Music for his Office

The cultus of Gengulphus was sufficiently popular to deserve its own music (Gregorian chant) to be chanted on his feast day (May 11) during the liturgy of the hours – at matins, lauds and first and second vespers. This office was probably composed in the C11th or early C12th by an anonymous monk or priest. The problem is finding this music. Many parchment manuscripts from this period (and earlier) have been lost – often taken apart for binding material after the printing press was invented and paper introduced. Or just destroyed in fires or by pillaging of monastary libraries in times of war and revolution.

After scores of hours of (mostly online) searching we (Psalterium Foundation) located almost all of the office (Magnificat antiphon for the first vespers, full matins – invitatorium, 9 antiphons and 9 responds – and full lauds, but, only text of the Magnificat of the second vespers) of St. Gengulphus in an early/mid 13th century manuscript. Thus, only the music (not the text!) was missing for the second vespers. Still looking for the music for this text – possibly in a later manuscript!

This manuscript (not online, a noted breviary in Messine notation and filed as Metz 0461) was lost in a bombing raid on the city of Metz (NE France) in WWII, but survived in a microfilm made by the Abbey of Solesmes in the interbellum years (possibly earlier) to support their research into Gregorian chant restoration. Thanks to Dominique Gatté for his support in this search effort.

An early hymn for Gengulphus was also found in an 11th century manuscript – text only, still (early 2020) searching for appropriate music for this hymn. The hymn proved more difficult than finding the office material, but we did locate it in Monumenta Germaniae Historica in the earliest vita reproduced of Gangulphus (in Latin) by the renowned  20th century German historian of the Merovingian period – Wilhelm Levison – on the life of St Gengulphus. Levinson consulted over 60 medieval manuscripts for this article.

In a footnote Levison notes the text of the hymn and refers to an 11th century manuscript in Berlin as the source – but we still have to confirm this in the referred-to manuscript itself for 100% certainty. The manuscript is not online.

Present planning is to record the office music in the church in Malay (southern Burgundy) in a week long recording session in May 2021.  This is the same location as used for the Psalterium Project completed in May 2018.  A magnificent location for a recording of this music. Presentation of the Gengulphus project is tentatively scheduled for late 2021.

We plan to publish a pdf of our restoration into more familiar square-note neume notation in due course. Below the first two relevant pages in Metz 461. See next page for all the Metz 0461 manuscript pages for the St Gengulphus office.

First two pages of the Office of St Gengulphus in Metz 461 – starts halfway in the
second column of the first page left. Magnificat antiphon for the first vespers and Invitatorium for the Matins follows.