M.A. thesis

“Singing for a Patron Saint: Musical Strategies and Political Subtexts in Sequences from the Abbey of Saint-Denis”

Fall 2009, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

supervised by Hana Vlhová-Wörner


This thesis analyzes three sequences from the Abbey of Saint-Denis for the feast of St. Denis, as presented in the 13th-century notated missal F:Pn, lat. 1107. Each of these three sequences–Gaude turma triumphalis, Alludat vox ecclesiae, and Gaude prole, Graecia–either exists in a version unique to the abbey or survives in no other source, although two are contrafacts of earlier sequences. All are noteworthy for their political subtexts, alluding to the French monarchy and its place in society, or to the age and prestige of the Abbey of Saint-Denis. These political references are reinforced by musical devices, such as melismas, modal structure, and melodic repetition. Thus, these three sequences are relics of one medieval abbey’s construction of its image and social role through the music of the liturgy.