Musicus Online Museum
Untexted sequence melody: Letatus sum
Most of the sequences in this gallery alternate between texted and wordless segments. This example (Letatus sum) represents an older tradition of entirely untexted melodies. These melodies harken back to the earliest form of the sequence: a long, ecstatic “melisma” (i.e. untexted passage) on the final syllable of the Alleluia chant. While these melodies were gradually joined to texts in the following centuries, several northern French sources of the later Middle Ages suggest a return to – or persistence of – this older “wordless” tradition. These sources prescribe the singing of untexted sequence melodies (such as Letatus sum) in the season of Advent, the period of preparation in the church year for Christ’s birth. These untexted melodies were to be sung immediately before the Gospel reading; their wordless singing seems to have given a special solemnity to this high point in the medieval celebration of the Mass.