Ensemble Organum – Le Chant des Templiers

Ok, so I’m not much for Christian music, except the variety that has fiddles & accordions & banjos & other instruments of devilry, or screaming black people. Or at least some sort of mystery, and please keep it light on the preaching. And if you’ve been reading this blog a while, you’re probably somewhat like me. But believe me, you do not want to pass on this. It is absolutely the most powerful, most mysterious, most gutwardly moving cd of chants I’ve ever heard. Hair-raising is the adverb. Like a feather and a sledgehammer rolled into one. I’ve always thought of latin as a logical language, but these chants blow it straight into the realm of post-apocalyptic riddlery of desperation. It feels like sticking a very sharp, very sacred knife into your lungs to force a gasp of air, which is actually a breath of wind, which is actually God.
It’s like when you’re a baby, laying in your crib, and the voice of the mighty one comes to you, and tells you you’re going to live to see the death of all the world, and then rocks you to sleep saying “I know. I know little one. I know.” And then you understand. Because you have heard, and you will never forget. Death is a mere point in the turning of the great wheel, and if midwinter isn’t about resurrection, it isn’t about anything. So if you don’t think you’d like this music, it’s especially important that you download it. And lock yourself in a room. And listen to this stuff on full blast. And when it’s over, you’ll be a changed person. And the look in your eyes will say “I know.”
And even the Georgia Sea Island Singers won’t be able to tell you any different. Because they’re singing the exact same thing, in the exact same way, in a different iteration of the harmonic resurrection that is evolution, but don’t let their skin fool you. These French singers have grain for grain every bit as much grit as the Sea Islanders, and every drop of mystique.
The Knights Templar were custodians of a secret. Though I cannot tell you the secret, I can tell you this: the Holy Grail is in this music, if you listen closely enough.
Crucem sanctam subiit,
qui infernum confregit,
accinctus est potentia,
surrexit die tertia. Alleluia.
Lapidem quem reprobaverunt
aedeficantes factus est
caput anguli, alleluia.

The Chant of the Templars

The Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in the twelfth century

It was towards the end of the second decade of the twelfth century that the idea of Hugh de Payns began to be realised: the creation of an Order of knighthood whose purpose was to guard the Holy Places and protect the many pilgrims who flocked to Jerusalem. In 1118 he obtained the assent of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Gormond de Picquigny. He gathered eight knights around him, and the undertaking was considered so important by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, that he granted them the use of part of his palace, what was left of the ancient Temple of Solomon. Thus the nascent Order took its name from its place of residence, and became known as Order of the Temple of Solomon.

This first period of the Order was modest and productive, it lasted until 1127. For these nine years, the Order’s membership remained fixed at nine knights. All were nobles, trained in the profession of arms, and this period – which might be described as a novitiate – was the crucible in which the specific spirituality of the Templars gradually took shape. The source of their spiritual consciousness is to be sought in the knights’ assiduous attendance at the Latin liturgy of the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In 1128, when the Council of Troyes granted them a rule drawn up under the direction of Bernard of Clairvaux, their attachment to the liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre was clearly stated and became the distinctive and specific mark of their canonical condition. ‘You who have renounced your own will, and you others who, for the salvation of your souls, serve the Sovereign King with your horses and weapons, must with pure and pious longing follow Matins and the Divine Service in their entirely, according to the canonical institutions and the Uses of the regular masters of the Holy City.’

Over the next decade or so, the Order enjoyed a spectacular expansion: donations flooded in, and the Templars soon became key players not only in the Holy Land but also throughout Western Europe. Like all religious organizations, the Order of the Temple comprised two categories of brothers those particularly attached to the liturgy – and those charged more especially with the material tasks connected with the subsistence of the Order and its specific missions. However, even in times of war, the Templars were assiduous in their practice of the liturgy. During the siege of Damietta in the Fifth Crusade, a night raid by the Muslims was foiled because the Templars were celebrating the Office of Matins in the tent that served as the Order’s chapel. Thus were able immediately to repulse the attack. The Templars are often described as ‘soldier-monks’, but this term is improper, for it appear only in the nineteenth century. In ecclesiastical law the Templars did not have monastic status. Right from their origins, they were assimilated to the status of canons, taking as their model the Rule of St Augustine, with the obligation of scrupulously observing the liturgical order of the Holy Sepulchre. Nevertheless, although their activities did not permit them to hear the Office in its entirety, they were to say a certain number of paternosters at the hour of prayer in order to make up for their failure to attend the Office.

After the crusaders took control of Jerusalem on 15 July 1099, the organization of the Latin liturgy was entrusted to the clergy of the Church of France, who took the Use of Paris as their chief model. The first preceptor of the Latin Patriarchate was a certain Anselm, a canon of Paris who shaped the Latin liturgy of the Holy Sepulchre. The manuscript […] dates from the third quarter of the twelfth century and comes from the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Having been purchased by the Duc d’Aumale in the mid-nineteenth century, it is now preserved at the Château de Chantilly. It is a breviary, written down when Parisian musical circles were just beginning to formulate square notation. All the vocal subtleties of the chant can be seen in it. In this respect the volume is quite exceptional, since few examples of French music from this period are still extant. Moreover, it contains a number of unique pieces, and others which are presented here in an unusual fashion. The musical notation of this breviary accurately reflects many decisive developments of its time, which were to have a profound influence on European techniques of notation down to the sixteenth century.

The French provenance of this manuscript is a precious indication, for we possess several concordant source of information enabling us to interpret the French notation of the twelfth century. It is necessary to combine the data provided by paleography with the art of making rhythm, which in religious chant has its own name, the tripudium. This essential element for understanding the rhythmic organization of the chant of this period has unfortunately not received sufficient attention from those who study the different types of plainchant. The way in which the theorists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries describe the formation of the rhythmic architecture of polyphonic chant is a further fundamental element for deciphering this music.

[…] the antiphon Crucem tuam. Its text recalls the foundations of the Christian faith, centring on the resurrection of Christ, who by submitting to the torment of the Cross destroyed the infernal powers of death. This is the kind of multi-usage antiphon that could sometimes be sung outside the liturgical context in order to fan the flames of faith. It is followed by three chants for the Solemnity of the Transfiguration. The responsories Benedicat nos and Honor, virtus et potestas are taken from the Night Office, whereas the antiphon to the Magnificat comes from the Office of Vespers. The Feast of the Transfiguration was particularly observed by the Order of the Temple, which explains this solemn performance practice for the Magnificat, in which part of the antiphon is repeated every three or four verses .

Next comes the celebrated antiphon Media vita, sung for part of the year at Compline – the Office which leads up to nightfall – to introduce and conclude the Gospel canticle Nunc dimittis. This antiphon too was sometimes sung outside its liturgical setting. It was credited with magical powers, which often led the ecclesiastical authorities to control and limit use of it. After this, […] present the Kyrie chant, whose liturgical function, at the beginning of the Mass, is to exalt divine majesty, the only force capable of remedying the weaknesses and imperfections of the human soul. Once a year, the Kyrie was sung outside the Mass, to open Vespers for Easter Day. […] But the Kyrie could also be employed to fortify the souls of the combatants when an army deployed in order of battle. Here the chant alternates between monody and three-part polyphony, following the method of twelfth-century Parisian discantus as it has come down to us in the only extant work of Master Albert of Paris (precentor of the Cathedral of Saint-Étienne), preserved in the Codex Calixtinus: the Congaudeant catholici.

Then come two antiphons which set the spirituality of the Order in context. There is a frequent tendency to see the Templars only as warriors. This is to forget their fundamental condition as men of prayer, who took up arms only to defend peace and thus to allow mankind to hear the splendours of the Word of God. This is the meaning conveyed by the antiphon Da pacem domine in diebus nostris. It punctuates the recitation of Psalm 121, which conjures up all that Jerusalem at peace might reveal to men. Finally, just as each night before going to rest the Templars addressed a last invocation to the Virgin Mary, it is the great Salve Regina that concludes this brief survey of the liturgical life of the Order of the Temple. This antiphon, so wide-spread throughout Western Christendom, is presented here in an unusual form, with three verses which evoke the mystery of the Incarnation.

– Marcel Pérès

Ensemble Organum – Le Chant des Templiers

Manuscrit du Saint Sépulcre de Jérusalem XIIe siècle

Ensemble Organum – Marcel Pérès, dir.

Year: 2006

Label: Ambrosie

Anon., Chantilly, musée Condé, ms XVIII b12

1. Antiphona: Crucem sanctam

2. Responsorium: Benedicat nos deus

3. Responsorium: Honor virtus et potestas

4. Antiphona: Te Deum patrem ingenitum / Magnificat

5. Antiphona: Media vita in morte sumus / Nunc dimittis

6. Kyrie Eleïson

7. Antiphona: Da pacem Domine / Psalm: Fiat pax in virtute tua

8. Antiphona: Salve regina

mp3 vbr | with scans
Out of print.
Oh, and if you want to hear any other weird early music, check out Música Medieval y Renacentista
This entry was posted in chant, Roots. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Ensemble Organum – Le Chant des Templiers

  1. muddy says:

    Hi my friend, Happy New Year to you and all your visitors.
    All the best
    Sincerely
    muddy

  2. kokolo says:

    Thank you Irate, nice place you got here…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Men are the ones who create evil on Earth. It is the choices they make which enslave their souls to hell.
    And that's why you are continually reincarnated. Welcome to the Matrix.
    7 billion in 2011. Only 1 billion in 1800 and 2 billion in 1900.
    Population explosion is a clue::::The gods are sending everyone back for The End.
    There must be some purgatory-like place. Or individual. Like an animal.
    Now the gods have sent everyone back to try for one final time to fix their problems and ascend into heaven. Avoiding an animal would have been a big positive because those thrust into this decayed enviornment have less of a chance than those who enjoyed the god's generosity of a slowly decaying enviornment with frightening clues, like the Depression, World at War, the Holocaust, etc.
    Anything that can get the poeple frightened and praying is a good. thing. Contentment never motivated anyone.

    As we approach the Apocalypse the gods are removing “wrath of god” material from xtian dogma.
    As we see wickedness spread throughout the country, like preditory behavior, godlessness, social changes, etc, using cable TV and the spread of “Californication” as justification, they changed xtianity, appropriatly with Catholicism first.
    xtianity has changed radically in the 20th century, and everyone should be mindful of the way it was, because the people are in a process of slipping out of god's favor into a state of Damnation, from which the vast majority will never survive.
    They used to scare people and make them too afraid to make mistakes. Now people aren't afraid of anything and don't think twice about doing something wicked and evil which will hurt their chances.

    Good god says a ceiling on time for everyone (see below). Evil god still gives hope for immortality to people who subscribed to preditory behavior:::Immortality if you are right versus a couple centuries partying at best even if you change now.
    Occems Razor.
    Due to institutional evil the closer we get to The End the more evil everyone incurrs (with some variation due to behavior) which limits the time for everyone.
    Probably the children who fix their problems and ascend into heaven as well. Experiencing the evil of modern life in the 20th century costed them, for which limits are placed. They are not the same as their innocent peasantry ancestors from the Old World.
    You people have fucked up bad by not getting out before the 20th century.
    Just because the gods have to break some eggs doesn't mean they are evil. As management there are hard decisions that must be made. But they used this omelette and sold it to people as temptation, who went out and did things they shouldn't have done thinking being preditory was the way to “earn” their way into heaven.
    Employment charity:::Was W able to do his job as President?
    I suspect there are many frat-boy types who couldn't or wouldn't study nor do the work necessary so they gained this “benefit” telepathically. This could have been extended to their professional life as well::In most of these cases they don't have what it takes to do their jobs.
    I think employment charity is FAR more common than people may believe.
    Another example how they tempted people in this manner is the procurement of sexual relations.
    Keep raping these poor girls. You're going to end up as one in your next life.

    Another feature which the Gods offer as a clue is very foreboading and ominous. Mt. Zion is a mountain to the north of Diablo (the eye of The Beast) and one which has a working quarry at its base. Consistant with the decay we experience in society, Mt. Zion is being eaten away, slowly stripped of its resources, until one day paradise will be gone forever.

    If people only understood the importance of good parents. You won't be going anywhere without them. And it won't happen unless you are one first.

  4. Wow.

    That's the funniest shit I've read all day. Where do you get that stuff from? Really? Like, holocaust = good thing? Some powerful logic you've got there.

    On the other hand, Hi Kokolo & Muddy, good to see you and a happy 2011!

  5. Somewhere in timespace western european mankind transformed from magical to faustian…from being an integrated part of eternal God and into aiming for achieving eternal limitlesness…
    I get reminded of this transformation when hearing this music…so Byzantian…and so selfsecure within its own limits…

  6. thank you chief! superbly spoken.

  7. Cat says:

    Hi! I just wanted to give you a warning about the site you recommended, the Italian Medieval and Renaissance Music blog. His/her uploads themselves appear to be fine, HOWEVER>>>>> clicking on the link will lead directly to Trojan viruses. I’ve clicked on several of their links, and each time my Norton comes up with a message saying it blocked a trojan. So instead, I’ve started hovering my cursor over the link, and typing it in the address bar directly, which seems to take care of the problem. I sent the owner a message in simple English mentioning the trojan well over a week ago, and not surprisingly, MY reply has not been made public. Just wanted you to know, since it was through your link above that I found them, and that it IS an amazing blog otherwise. Just be aware the links lead to malware.

  8. Arminius says:

    It would be great if someone could reupload the CD. It is no longer available for buying in my country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s