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8.554256 - Black Madonna (Ensemble Unicorn)

The Black Madonna

Pilgrimages, miracles and relics constituted important formal elements in medieval religion. They reflected the need for direct contact with the holy. Where miracles were attested or relics found, places of worship were established. In Spain and France, above all, many significant centres of pilgrimage are found and among the most important, after Santiago de Compostela, must be reckoned the monastery of Montserrat, some fifty kilometres to the East of Barcelona. With the miraculous Black Madonna, celebrated in various ways in the songs of the Llibre Vermell and in the Cantigas de Santa Maria and with its unique geographical position, the monastery from the earliest times drew many pilgrims. It is found at a height of 700 metres above sea-level above a gorge, surrounded by jagged rocky peaks. Clearly the place itself offered a strong fascination for people, since it was also the site of an earlier temple to Venus. It was about the year 1025 that the Abbot Oliba established there a Benedictine community, from the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll. In 1409 the monastery became an independent abbey.

The Llibre Vermell de Montserrat preserved there is a codex in five parts. In addition to religious writings, lists of indulgences and privileges as well as of the rules of the order, there is also a Cancionero musical with ten pieces of music, spiritual dances and songs. These were added to the 1382 codex between 1396 and 1399. The manuscript is a unique collection, in that it includes instructions on how dances were to be performed to the music. Its name, Red Book, was acquired in the nineteenth century, when it was bound in red velvet. Originally the Llibre Vermeil contained 172 double pages (folio size), of which 35 have been lost. The purpose of the music is explained in instructions before the first song: “Since the pilgrims who come to Montserrat often want to sing and dance, and that during their night vigil in the church as by day in the church square, where only orderly and pious songs are allowed, a number of suitable songs have been written, to meet that need. These should be used with due consideration, without disturbing those who wish to continue their prayers and religious meditation.” Then pilgrims are again admonished to refrain also on their way home from frivolous songs and evil dances.

The monks of Montserrat were known for their outstanding spiritual and musical culture, of which the Ars Nova notation of the codex is an indication. In the songs there is a mixture of simple Spanish folk-­melodies and complex courtly compositional technique from Italy and France. This simplicity and musical achievement is found in the three-voice virelai Mariam matrem [6], and sometimes also earthy naivety in close relationship with folk-song, as in Lo, set gotxs [12]. This last-named is a balada in Catalan with a Latin refrain, which is a paraphrase of the poem Los VII goutz de Nostra Dona of Pope Clement IV. With Los set gotxs and Cuncti simus [9], single-part virelais with repeated choral refrains, it can easily be understood how, through the numerous repetitions of the round dance (ball redon), a religious ecstasy might be induced. The chorale O Virgo splendens [7] is a contrafactum of O virgo visa from the Memoriale of the same codex. At the beginning is a note that it can be performed in one part or in canon with up to three voices. Through the hypnotic effect of the canon, as with the mantra, a trance may be induced that can lead to the attainment of the highest spirituality. The many repetitions constitute less a structural principle than the attempts of the monks to inspire the people to livelier participation.

Dancing in the church was above all a feature of early Christianity, adopted from the Jewish rite, an important element in worship. From the time of Athanasius of Miletus is recorded the tradition of dancing as an accompaniment to hymns Seasonal folk dances in the form of round dances (a ball redon) met relatively little opposition from the clergy but were not often resorted to in church. Some of the reasons for this practice that continued into the eighteenth century resulted from the lack of suitable places at night or in bad weather To this end comes a report from Bernard of Angers from 1010, on a practice in the church at Conques: “According to ancient custom the pilgrims hold their vigils in the Fides Church with candles and lamps. Since they do not understand the Latin chants of the office, they help to pass the long nights away with uneducated songs and other nonsense.”

These lively dances in the church led naturally to a ban and at the Council of Avignon in 1209 came the following declaration: “We decree that, during vigils for the saints in the churches, musicians must not perform either leaping dances with obscene gestures nor round dances; nor shall love-songs and similar songs be sung.” Basically distinction must be drawn between two kinds of dances, one of which was performed in a religious setting and in accordance with contemporary customs, and the other sort of dance that stemmed from the secular field. At Montserrat it was the second that came about, when, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Latin spiritual songs written specially by the monks were sung and played at night in the church and by day in front of it as an accompaniment to dancing. The attempt of the monks, however, to set popularly known dance-songs to decent Latin texts and thereby to steer this lively activity into more orderly paths, as suggested in the introduction to the Llibre Vermell, failed. Hardly surprisingly there was little room for the accommodation of pilgrims, with the result that the liturgy was at the centre of daily life. For dancing in the liturgy a tradition has been recorded for us from Auxerre that there was dancing at Easter with organ accompaniment to the melody of the sequence Victimae paschales, in which a ball was thrown from side to side. It is also interesting to notice that at Limoges on the feast of the patron saint St Martial there was dancing in the church to the psalms. Ecstatic dancing through many writings and pictures offers an example of medieval music therapy. Priestly dancing as an element of the divine service has now completely disappeared from the Christian rite.

The Middle Ages knew nothing of the protection of spiritual individualism. In many places we meet examples of well-tried cultural manifestations. Use was made of well-known melodies sanctified by the addition of religious texts. In no field of medieval artistic activity is copying, the so-called contrafactum, so frequently met as in the art of song. Some medieval contrafacta acknowledge the flowering of imitative composition in Northern France, based on sources derived from the trouvères or composers from Picardy. Thus Quant vol la flor [2] is based on the composition Retrowange nouvelle by Jacques de Cambrai from the year 1280. Of the same kind is Amours, ou trop tart me sui pris [5], a virelai from the second half of the thirteenth century. This is a contrafactum of Amours, a cui je me rent pris. Slight alterations from the model, like the use of changing sharps and flats bring about an ambivalence of tonality. The conjectural composer is Roïne Blance, probably a pseudonym of Blanche de Navarre, the mother of Thibaut IV of Champagne. He provides the richest source of trouvère work. In addition to many Chants d'amour, Jeux-parties, Pastourelles and Crusaders' songs, there survive only four Marian songs and only one religious lai, namely Commencerai a fere un lai [9]. The Count of Champagne and of Brie was born in 1201 at Troyes. His grandmother was a daughter of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine. In 1234, after the death of his uncle Sancho the Strong, he was crowned King of Navarre. Four years later he led an attack by the Crusaders on Jerusalem. He died in 1253 at Pamplona. His contemporary fame is attested by the fact that he won praise from Dante in his De vulgari eloquentia and from Johannes de Grocheo in his Ars musice.

The fact that many Black Madonnas were found by chance and were called Notre-Dame la Trouvée is not without deeper significance. The Occitanian word for 'find' is trobar, from which the word troubadour is derived. Yet the possibilities of the term are in no way exhausted by this, which has for one who knows the langue des oisaux so rich a store of meanings. Basically the word trobar means to express oneself in tropes, that is, to find words for a melody, and to use these in a sense that is different from the usage of normal speech. For this reason the language of the troubadours is so rich in linguistic word-play, double meanings, classical and biblical allusions, paradoxes and allegories. The problem of translation makes understanding still more difficult. In the language of gay saber, as playful as it is deceptive, not every word must be taken literally. When a troubadour sang of his beloved, he could have a real person in mind. Equally he could have also in mind the Church of Rome or the Cathar movement, to which, perhaps, he belonged, or might thus honour the Black Madonna.

If art is to become a cultural factor in the life of a people, then it needs conscious support. In this way the Church in the Middle Ages became the sole purveyor of education and learning and sought for a somewhat centralised, controlled spiritual culture. That she should also take on the care of music, the value of which for the liturgy had been recognised in early times, was natural.

The closest attention to music in the ecclesiastical sphere was set in order for a worthy and solemn arrangement of the divine service. In the ever greater dimensions that churches assumed, the lessons of the Epistle and the Gospel were brought forward to the crossing between the nave and the choir, the choir-­screen. Since the priest now had to move a longer way back again and a longer time was needed, the introductory chants for the lessons were developed into substantial compositions, to which the name conductus was given. In time these lost their original association and developed their own form, making use of the same text for a polyphonic composition. The continuation of this form, that led to the motet, made further use of a second syllabic text (qv. O Maria maris stella/O Maria virgo davitica [11]).

Another development took the versus alleluiaticus, in the balanced melismata of which cantor and choir joined. This chant allowed an expressive medium in which a syllabic Latin text to suit the occasion was added to the melisma. This was the origin of the sequence, from Northern France, which had a strong influence on subsequent secular song. The vernacular counterparts of the sequence came to be called Descort, Leich or Lai (cf. [9]).

Mary as the maternal advocate was to the people of the tenth and eleventh centuries as familiar as Christ. This adoration even took partly on the character of the rapturous homage of love. Pictures celebrated the Mother of God. Legends never tired of reporting her miracles, how, for example, the Madonna herself saved the worst sinners from perdition, if they were repentant or sought pardon by way of donations. The Cantigas de Santa Maria tell us of such stories and legends, one of the most important collections of the art of sacred song in Galego, a Galician-Portuguese hybrid language, commissioned by Alfonso X el Sabio (1221-1284). The collection includes more than four hundred songs on the miracles of Mary, some by the King himself, but for the most part by his troubadours, in fine manuscripts. Two of the four surviving codices are preserved in the Escorial monastery in Madrid, notable in particular for the beauty of their miniatures. With the King, surrounded by his men of learning, musicians of various nationalities and cultures are portrayed. In one of them there is a group of young men performing a round dance in a candle-lit church before the statue of Mary. The further representation of over forty instruments provides a particular conspectus of the medieval instrumentarium, including fidel, rebec, lute, harp, transverse flute and recorder, with various percussion instruments and others. In Cantiga No. 49 are the words: Cantando e con dança, seja por nós loada a Virgen coroñada que é noss' esperança (Singing and in dance may the crowned Virgin be honoured by us, she who is our hope).

Both the miracles of the Black Madonna of Montserrat, as well as those of other places, are described in the Cantigas de Santa Maria. In the one performed here is told the legend of how the Madonna came to the aid of an old shepherdess, who had been cheated out of her money and her sheep by a young shepherd [3], or how she brought a spring from the property of a greedy knight to thirsty monks in their monastery garden [8].

Michael Posch/Agnes Boll
English version by Keith Anderson


Cuncti simus concanentes (A ball redon)

(Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Monasterio de S. Maria)


Refrain: Cuncti simus coucanentes: Ave Maria


Virgo sola existente en affuit angelus.

Gabriel est appelatus atque missus celitus.

Clara facieque dixit: Ave Maria

Refrain: Cuncti simus…


Clara facieque dixit, audite karissimi,

en concipies, Maria: Ave Maria

Refrain: Cuncti simus…


En concipies Maria, audite karissimi,

pariesque filium: Ave Maria

Refrain: Cuncti simus…


Pariesque filium, audite karissimi,

vacabis eum Ihesum: Ave Muria

Refrain: Cuncti simus…


Let us all sing together



Let us all sing together: Hail Mary


As the Virgin was alone, lo an angel appeared.

He is called Gabriel and sent from heaven.

And with shining mien he said: Hail Mary

Let us all sing…


And with shining mien he said, hear, most beloved,

lo you shall conceive, Mary: Hail Mary

Let us all sing…


Lo you shall conceive, Mary, hear, most beloved,

you shall bear a son: Hail Mary

Let us all sing…


You shall bear a son, hear, most beloved,

you shall call him Jesus: Hail Mary

Let us all sing…



Quant voi la flor novele

(Chanson pieuse – anon. Trouvère)

(Paris, Bibl. Nouv. Acq. F. fr. 1050)


Quant voi la flor novele

florir en la praele,

lors chant chançon novele,

de la virge pucele,

qui dou lait de sa mamele le roi alaita

qui de sa char digne et belle touz nos rachata.


Pucele digne et pure,

de qui toz biens depure,

qui de pechié n'as cure,

de moi te praigne cure:

vers ton chier fiz m'asseüre par tel covenant

qu'es ciels en joie seüre soie parvenant.


Dame sainte Marie,

de grace replenie,

soiés nos en äie,

ne nos oublés mie,

qu'en iceste mortel vie puissons deservir

qu'en la vostre conpaignie puissons parvenir.


Flor de misericorde,

a ton chier fiz m'acorde,

corde si bien la corde

que jamés ne descorde,

que deable ne s'arnorde a moi descorder,

que me puisse par concorde a Dieu racorder.


Marie, douce mere,

onques ne fus amere,

de roi es fille et mere

et si portas ton pere;

or te pri, tres douce mere, plaine de pitié,

que Dex qui est nostre pere nos gel de pechié.


When I see the new flower




When I see the new flower

flower in the meadow,

then I sing a new song

to the virgin maiden,

who gives milk from her breast to feed the King

who gives his body, fair and worthy, to redeem us all.


Maiden worthy and pure,

from whom all good comes,

who is without sin:

I pray you care for me:

to your dear Son assure me through that covenant

that certain joy in Heaven may be granted.


Lady, Holy Mary,

full of grace,

hear us,

never forget us,

that in this mortal life we may deserve

that in your company we may come.


Flower of mercy,

attune me to your Son,

tune so well the string

that it make no discord,

that the Devil may not move to untune me,

that I may be in harmony in tune with God.


Mary, sweet mother,

never harsh,

the King's daughter and mother,

and you bore your father;

now I pray you, sweetest mother, full of pity,

that God who is our father cleanse us from sin.



A Madre do que a hestia

(Cantiga de Santa Maria, Nr. 147)

(Hs. El Escorial E.T.j.I., and Ms. j. b.2)


Como hüa rnoller pobre deu sa ovella a guardar a un ovelleiro, et quando ao trasquiar das ovellas, vëo a vella demandar a sun et o ovelleiro disse que a comera o lobo; et ela chamou Santa Maria de Rocamador, et a ovella brandou u la tïïnna o ovelleiro asconduda, et disse: "iEi-me acá, ei-m'acá!".


Refrain: A Madre do que a bestia de Balaam falar fez ar fez pois hüa ovella ela falar hüa fez.


Esto fez Santa Maria

por hüa pohre moller

que a de grado servia

come quen ben servir quer;

e porend' lla un dia

valeu-ll' u lle foi mester

e mostrou y seu miragre, que vos non foi mui rafez.

Refrain: A Madre do que…


Aquesta moller mesquÿa

de quanto pud' achegar

conprou hüa ovellÿa

e foy-a dar a guardar

a un pegureir' agÿa,

e pois ao trosquiar

fol en demandar a läa pola vender por seu prez.

Refrain: A Madre do que…


Mas o pergureir' astroso

a ovella ascondeu

e come cobiiçoso

diss’: "O lobo a comeu."

A vella por mentiroso

o tev' end', e lle creceu

tal coita por ssa ovella que tornou tal come pez.

Refrain: A Madre do que…


E disse: "Ay, Groriosa,

a mia ovella me dà,

ca tu end' es poderosa

de o fazer." E dalá

du jazia a astrosa

ovella diss': "Ey-m'acá."

E assi Santa Maria aquest' engano desfez.

Refrain: A Madre do que…


E a vella mui festynno

ssa ovella trosquiou,

e meteu-ss' ao camÿo

e quanto más pad' andou,

a costas seu velocÿo;

A Rocamador chegou,

dizend': "Esto fez a Virgen que sempre teve belmez."

Refrain: A Madre do que…


The Mother or Him




How a poor woman gave her sheep into the keeping or a shepherd, and when it was time to shear the sheep, the old woman came to ask for her sheep and the shepherd said that the wolf had eaten it; and she called on Holy Mary of Rocamadour, and the sheep bleated from where the shepherd had hidden it, and said: "I-i a-a-m he-ere, I-i a-am he-ere".


The Mother or Him who made Balaam's donkey speak also made a sheep speak.


This Holy Mary did

for a poor woman

who was pleased to serve her,

as one who willingly serves;

and then one day in need

she helped her

and showed a miracle, that was no small thing.

The Mother of Him….


This wretched woman

with whatever she had

bought a sheep

and gave it for keeping

to a shepherd

and when shearing came

she asked for it, to sell for a price.

The Mother of Him…


But the cunning shepherd

hid the sheep

and as a greedy fellow

said "The wolf ate it".

The old woman knew he lied

and now became

so angry, she was in a rage.

The Mother of Him…


And she said: "Ah, glorious one,

give me my sheep,

for you have the power

to do so." And then

from where it lay the clever

sheep said "H-e-ere I a-a-am".

And so Holy Mary laid bare this plot.

The Mother of Him…


And the old woman hurried

to shear her sheep,

and set out on her way

and with the fleece on her back

went quickly

to Rocamadour,

saying: "This is the doing of the Virgen, who always guards us."

The Mother of Him…



Amours, ou trop tart me sui pris

(Chansou mariale – La Roïne Blance)

(Quelle: Paris, Bibl. Nat., nouv. Acq. fr. 21677)


Amours, ou trop tart me sui pris

m’a par sa signourie opris,

douce Dame de paradis

ke de vous vœill un cant canter.

Refrain: Pour la joie ki puet durer, Vous doit on servir et amer


Et pour çou ke nus n'a mespris.

Tant vers vo fill n'en fais n'en dis.

S'il s'est en vo service mis.

Ke vous nel faciés racorder.

Refrain: Pour la joie…


Virge raïne, flours de lis,

com li hom a de ses delis

ki de vous amer est espris,

nus hom nel saroit reconter.

Refrain: Pour la joie…


Mout fu li vaisaiaus bien eslis,

dauce Dame, ou Sains Esp(e)ris

fu IX mois tous entiers nouris:

Ce fu vos cuers, dame sans per!

Refrain: Pour la joie…


Love, where late am I caught




Love, where late am I caught,

has lordship over me,

sweet Lady of Paradise

I would sing of you a song.

For the joy that will last forever,

We must serve and love you.


And for that, with no despite,

to you in deed or word,

if it be to serve you

that you hold it in memory.

For the joy…


Virgin Queen, lily flower,

as a man finds delight

in love for you,

none would demur.

For the joy…


Laden was the vessel,

sweet Lady, where the Holy Spirit

for nine months took sustenance:

it was your heart, matchless Lady.

For the joy…



Quant ay lo mon consirat

(Chanson pieuse – anon. Troubadour)

(HS Madrid, Bibl. Nac. 105)


Refrain:   Quant ay lomón consirat

               totl'als es nient mas Deu,

               e com be·m son a pensat

               lo comyat es for(t)ment greu.


E car nos em de greus pecatz caregats,

si·u enquerem, podra·ns esser perdonat,

car Senyor tai avem cui plad merce, pus que platz,

c'aixi n'es acustumat.

Refrain: Quant ay lomón consirat…


Aytal Senyor devem tembre e honrar,

qui pernos totz se volc tant humiliar,

can trames l'angel seu per la dona (verge) saludar,

e·l plac en ela entrar.

Refrain: Quant ay lomón consirat…


Quan so fe fayt per nosaltres a salvar,

sus en la cratz lo seu sang volc escampar,

e apres la seu'mort al terç yorn ressucitar,

que·ns pugues totz deliurar.

Refrain: Quant ay lomón consirat…


Al quarante dia vulc al cel puyar,

e·l cinquante Sent Espirit enviyar,

per zu que·ls enflames e poguessin preicar

la fe per nos a salvar

Refrain: Quant ay lomón consirat…


Apres la fi del mon, venra per iutyar

los bons e·ls mals, segons lur merit, cobrar

gasardo e trabar, car axi cave a far,

per dretura a salvar.

Refrain: Quant ay lomón consirat…


Endreça: Han preyarem totz ensems lo Creador que·ns do s'amor e·ns gart de mal e d'error.


If I consider the world




If I consider the world

there is nothing but God

and I know well

that leaving it will be sad.


And as we are weighed down with sins,

we seek for forgiveness,

for the Lord has mercy,

and will always forgive.

If I consider…


The Lord must be feared and honoured,

who has so humbled himself for us,

who through the angel greeted the Virgin,

and dwelt in her.

If I consider…


He did all he could to save us,

shed on the cross his blood,

and the third day after his death he rose,

to redeem us all.

If I consider…


After forty days he rose to Heaven

and on the fiftieth sent the Holy Spirit

to inspire and preach

the faith that saves us.

If I consider…


At the end of the world, he will come to judge

the good and the bad, as they deserve,

gathering them in and finding, as he can,

the means to salvation

If I consider…



Mariam, Matrem Virginem

(Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Monasterio de S. Maria)


Refrain: Mariam, matrem Virginem, attolite, Ihesum Christum extollite concorditer.


Maria, seculi asilum, defende nos,

Ihesu, tutum refugium, exaudi nos.

Iam estis nos totaliter diffugium,

tatum mundi confugium realiter.

Refrain: Mariam, matrem Virginem, attolite,…


Ihesu, supprema bonitas verissima,

Maria, dulcis pietas gratissima.

Amplissima conformiter sit caritas

ad nos, que pellit vanitas enormiter.

Refrain: Mariam, matrem Virginem, attolite,…


Maria, Virgo humilis, te colimus,

Ihesu, desiderabilis, te querimus,

et volumus mentaliter in superis

frui cum sanctis angelis perhepniter.

Refrain: Mariam, matrem Virginem, attolite,…


Praise Mary, Virgin mother

Praise Mary, Virgin mother,

honour with her Jesus Christ.

Mary, shelter of mankind, defend us;

Jesus, safe refuge, hear us.

Now you are our whole protection,

truly the complete haven of the world.

Praise Mary, Virgin mother…


Jesus, supreme and truest goodness,

Mary, sweet most gracious kindness.

May your charity be as full

to us, as the world's vanity compels.

Praise Mary, Virgin mother…


Mary, humble Virgin, we honour you,

Jesus, desirable, we seek after you,

and we would have joy above

with the holy angels for ever.

Praise Mary, Virgin mother…



O virgo splendens

(Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Monasterio de S. Maria)

Antiphona dulcis armonia dulcissime virginis Marie de monte serrato. Caça de duobus vel tribus.


O virgo splendens hic in monte celso

miraculis serrato fulgentibus ubique

quem fideles conscendunt universi.

Eya, pietatis oculo placuto

cerne ligatos fune peccutorum;

ne infernorum ictibus graventur

sed cum beatis tua prece vocentur.


O Virgin resplendent

Antiphon: Gentle harmony of the gentlest Virgin Mary of Montserrat. Round for two or three voices.


O Virgin resplendent here on the lofty mountain,

jagged with its shining miracles about,

which all the faithful climb.

Ah, with an eye of mercy

see those bound by the bonds of sin,

let them not be weighed down by the blows of Hell

but be called by your prayers to be with the blessed.



Tanto son da groriosa
(Cantiga de Santa Maria, Nr. 48)
(Hs. El Escorial E.T.j.I, und Ms. j. b.2)

Esta é como Santa Maria tolleu a agua da fonte ao cavaleiro en cuja erdade estava, et a deu aos frades de Monsarrad a que a el queria vender.


"Ai Santa Maria, a nossa coyta veede, e con Deus, o vosso Fillo, que todo pode, pöede que nos dé algun consello, que non moiramos de sede, veend'agua conos ollos e seer desejoso."

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa seus feitos mui piadosos,

que fill'aos que an muyto et dá aos menguadosos.


E daquest'un gran miragre fez pouc' á en Catalonna a Virgen Santu Maria, que con Jesu-Cristo ponna que no dia do joyzo possamos ir sen vergonna ant' el e que non vaamos u yrán os soberviosos.

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…


Monsarrat éste chamado o logar u é a fonte saboroça, grand' e crara, que naç’ encima dun monte, que era dun cavaleiro; e d'outra parte de fronte avia un möesteyro de monges religiosos.

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…


Mas en uquel möesteiro ponto d'ugua non avia se non quant' o cavaleiro da fonte lles dar queria, por que os monges lle davan sa renta da abadia; e quando lla non conprian, ersan dela perdidosos .

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…


E demais, sobre tad' esto, el asi os pennarava,

que quanto quer que achasse do möesteiro fillava;

E porend' aquel convento en tan gran coita estava,

que non cantavan as oras e andavan mui chorosos.

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…

Dizend': "Ai Santa Maria, a nossa coyta veede, E con Deus, o vosso Fillo, que todo pode, pöede que nos dé algun consello, que non muiramos de sede, veend'agua conos ollos e seer desejoso."

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…


Pois ssa oraçun fezeron, a Sennor de piadade fez que sse canbiou a fonte ben dentro na sa erdade dos monges, que ant' avian da agua gran soidade, e des alia adeante foron dela avondosos.

Refrain: Tanto son da groriosa…


So glorious

This is how Holy Mary diverted a spring of a gentleman in whose property it was and gave it to the brothers of Montserrat, to whom he wanted to sell the water.

"Ah, Holy Mary, see our misery and with God, your Son, that can do all, help us with your counsel, that we may not die of thirst, seeing water and desiring it."

So glorious are her very merciful deeds,

who takes from those who have much and gives to the poor.

And from this the Holy Virgin wrought in Catalonia a great miracle, who with Jesus Christ, ordained that we should pay honour to him and not tread the path of the proud.

So glorious…


Montserrat the place is called where the pleasant spring is, great and bright, on the peak of a mountain, that was a gentleman's; and on the other side there was a monastery of religious monk.

So glorious…


But in that monastery there was no drop of water and they sought it from the gentleman's spring, for which the monks of the abbey had to pay and when they did not buy, they would die.

So glorious…


And further, after all this, he caused them grief,

as they sought to buy water for the monastery;

and the community was in great misery

so that they did not sing the office and were lamenting.

So glorious…


Saying: "Ah, Holy Mary, see our misery, and with God, your Son, who can do all, help us with your counsel, that we may not die of thirst, seeing water and desiring it."

So glorious…


Then the Lord of mercy answered their prayer and diverted the spring to the property of the monks, that before had great need of water, and from then on they had water.

So glorious…



Comencerai a faire un lai (strophes de lai marial)

(Paris, Bibl. Nat., fr. 844, Thibaut de Champagne)



a fere un lai

de la meillor

forment m'esmai

que trop par ai jet de dolor

dont mi chant toront a plor.


Meree virge savoree

se vos faites demoree

deproier le haut Segnor

bien doit avoir grant paor

du deable du felon

qui en la noire prison

nos velt mener

dont nus ne puet eschaper


Et j'ai forfet douce Dame

a perdre le cors et l'ame

se ne m'aidiez!

Douz Diex aiez merci

de mes vix pechiés.

Ou sera merci trovee

s'ele est de vos refusee,

(qui tant vales)?

Sire, droiture oubliés

et destendés vostre corde


si viegne misericorde

por nos aidier!

nos avons de droit mestiers;

quant seur tos es,

avoir merci.


Biaux douz sire, je vos pri,

ne mé metez en oublie

se pitiés ne vaint vengance

dont seronz nos sans doutantce

trop mal mené.


Dame plene de bonté,

votre dous mos savoré.

Ne soient pas oublié

proiés por nos!

Jamés ne serons rescous,

se ne le so mes parvos.

De voir le sai

ci (ma chançon) laisserai

et Dex nos doinst sans delai

avoir son secors verai.


I will start to compose a lay



I will start

to compose a lay

about the best of women,


that too many are of grief,

songs of lament.


Mother, wise Virgin,

if you cease

to pray to God on high

we shall have great fear

of the wicked Devil,

who into dark prison

would lead us,

whence none can escape.


And I tear, gentle Lady,

to lose body and soul,

if you do not help.

Gentle God, have mercy

for my grievous sins.

Where should I find mercy,

if you deny it,

that are so mighty?

Lord, forget justice

and loosen the bow-string,


out of your mercy

to help us.

We need your pity;

as you are almighty,

have mercy.


Fair gentle Lord, I beg you,

do not forget me

if you do not have pity,

we shall surely be

treated badly.


Lady, full of goodness,

your gentle words

shall not be forgotten,

pray for us.

Never shall we be saved,

except through you,

I know well.

Here I leave my song

and God grant us without delay

his true help.



Cantiga de Santa Maria; Nr. 77/119 (instrumental)

(Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Monasterio de S. Maria)





O Maria, maris stella

(Codex Las Huelgas, Burgos, BUlh)


Cantus 1:

O Maria, maris stella,

plena gracie,

mater simul et puella,

vas mundicie,

templum nostri redemptoris,

sol iusticie,

porta celi, spes reorum,

tronus glorie,

sub levatrix miserorum,

vena venie,

audi servos te rogantes,

mater gracie,

ut peccata sint ablata

per te hodie,

qui te puro laudant

corde in veritate.


Cantus 2:

O Maria, virgo davitica,

Virginum flos, vite spes unica,

via venie, lux gracie,

mater clemencie

sola iubes in arce celica,

obediunt tibi milicie,

sola sedes in trono glorie,

gracia plena fulgens deica,

stella stupent de tua specie

sol, luna de tua potencia;

que luminari a in meridie

tua facie vincis omnia.

Precepia mitiga filium,

miro modo cuius es filia,

ne iudicemur in contrarium,

sed del eterne vite premia.


Tenor instrumental: (In veritate)


O Mary, star of the sea




O Mary, star of the sea,

full of grace,

mother and maid,

vessel of purity,

temple of our Redeemer,

sun of justice,

gate of Heaven, hope of sinners,

throne of glory,

helper of the wretched,

means of pardon,

hear your servants that call on you,

mother of grace,

that sins may be taken away

through you today,

who with pure heart

praise you in truth.



O Mary, virgin of David's kin,

flower of virgins, sole hope of life,

way of pardon, light of grace,

mother of clemency,

alone you command in Heaven's vault,

armies obey you,

alone you sit on the throne of glory,

shining, full of divine grace,

the star at your sight stands mute,

sun, moon at your power;

you who all the noonday brightness

conquer with your countenance

Queen, soften your son,

whose daughter, by miracle, you are,

lest we be condemned,

but let him grant the reward of eternal life.



Los set gotxs

(Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, Monasterio de S. Maria)

Bullada dels goytxs de Nostre Dona en vulgar cathallan; a ball redon


Los set gotxs recomptarem

et devotament xantant.

humilment saludarem

la dolça Verge Maria.

Ave Maria, gracia plena,

Dominus tecum, Virgo serena

Refrain: Ave Maria, gracia plena, Dominus tecum, Virgo serena


Verge fos anans del part,

pura e sens falliment,

en lo part e' pres lo part,

sens negun corrumpiment.


La Fill de Deus, Verge pia,

de vos nasque verament

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Verge, tres reys d'Orient

cavalcan ab gran corage,

ab l'estella precedent

venegren al vostr' ebitage,


Offerint vos de gradatge

aur et mirre et encenç.

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Verge, (e)stant dolorosa

per la mort del Fill molt car,

romangues tota joyosa,

can lo vis resuscitar.


A vos, Madre piadosa,

primer se volch demostrar.

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Verge, lo quint alegrage

que'n agues del Fill molt car,

estant al Munt d'Olivatge

al cell lo'n vehes puyar.


On aurem tots alegratge,

si per nos vos plau pregar

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Verge, quan foren complits

los dies de Pentacosta,

ab vos eren aunits

los apostols, et decosta,


sobre tots sens nuylla costa,

devullà l'Esperit Sant.

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Verge, .l derrer alegratge

que'n agues en aquest mon,

voster Fill ab gran coratge

vos muntà al cel pregon,


on sots tots temps coronada

Regina perpetual.

Refrain: Ave Maria…


Tots donques nos esforcem,

en aquesta present vida,

que peccats foragitem

de nostr' anima mesquina.


E vos, dolçe Verge pia,

vuyllats nos ho empetrar.

Refrain: Ave Maria…


The Seven Joys

Ballade of the joys of Our Lady

in common Catalan; a round.

I shall tell of the seven joys

and sing in devotion.

I shall humbly praise

the gentle Virgin Mary.

Hail Mary, full of grace,

the Lord be with you, serene Virgin.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord be with you, serene Virgin.


Virgin, you came forth

pure and without fault,

in your labour and after labour

without corruption.


The Son of God, pious Virgin,

was truly born of you.

Hail Mary…


Virgin, three kings of Orient,

rode with great courage,

following the star,

and came to your dwelling.


They offer you gifts

of gold and myrrh and incense.

Hail Mary…


Virgin, grieving

for the death of your very dear Son,

your joy returned

when you saw him rise again.


To you, kind Mother,

would I pray.

Hail Mary…


Virgin, the fifth joy

that you had of your very dear Son,

was on the Mount of Olives,

when you saw him ascend to Heaven.


We shall all rejoice

if you pray for us.

Hail Mary…


Virgin, when were accomplished

the days of Pentecost,

you were together

with the apostles and others,


over all, freely,

descended the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary…


Virgin, the last joy

you had not in this world,

your Son with great courage

took you to Heaven,


where, crowned for all time,

you reign, Queen for ever.

Hail Mary…


Let us all then strive,

in this present life,

to oust sin

from our wretched souls.


And you, gentle pious Virgin,

help us in our prayers.

Hail Mary…

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