Laurel Ceremony Music

Crispin's Laurel ceremony

When Master Crispin Sexi was laurelled for being a composer, he had a choir of Laurels sing one of his pieces at the ceremony. That was good fun, but the piece of music was not actually about the ceremony.

A few years later Master Gregory Tortouse de Sloleye - who had attended one of Crispin's classes on Thomas Campion's Method - decided to write four-part choral music for a few peerage ceremonies. Crispin helped out a little here and there, and the pieces came together well and really added a nice touch to the occasion. Here are some of Gregory's pieces:

In 2020 Crispin recalled that he'd promised to write a plainchant version of the laurel ceremony proclamation for his peerage scroll, and still hadn't gotten around to it. So he hacked his way through translating the proclamation into Latin, badly it must be said. Dame Joan fixed up the translation a bit, but was better at reading Latin than writing it. Good enough for Crispin though, so he put together a simple chant line to suit it.

Afterwards, Crispin was reflecting on the fact that he'd written about how to write massive polyphony but really not done much in the way of original composition of that type. A few rounds here, a six-part motet there, but nothing sizable. So he got carried away and wrote a 12-part version of the Laurel ceremony proclamation, set for three choirs of four voices.

And then he sent off to Master Dafydd of the Glens for help on correcting the translation of the text. Dafydd also enlisted Master Brian dorcha ua Connall's aid and sent back a no-doubt much improved Latin translation. Crispin updated the music to fit, and so came about the following...

Noverint Omnes for Three Choirs

Original text: "Be it known that their Majesties, Aedward and Yolande, King and Queen of Lochac, do on this day elevate their subject, Crispin Sexi, to the Peerage of this Kingdom, and do admit him to the Right Noble Order of the Laurel, and they do grant unto him by Letters Patent these arms: Sable, a cross engrailed and in canton a roundel argent, in the Kingdom of Lochac and throughout the Known World, to bear and to hold without let or hindrance throughout their Realm. By Our word and hand this xi day of April, Anno Societatis xxxix. Aedward Rex Yolande Regina."

Latin translation: "Noverint omnes Maiestates Aedwardus Rex et Yolanda Regina Lochac hodie evehunt Crispinem Sexi nobilitati Regni atque illum admittunt ordini nobillimi Laureo et Litteris Patentibus Insignia Donamus: crux engrala argenta et cum plata in angulo capitis dextro omnia in scuto nigro, in Regno Lochacis et per Orbem Cognitam ut ferat atque teneat sine mora per Regno. Datus manu nostra et verbo ante diem tertium Idus Apriles, Anno Societatis undequadraginta. Rex Aedwardus Regina Yolanda."

The twelve part music is available here:

The text mentions Crispin's name and device, plus the royals who elevated him, King Aedward and Queen Yolande. It's much too late for this to be sung at Crispin's ceremony, but if you would like to use this in your peerage ceremony, feel free to substitute your own details. Two singers per part is helpful, unless they are feeling particularly confident to sing on their own.

Hang on, what about the scroll?

Ah, well, so, Crispin was originally considering something as a simple plainchant. But then he got carried away (again) thinking about how in medieval times there were pieces where the original chant line was treated as a tenor line and another line called the "duplum" was added to harmonise above the tenor. The duplum could be a completely different text to the tenor, so Crispin wrote off to M. Dafydd again for a Latin translation of the fealty oath said during peerage ceremonies.

Original text: "Here do I swear, by mouth and hand, fealty and service to the Crown and Kingdom of Lochac, to speak and to be silent, to come and to go, to strike and to spare, to do and to let be, in such matters as concern the Kingdom, on my honour, and by the lawful commands of the Crown, in need or in plenty, in peace or in war, in living or in dying, from this hour henceforth, until the Crown depart from their Throne, or death take me, or the world end, so say I Crispin Sexi."

Dafydd happily obliged and sent back the following:

Latin translation: "Hic me adjuro manu et ore fidem et meretum Coronae atque Regno Lochacis: loqui aut tacere, venire aut ire, ferire aut parcere, agere aut noli, pietate et mandatis Coronae, inopia et copiis, in pace et bello, in vita et morte donec Corona exeat, mors me capiat aut mundus pereat. Itaque aio Crispin Sexi."

Crispin briefly considered adding a triplum above the duplum, but decided not to push it.

Since the oath text was shorter than the proclaimation text the oath would work better as the tenor, which moves more slowly. Crispin set the oath to a new Dorian chant melody and wrote it out in the 5th rhythmic mode, meaning dotted crotchets in today's notation: long - long in 14thC notation. The proclamation text he set as the duplum in the 1st rythmic mode: long - brief - long - brief.

The music is available here:

And the scroll...?

Still working towards that! More to come.

Individual works are copyright by Jaysen Ollerenshaw, but permission is granted for non-profit use.

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