Musicus Online Museum

Nostra musica

Neumatized sequence: Nostra musica


This substantial and beautiful sequence honoring John the Evangelist only survives in a couple of northern French sources from the late twelfth and early thirteenth century.  While its text is rare, the sequence’s melody (“Iustus ut palma”) was widely known in the Middle Ages and was expressed with different text, often in connection with various saints.

Like Iubilans concrepa, the text of Nostra musica contains a number of evocative phrases conveying the power of untexted song to move the supplicant closer to the divine.  In particular, its opening alternate references to earthly (texted) song, and heavenly (purely musical) harmony.  John the Evangelist was particularly venerated for his translation of divine wisdom into the written word.  Medieval images frequently portray him as a conduit between the earthly and the eternal.  The alternation between texted lines and wordless melismas in this neumatized sequence might have expressed a similar alternation between the earthly and the unknowable divine to medieval listeners.

For another neumatized sequence celebrating St John the Evangelist, see Trinitatem reserat aquila