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The Medieval Chants for Ste Foy Considered through the Prism of Their Nocturnal Performance

Parkes, Henry

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Associate Professor of Music


The medieval cult of Ste Foy inspired several sets of liturgical chants, or historiae, including at least two that were probably made for use at Conques in the early eleventh century. Whilst it is widely understood that historia chants belonged within the liturgy of the Divine Office, this article explores the significance of two lesser-known parameters in their performance: their use during the nocturnal hours, above all during the lengthy service known as the Night Office, and their use alongside various modes of sensory augmentation that were employed on major feast days. By exploring these parameters as they might have applied to the medieval Abbey of Conques in the context of Ste Foy’s feast—using sources from Fleury and Saint-Bénigne, Dijon, wherever local evidence is lacking—the article draws attention to the ways in which historiae intersected with non-verbal modes of creativity within the performative frame of the Office liturgy. Ultimately, it argues for a more consciously multidisciplinary approach to this historically ‘musical’ genre.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 30, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 4, 2023
Publication Date 2023-10
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2023
Journal Arts
Electronic ISSN 2076-0752
Publisher MDPI AG
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 5
Article Number 188
Keywords medieval music; chant; liturgy; Divine Office; cult of saints; night; drama
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