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The music is the message: music in the apostolic liturgy of Saint Martial

  • James Grier (a1)

On 3 August 1029, Adémar de Chabannes inaugurated his newly-composed liturgy for the Feast of Saint Martial that recognized Martial, patron saint of the abbey that bears his name in Limoges, as an apostle. The Mass of the day was celebrated at the cathedral of Saint Stephen in Limoges, with the full support of Odolric, abbot of Saint Martial, and Jordan, the city's bishop. Adémar created a grand musical canvas to form part of the spectacular ceremony that took place that day. Among the original compositions he created for the Mass are several in which the literary text moves far into the background behind elaborate melismatic settings, and, in one case, the offertory of the Mass, the text virtually disappears. With these gestures, Adémar seems to be stepping beyond the verbal text to address the non-Latin speaking populace of Limoges directly in melody, to convince them of the necessity of acknowledging what most of them knew to be untrue: that Martial, their patron saint, was an apostle.

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Plainsong & Medieval Music
  • ISSN: 0961-1371
  • EISSN: 1474-0087
  • URL: /core/journals/plainsong-and-medieval-music
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