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The songs of Johannes Decanus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 March 2011


Included in the collection of cantiones and Benedicamus tropes copied at the end of the Moosburger Graduale (München, Universitätsbibliothek, CIM 100 [olim 2o Cod. ms. 156], ff. 30v–250v) are five songs attributed to ‘Johannes Decanus’ (Johannes de Perchausen, †15.VIII.1362). In his preface to the song collection, Johannes describes three distinct repertoires (those ‘sung from antiquity’, ‘a few modern songs’ and ‘some of my own [songs]’) and through the examination of concordances it is possible to sort the songs into each of Johannes's categories. Against this background, three of Johannes's songs (Mos florentis venustatis, Flos campi profert lilium and Ad cultum tue laudis) demonstrate the consistent use of melodic rhyme, internal repetition of phrase units in both the verses and the refrains, and clear modal centring, found in most of the other Latin songs in the Moosburg collection. Two songs (Castis psallamus mentibus, and his Benedicamus trope, Florizet vox dulcisonans), however, represent a radical departure from these ‘norms’, through the unusual structuring of their melodies. These anomalous songs may reflect Johannes's desire to stretch the training and musicality of the young students of the Moosburg church with more modern melodic concepts.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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1 Moosburger Graduale, München, Universitätsbibliothek, 2o Cod. ms. 156: Faksimile mit einer Einleitung und Registern, ed. Hiley, David, Veröffentlichungen der Gesellschaft für Bayerische Musikgeschichte (Tutzing, 1996)Google Scholar , XVIII. All references to the folios of this manuscript will use the numeration provided in this facsimile.

2 Stein, Franz A., Das Moosburger Graduale, Inaugural Dissertation (Universität Freiburg/Breisgau, 1956), 160Google Scholar , n. 29; Lipphardt, Walter, ‘Das Moosburger Cantionale’, in Jahrbuch für Liturgie und Hymnologie, 3 (1957), 117Google Scholar : ‘In Wirklichkeit birgt die Hs. eine Fülle von Melodien, die in ähnlicher Weise untersucht werden mußten.’

3 In addition to the sources cited in n. 2, see Spanke, Hans, ‘Das Mosburger Graduale’, in Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, 50 (1930), 582595Google Scholar .

4 This biographical summary is based on Hiley, XV–XVI, who summarises the information in Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale; Stein, Franz A., ‘Das Moosburger Graduale (1354–60) als Quelle geistlicher Volkslieder’, Jahrbuch für Liturgie und Hymnologie, 2 (1956), 9397Google Scholar ; and Grain, Vitus, ‘Zur Liturgiegeschichte des Kastulusstiftes in Moosburg’, Sammelblatt des historischen Vereins Freising, 15 (Freising, 1927), 73102Google Scholar .

5 Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 4, n. 4; Hiley, XV.

6 Grain, ‘Zur Liturgiegeschichte’, 73: ‘A.D. 1362, Aug 15. Johannis Perchawß dec(anus) ecclesie Mospurgensis ob(iit)’; Hiley, XV.

7 Hiley, XI–XII and XIV–XVII.

8 See fols. 90r–91r, 91v, 93r, 148v, 51v–152r, 174r/v (Summa sollempnitas adest hodierna) and 215v–216r (Imperatrix angelorum).

9 See fols. 48v (marginal addition of text and music), 93v (marginal addition of text and music), 98r (addition of text and music for Alleluia: Sancti spiritus domine), 157r (excision of incorrect text), 160v (addition of a Sanctus), 161r (addition of an Agnus Dei) and 226v (line 9, addition of ‘non’).

10 Two B flats were added in red ink (f. 61v, l. 5; and f. 248r, l.13) and one in blue (f. 207v, l. 7).

11 This is what Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 4, apparently refers to as ‘Faszikle 5’: ‘Das Vorwort zu Fasz. 5 auf fol. 232v “Alma mater ecclesia”, in dem sich Johannes Perchauser als Dekan bezeichnet’.

12 Tanner, Norman P., ed. and trans., Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, 2 vols. (Washington, DC, 1990), I, 328Google Scholar (Latin) and 329 (English); slight emendations.

13 Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 141, n. 6, notes that Johannes has slightly altered the text of the original decretal by replacing ‘conciones’ (orations) with ‘canciones’ (songs).

14 For a brief discussion of the ‘boy bishop’ in the broader context of the ‘Feast of Fools’, see John Stevens and Nicky Losseff, ‘Feast of Fools [Festum stultorum; Festum fatuorum]’, Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online (accessed 26 December 2006). A detailed investigation of the Beauvais office for this feast has been provided by Arlt, Wulf, Ein Festoffizium des Mittelalters aus Beauvais in seiner liturgischen und musikalischen Bedeutung, 2 vols. (Cologne, 1970)Google Scholar . In addition, I have also consulted Fassler, Margot, ‘The Feast of Fools and Danielis ludus: Popular Tradition in a Medieval Cathedral Play’, in Plainsong in the Age of Polyphony, ed. Kelly, Thomas Forrest, Cambridge Studies in Performance Practice 2 (Cambridge, 1992), 6599Google Scholar ; Gilhus, Ingvild Salid, ‘Carnival in Religion: The Feast of Fools in France’, Numen, 27/1 (June, 1990), 2452Google Scholar ; Tebbutt, C.F., ‘Boy Bishop Coins’, Folklore, 71/2 (June, 1960), 104105CrossRefGoogle Scholar ; and a brief communication by ‘C.H.D.’ in The Musical Times, 59/909 (1918), 505Google Scholar , in which the author discusses a proclamation by Henry VIII suppressing the observances of St Nicholas's and Childermas Days.

15 The Latin of this rubric could imply either that this cantio was sung while the boy bishop was dancing, or perhaps it would have been sung as a conductus when the boy bishop was processing outside the church to dance in a more appropriate location. Concerning the interpretation of chorea as carole, see Page, Christopher, Voices & Instruments of the Middle Ages: Instrumental Practice and Songs in France 1100–1300 (Berkeley, 1986), 7784Google Scholar . The use of the term cantio in the Moosburger Graduale contrasts with the usage of Stevens, John, Words and Music in the Middle Ages: Song, Narrative, Dance and Drama, 1050–1350 (Cambridge, 1986), 5051Google Scholar , who restricted its application to ‘art-songs of a less obviously functional and, often, more ambitious nature’.

16 These tables are based primarily upon Anderson, Gordon A., ‘Notre Dame and Related Conductus: A Catalogue Raisonné, Australian Musicological Commission Source Research Catalogue No. 1’, Miscellanea Musicologica (Adelaide Studies in Musicology), 6 (1972), 153229Google Scholar , and 7 (1975), 1–81, with some of my own additions. I have included Anderson's catalogue number, which is prefixed with a letter delineating his different categories: I = ‘two-part conductus in two central sources’, L = ‘one-part conductus in related sources’, O = ‘three-part conductus in related sources’, and P = ‘two-part conductus in related sources’. The ‘Moosburg’ numbers are taken from Spanke, , ‘Das Mosburger Graduale’, 588–95. The songs in Anderson's category L from the Moosburger Graduale will be published in Notre Dame Conductus: Opera Omnia, vol. 7, Conductus in Non-Central Sources, ed. Brewer, Charles E. (Ottawa: Institute of Mediæval Music, forthcoming)Google Scholar ; the five songs by Johannes de Perchausen will be included with full critical notes.

17 The importance of the choirboys in the liturgy of the Church of St Castulus is evident not only in the document from 1357 (‘Tabula vero chorali liceat uti scholaribus in choro, quia ipsa cantinet cantum, qui in nostro choro per solos pueros solet decantari’; Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 6) but also within the Moosburger Graduale, as implied by Johannes de Perchausen's preface as well as in the rubrics, such as on f. 250v where the Benediction for the bishop specifies the alternation between one ‘puer’ and a ‘puer alter’.

18 The following tables of concordances use the standard RISM sigla for manuscripts with the following exceptions: ‘Hortus’ refers to Herrad of Landsberg, Abbess of Hohenburg, Hortus deliciarum, ed. Green, Rosalie (London, 1979)Google Scholar ; ‘Prosolarium Aniciense’ refers to Chevalier, Ulysse, ed., Prosolarium Ecclesiae Aniciense: Office en vers de la Circoncision en usage dans l'église du Puy, Bibliothèque liturgique 5/1 (Paris, 1894)Google Scholar . For information on ‘Le Puy’, see Arlt, Wulf, ‘The Office for the Feast of the Circumcision from Le Puy’, in The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages, ed. Fassler, Margot E. and Baltzer, Rebecca A. (Oxford, 2000), 324343CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

19 The index numbers preceded by ‘Chev’ are derived from Chevalier, Ulysse, Repertorium hymnologicum: catalogue des chants, proses, tropes en usage dans l'eglise latine, 6 vols. (Louvain, 1892–1912; Brussels, 1920–1921)Google Scholar .

20 While the use of traditional modal designations has frequently been the subject for debate among scholars of medieval monophonic song, I feel its use is appropriate here primarily for the following two reasons: 1) given the evident musical skill of Johannes de Perchausen and his likely responsibility to teach the boys to sing chant, this would have been perhaps the most likely theoretical framework in which these songs would have been understood at that time, especially since, 2) they are copied as part of the working liturgical repertoire of chant and song for the Moosburg church represented by the gradual as a whole. Certainly, mode does not fully account for all the intricacies in these or other monophonic Latin songs; see, for example, the subtle analyses of Rankin, Susan, ‘Some Medieval Songs’, Early Music, 31/3 (2003), 326344CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

21 Page, Voices & Instruments of the Middle Ages, 12–16.

22 Concerning these songs, see Steiner, Ruth, ‘Some Monophonic Songs Composed around 1200’, The Musical Quarterly, 52/1 (1966), 5670CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

23 In discussion at the Niederaltaich meeting of the Cantus Planus Study Group, Dr Konrad Ruhland correctly noted that many of the chromatic indications in these songs appear to be later additions. In his edition of this song, which is a facsimile from the manuscript, most of the chromatic alterations are not very visible; Ruhland, Konrad, Weihnachtsgesänge aus dem Moosburger Graduale von 1360 (München, 1979), 5Google Scholar . On the recording of the song by the Capella Antiqua München and the Niederaltaicher Scholaren, led by Dr Ruhland, the song is sung clearly in F major and does not use the B-quadratum in either the verse or chorus; The Moosburg Graduale of 1360 (Sony SBK 63178).

24 I have primarily used the transcription in van der Werf, Hendrik, The Oldest Extant Part Music And the Origin of Western Polyphony, 2 vols. (Rochester, NY, 1993), II, 9293Google Scholar , though I have also consulted reproductions of the manuscript (a microfilm and the printed facsimile [Paris B.N., Fonds Latin 3549 and London, B.L., Add. 36,881, ed. Bryan Gillingham, Publications of Mediæval Musical Manuscripts 16 (Ottawa, 1987), 72–3]) and other transcriptions by Gillingham, Bryan, Saint-Martial Mehrstimmigkeit/Saint-Martial Polyphony, Musicological Studies XLIV (Henryville, 1984), 181Google Scholar , and Karp, Theodore, The Polyphony of Saint Martial and Santiago de Compostela, 2 vols. (Berkeley, 1992), II, 76Google Scholar .

25 Both of these songs have been edited by Anderson, Gordon A., Notre-Dame and Related Conductus, 9 vols. (Henryville, PA, 1978–88)Google Scholar , who includes transcriptions of both the polyphonic versions and the melodies from the Graduale, Moosburger; Verbum patris humanatur, 9, 1617Google Scholar (though here number ‘O6’), and In natali summi regis, 10: 65–6.

26 Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 145.

27 A summary of the modal characteristics for Latin monophonic song in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is provided in Brewer, Charles E., ‘Vacillantis trutine libramine: The Problem of Tetrardus Melodies in Latin Cantilene’, in Cantus Planus: Papers read at the Fifth Meeting [I.M.S. Study Group on Chant] Eger, Hungary, 1993, 2 vols. (Budapest, 1995), 2: 814817Google Scholar . Among the 159 songs analysed from this specific repertoire (including Aquitanian versus, the songs from F fascicle X, and other monophonic Latin songs included in Anderson's category L), only two have a final on E. This can be compared to the repertoire in the Moosburger Graduale, in which twelve songs have the characteristics of mode III: Fulget dies hec preceteris (L96), De supernis sedibus (L99), Mater summi domini (L101), Ave virgo mater intemerata (L104), Flos campi profert lilium (L105), Ad cultum tue laudis (L106), Christi sit nativitas (L108), Ecce iam celebria (L109), Evangelizo gaudium (L110), Letetur turba puerorum (L111), Tribus signis deo dignis (L113), and Stella nova radiat (L114). Aside from the two songs by Johannes, the remaining ten can all be found above in my Table 2: ‘A few modern [songs]’.

28 The unique use of a new melodic phrase in the refrain is what was probably meant by Stein when he wrote (Das Moosburger Graduale, 153) ‘in der Form weicht es aber von seinen anderen Kompositionen etwas ab’.

29 A summary of starting pitches in Latin songs of Mode VII/VIII is given in Table 1D of Brewer, ‘Vacillantis trutine libramine’, vol. 2, 817.

30 See the comparative transcription in van der Werf, Hendrik and Bond, Gerald A., The Extant Troubadour Melodies: Transcriptions and Essays for Performers and Scholars (Rochester, NY, 1984), 62*71*Google Scholar .

31 Stein, Das Moosburger Graduale, 160: ‘In Melodik und Modalität zeichnet sich die Entfernung vom traditionellen Choral sehr deutlich ab; dafür wird die Annäherung an die Dur-Moll-Tonalität offenbar, wenn auch noch nicht von Dur und Moll gesprochen werden kann’.

32 de Machaut, Guillaume, Œuvres Complètes, ed. Schrade, Leo, 5 vols. (Monaco, 1977), 5: 31Google Scholar . Both this work and the following Machaut virelai are discussed in greater detail by Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel J., ‘The well-formed virelai’, in Trent'anni di ricerche musicologiche: Studi in onore di F. Alberto Gallo, ed. Vecchia, Patrizia Dalla and Restani, Donatella, Miscellanea musicologica, No. III: 2 (Roma, 1996), 125142Google Scholar .

33 I have listened to the following recordings of Comment qu'a moy lonteinne: Douce Dame: Music of Courtly Love from Medieval France and Italy, The Waverly Consort, Michael Jaffee (Vanguard Classics OVC 8201); L'art musical et poétique de Guillaume de Machaut (1300–1377), Ensemble Guillaume de Machaut de Paris, Guy Robert (Ades 203712); Machaut: Chansons Volume I, Studio der frühen Musik, Thomas Binkley (EMI Reflexe CDM 7 63142 2); The Medieval Romantics: French Songs and Motets, 1340–1440, Gothic Voices, Christopher Page (Hyperion CDA 66463); Guillaume de Machaut: Ay mi! Lais et virelais, Emmanuel Bonnardot, voice and fiddles (Opus 111 OPS 30–171); and Pastourelle: The Art of Machaut and the Trouvères, Fortune's Wheel (Dorian DOR-93245).

34 Machaut, Œuvres Complètes, 5: 34.

35 For further studies of Machaut's approach to melody, in addition to Leech-Wilkinson, ‘The well-formed virelai’, see also Plumley, Yolanda, The Grammar of 14th-Century Melody: Tonal Organization and Compositional Process in the Chansons of Guillaume de Machaut and the Ars Subtilior (New York, 1996)Google Scholar , especially her study of selected monophonic virelais on 91–111; and Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel J., ‘Not just a pretty tune: Structuring devices in four Machaut virelais’, Sonus: A Journal of Investigations into Global Musical Possibilities, 12/1 (1991), 1631Google Scholar . Concerning the broader issues of fourteenth-century style, see Fuller, Sarah, ‘Modal discourse and fourteenth-century French song: A “medieval” perspective recovered?’, Early Music History: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music, 17 (1998), 61108CrossRefGoogle Scholar , and especially Fuller, Sarah, ‘Delectabatur in hoc auris: Some Fourteenth-Century Perspectives on Aural Perception’, The Musical Quarterly, 82/3–4 (1998), 466481CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Fuller's study of aural perception was of significance to this project since it was through the performances by the Schola Cantorum of The Florida State University that some of the insights of this paper were first discovered.

36 The notes enclosed in parentheses occur only in verses 2 and 3.

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