be seen by the note above, its use was specially general in England and in France. In the Sarum Missal it was used as the Sequence on the Fourth Day in the octave of the Assumption of the B. V. M.; and in the Sarum Breviary as a hymn at the second Vespers of the Purification, and also of the Assumption of the B. V. M. In the Hereford Missal it is appointed for use within the octave of the Epiphany ; and in the York Missal in the Mass at Daybreak on Christmas day. [J. M.]
Translations in Common Usage:-
1. Full of Gladness, Let Our Faithful Choir, &c. By J. M. Neale, in the Hymnal Noted, 1854, in 6 st.
2. With Hallowed Mirth, sing all ye faithful choirs on earth. By J. D. Chambers, in his Lauda Syon, Pt. ii., 1866, p. 65. This was repeated with slight variations in the People's Hymnal, 1867.
3. Come Ye Faithful Choirs On Earth. This rendering in the Hymnary, 1872, is based upon the Hymnal Noted as above.
4. Faithful Chorus, Loud Exult, etc. In the Hymner, 1882, is based upon the Hymnal Noted, as above.
Translations not in Common Usage:-
1. Be The Tidings. J. M Neale, in 1st ed. of his Mediæval Hymns. 1851; but afterwards omitted.
2. Full of Joy, In Sweet Accord. J. W. Hewett. 1859. [From his Verses from a Country Curate]
3. With Holy Gladness Full. J. W. Hewett. 1859. A second translation. [From his Verses from a Country Curate]
4. Now Let Thy Faithful Choirs, C. B. [Charles Buchanan] Pearson. In the Sarum Missal in English, 1868, and [a slightly different version in] his Sequences from the Sarum Missal, 1871.
In addition to this enumeration by Dr. Julian, the following additional versions, which were referenced above, exist:
For additional information about this very ancient Sequence, see:
Laetabundus: The Sequence That Would Not Die
by Brian Kelly, Catholic.org, December 19, 2012
Laetabundus at Liturgia Latina.org
Laetabundus -- the forgotten Christmas Sequence
Vox Cantoris, Saturday, December 22, 2012
Laetabundus at EWTN (English and Latin texts).
Two articles by Jeffrey Tucker at the New Liturgical Movement.org:
Sweeten Your Christmas Song: Laetabundus
Wednesday, December 2, 2009.
Includes a link to the English and Latin, plus a link to a performance hosted on YouTube.
Laetabundus, the Music
Wednesday, December 2, 2009.
Link to a new performance by Richard Rice.
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