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Sequence for Candlemas

Friday, February 02, 2007

In the 9th and 10th centuries, there arose a new form of hymnody, the Prose or Sequence which was sung after the Gradual (the anthem between the Epistle and Gospel at Mass). In the Dominican Missal, the Sequence Laetabundus, may still be sung at the Third Mass of Christmas, the Epiphany and Candlemas. It begins thus:

"Let the faithful choir
Joyfully rejoice,

The womb of the undefiled one
Has brought forth the King of kings:
A thing of wonder..."

There were quite a number of sequences written to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ, but the most famous Nativity sequence is this one. It was once sung all over Europe - the oldest surviving manuscript evidence is from the 11th century - being especially popular in England and France. Unlike other early sequences, it was written in rhymed stanzas and this came to influence later hymns and verses.

This Sequence is believed to survive today only in the Dominican liturgical books and the recording above is from Blackfriars, Oxford. The Latin words and music may be found here and a full translation here.


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