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Sacrosancta hodiernae

Neumatized sequence: Sacrosancta hodiernae


A sequence for St. Andrew, representing a later style of medieval chant composition.  This extensive, free-flowing melody explores a variety of pitch centers and a wide vocal range.  It is performed here by two male soloists, who sing the verses in alternation, joining together for the final verse.Images of speech, breath, spirit, soul, and scent, suffuse this sequence text.  These themes unite in the text’s final lines:


Now you breathe the fragrance of pleasantness that the spice of divine love gives.

May you be for us therefore sweetness, which breathes the innermost balsam of heavenly life.


In medieval writings, the Latin word pneuma denotes “spirit” or “breath,” while the similarly-sounding word neuma means “melodic gesture” or “melismatic phrase” (i.e. untexted).  The close aural connection of these words was explored by various medieval writers and seems to have inspired the addition of three neumatized (textless) phrases in this performance.