Musicus Online Museum

Grates nunc omnes

Neumatized sequence: Grates nunc omnes


This brief (and rare) sequence was sung at the first Christmas mass in German-speaking areas. Its melody, known as Ostende nobis, was widely sung throughout England, France, and parts of the Italian peninsula and was typically reserved for the season of Advent.

A thirteenth-century ordinal from cathedral at Bamberg (southern Germany) gives specific instructions for the performance of this sequence on Christmas Eve. The choir was to sing the sequence; the canons should sing the (wordless) melody. It is not clear whether the texted and wordless phrases were sung simultaneously, or in alternation. The brevity of the sequence and its unusual aparallel structure might have prompted such melodic repetition. (See Qui regis sceptra for a similar case.) The specified roles of the choir and canons at Bamberg Cathedral may also have been intended to symbolize the alternation of earthly and heavenly musical forces, singing in texted and wordless form alike. Divine and human song unite in the final verse of Grates nunc omnes: “It is right that we should sing with the angels unceasingly “glory in the highest” This idealized union of expression is a common topic in neumatized sequence texts.