Musicus Online Museum

Placatus quesumus

Neumatized sequence: Placatus quesumus


A curious example of the notated neumatized sequence, preserved in five manuscripts from medieval Brabant and Hainaut (present day Belgium and the Netherlands).  Placatus quesumus is prescribed for Pentecost Monday.  In the Bible, the Holy Spirit visited Christ’s disciples and followers on Pentecost, and they began to speak in many tongues.  Medieval descriptions of neumatization liken this practice to the emulation of an unknown, celestial language. This erratic language may be reflected musically in the highly unusual pattern of neumatization: its textless segments are not simple melodic repeats of texted verses, but rather vary widely in their length and combination of reiterated chant fragments. Furthermore, they often precede, rather than echo, their equivalent texted segment.  (See Ecce iam votiva for a similar procedure; both chants are taken from the same manuscript).