Notker Balbulus (ca. 840-912) / Ordo Virtutum
Sequenzen, Tropen & Gregorianischer Choral aus dem Kloster St. Gallen
Christophorus CHR 77341

© 2010

1. Alleluia. Dies sanctificatus  [1:48]

2. NOTKER von SANKT GALEN. Sequenz Natus ante saecula (Geburt des Herrn)  [2:33]

3. Melodiemodell Dies sanctificatus [instrumental]  [2:30]

4. Tropen Primus init Stephanus & En vice nos Stephani
zum Introitus Et enim sederunt principes (St. Stephanus)  [3:23]

5. NOTKER. Sequenz Gaude Maria virgo (Gottesmutter Maria)  [2:38]

6. Tropen Hodie clarissimam, Olim promissus, Forma speciosissimus [NOTKER ?]
& Olim quem vates zum Introitus Ecce advenit (Erscheinung des Herrn)  [5:58]

7. Tropen Ex numero frequentium [NOTKER ?], Quasi quid incredibile
& Qui vobis terrigenis zum Introitus Viri Galilei (Christi Himmelfahrt)  [4:36]

8. Tropus Consubstantialis patri zum Introitus Spiritus domini (Pfingsten)  [2:48]

9. NOTKER. Sequenz Sancti spiritus assit nobis gratia (Pfingsten)  [5:26]

10. NOTKER [?]: Melodiemodell Occidentana [instrumental]  [2:34]

11. Einan kuning weiz ih (Ludwigslied, 882)  [melodische Rekonstruktion: Stefan Morent]  [9:45]

12. Melodiemodell Romana [instrumental]  [2:07]

13. Introitus Gaudeamus omnes (Mariä Himmelfahrt)  [2:35]

14. NOTKER. Sequenz Congaudent angelorum chori (Mariä Himmelfahrt)  [2:50]

15. Melodiemodell Mater [instrumental]  [3:10]

16. Alleluia. Iustus ut palma  [2:40]

17. NOTKER. Sequenz Dilecte Deo Galle (St. Gallus)  [2:13]

Ensemble Ordo virtutum für Musik des Mittelalters
Stefan Johannes Morent

Jörg Deutschewitz (Solo: 6, 16)
Hubert Mayer (Solo: 7, 9, 14)
Stefan Johannes Morent (Solo: 11)
Jörg Rieger (Solo: 1, 6)
Daniel Schreiber (Solo: 4, 7, 9, 14)
Alexander Yudenkov (Solo: 4, 8, 9, 13)

Susanne Ansorg, Fiedel
Stefan Johannes Morent, Harfe, Portativ

Unser Dank gilt der Schlossverwaltung Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Bebenhausen, besonders Herrn Alexander
Brass, und der Katholischen Kirchengemeinde Heilig Kreuz Binningen/CH für die Unterstützung und Hilfe an den


Harfe nach romanischen Vorbildern von Reiner Thurau, Wiesbaden 1998
Portativ mit Kupferpfeifen nach Theophilus von Louis Huivenaar, Amsterdam 1980/2005
Fiedel in D: Thilo Viehrig, Kaulsdorf 1998, Fiedel in E: Richard Earle, Basel 1997

Verwendete Handschriften:

A-Wn 1609, CH-E 121, CH-E 366, CH-E 610, CH-SGs 342, CH-SGs 359, CH-SGs 375
CH-SGs 376, CH-SGs 378, CH-SGs 380, CH-SGs 381, CH-SGs 382, CH-SGs 484, CH-SGs 546
CH-SGv 317, D-B 40078, D-B 40608, D-BAs lit. 5, D-Mu 2° 156, F-Pn 10587
F-VAL 150, I-BV 39, I-Rc 1741, I-SCAcc VII 7, NL-Uu 417

Alle Übertragungen aus den Handschriften und Übersetzungen: Stefan Johannes Morent

Bildnachweis (Handschriften aus der Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen):

Digipack innen: „Pfingstsequenz Sancti spiritus“, Cod. Sang. 546, fol. 112r
Booklet cover: „Miniatur zur Weihnachtssequenz Natus ante secula“, Cod. Sang. 376, S. 319
S. 8. : „Vorrede zu Notkers Liber Hymnorum“, Cod. Sang. 381, S. 328
S. 13: „Pfingstsequenz Sancti spiritus“, Cod. Sang. 376, S. 373
S. 17: „Gallus-Sequenz Dilecte Deo Galle“, Cod. Sang. 376, S. 397

Eine Koproduktion des
Südwestrundfunks Studio Tübingen und der Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen

Excutive producer: Dr. Anette Sidhu-Ingenhoff (SWR Landesstudio Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Ernst Tremp (Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen)
Recording: 06.-09.04.2010, ehem. Zisterzienserkloster Bebenhausen (D) & 07.06.2010, Kirche Heilig Kreuz Binningen (CH)
Recording engineer & editing: Malgorzata Albinska-Frank
Sound Engineer: Jörg Heinkel
Editor (MusiContact) & layout: Joachim Berenbold
Cover: “Notker Balbulus” (Biblioteka Jagiellonska, Krakow, Cod. theol. lat. qu. 11, fol. 144r)
“Natus ante saecula” (Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen, Cod. Sang. 376, S. 320)
Translations: English · Lindsay Chalmers-Gerbracht / Français · Sylvie Coquillat
Ⓟ 2010 SWR
© 2010 MusiContact GmbH Heidelberg, Germany
Herstellung: Sonopress, Gütersloh - Made in Germany

The intensive cultivation of the so-called Gregorian chants and their textual and/or melodic extensions during the Early Middle Ages in the Monastery of St Gall is eloquently testified by the numerous manuscripts which originated there and are still preserved in the Abbey Library of St Gall. The treasure of the St Gall musical manuscripts which only make up a small part of the entire collection of surviving manuscripts is unique for its volume, unity and intact condition. With the aid of these manuscripts, we are able to research into and reconstruct the entire history of literary-musical culture of the St Gall Monastery right back to its beginnings with the reception of the cantilena romana – the chants of the Roman Catholic Church – their adoption and adaptation to local practices and their commentarial extension in poetry and music in the Early Middle Ages via the already retrospective and partially glorifying reception of the monastic house tradition in the eleventh century and right down to the much later recollection following the abandonment of traditions in the sixteenth century.

The Abbey Library provides a home for manuscripts which are vital not only for specialised research into the liturgical music at St Gall, but also for general research into the Mediaeval period: this collection includes examples of early repertoire relating to Gregorian chants such as the socalled St Gall Cantatorium (around 920, CH-SGs 359), and for the younger categories trope and sequence, the St Gall tropers-sequentiaries dating back to the period between the tenth and twelfth centuries.

Although the formation and reception of Gregorian chant in St Gall has been somewhat obscured by the anonymous darkness of historical annals or has been associated with figures of legend, evidence does however exist for certain individual poets and musicians who can be unambiguously linked to the newer types of chant: for example, Notker the Stammerer (Balbulus, ca. 840-912) for the Sequence, Tuotilo (ca. 850 – ca. 913) for the Trope and Ratpert (ca. 855 – after 902) for the Verse (strophic songs for liturgical purposes or the acclamation of rulers).

Notker, who named himself “stammerer” (balbus or balbulus) or “toothless” (edentulus) not merely as a gesture of humility but also because of his speech impediment, chiefly wrote sacred poetry in addition to his history of the deeds of Charlemagne (Gesta Karoli Magni) and a life of the Irish monk Gallus, the founder of the monastery. A letter to his fellow brother Lantbertus in which he explains to him the function of the additional signs – the so-called Romanian letters – which are utilised in manuscripts of the chants, confirms his familiarity with this material. According to the tradition of St Gall, the monk Romanus who was originally from Rome had actually taught the authentic form of Gregorian chant in the monastery of St Gall.

This recording focuses on the works of Notker; the CD presents a number of the best-known and most perfect creations of the great poet-musician from St Gall. The greatest emphasis is given to the sequence form with which Notker’s name is particularly linked: a supplementary entry in the necrology of the Gallus monastery on the occasion of his death on 6 April 912 reads: Qui sequentias composuit. In the preface to his personal compilation of his own composed sequences dedicated to Liutward of Vercelli, the so-called Liber hymnorum, he describes how external inspiration caused him to come upon the artistic principle governing sequences: poetic texts should be adapted to pre-existing melodies so that the smallest melodic units (singulae motus cantilenae) would exactly correspond to individual syllables in the harmonious unity of melody and inflexion (singulas syllabas debent habere, versus modulaminis apti). In addition, two lines of text are assigned to the same melodic section and complement one another in a similar manner to psalms. There is however no mention of the origin of these melodies without texts. Although they have their place within the liturgy following the Alleluia, they rarely pick up on a specific Alleluia from the mass (for example the melodic pattern Dies sanctificatus for the Christmas sequence Natus ante saecula at the beginning of the Alleluia for Christmas Day Dies sanctificatus), and are otherwise only linked to the Alleluia through the common characteristic of a broadly-based melody without text; these could have originated in external, non-ecclesiastical areas due to their as yet partially unexplained names in the manuscripts (such as Mater or Cignea), or could even have been composed by Notker himself according to the later chronistic tradition of the Gallus monastery. Their autonomy is indicated by their notation in the St Gall manuscripts in the margin to the parallel running text: in CH-SGs 484 even without any text apart from the initial syllables A [ l l ] E [ l ] U [ i ] A which denote an affinity to the Alleluia. In view of this autonomy of the sequence melodies, some of these pieces are presented in this recording in instrumental or vocalise versions. The oldest surviving fragmentary versions of the Liber Hymnorum are considered to have originated during the lifetime of Notker; the earliest complete sequentiaries from St Gall were compiled in the second quarter of the tenth century.

Five sequences for major feasts during the ecclesiastical year have been selected for this recording from the sequences attributed to Notker by Wolfram von den Steinen on the basis of stylistic research which is still considered valid in our time: Natus ante saecula (Christmas), Gaude Maria virgo (Blessed Mother Mary), Sancte spiritus (Whitsuntide), Congaudent angelorum chori (Feast of the Assumption) and Dilecte Deo Galle for the Feast of the founder of the monastery.

Notker’s authorship regarding the area of tropes is substantially more problematic: no comparable complete collection of these works has survived. The tropes included in this recording which either function as an introduction to the referential chants of the Introits or provide an interlinear textual and/or musical extension to and commentary on these sections can for the most part be attributed with a certain degree of accuracy either to Notker (for example Forma speciosissimus and Ex numero frequentium) or one of his circle, but without doubt to the traditions of St Gall.

One specific problem is universally confronted in the performance of Notker’s works: the melodies in the St Gall manuscripts are notated throughout in neumes without staves which prevent an exact interpretation of the pitches of these compositions. This missing information was retained in St Gall in its parallel existing oral tradition which was fixed in neumes, but was unfortunately lost before the melodies could be notated on lines. When Father Cuontz from St Gall attempted to record Notker’s sequences with their corresponding melodies on lines during the efforts to have Notker canonised in the sixteenth century, he found that the house tradition was no longer intact and was forced to search beyond the confines of the monastery for corresponding manuscripts still in existence. We must be grateful for the fact that Notker’s sequences had a wide distribution as this has guaranteed the survival of legible melodic versions of his works right up to the present day. It must however be kept in mind that a substantial part of these manuscripts originated in areas with a substantial geographical and cultural distance to St Gall which could mean that the original versions have undergone a certain degree of modification.

For this reason, the reconstructions of the melodic versions of both sequences and tropes for this recording have been compiled with the aid of a large number of manuscripts from a wide variety of provenances. As details of the St Gall neume notation also offer valuable clues for the reconstruction of pitches and performance interpretation, these manuscripts have provided guidelines permitting the closest possible approximation to the traditions of St Gall regarding both transcription and interpretation. Ultimately, this can be nothing more than a “virtual” version, as we will never know precisely how Notker’s sequences were performed in St Gall in the ninth century. This does not merely apply to Notker’s new compositions, but also to the chants which are however indispensable to illustrate the close link between the referential chants and their extensions and distinguish the new from the old. And Notker himself also participates in this conflicting polarity between inherited tradition and his own creations: in the picture of the author which was formerly included in Codex 376, he is depicted as a contemplative, meditative poet-musician who yet is simultaneously linked with the traditions of Pope Gregory the Great through the depiction of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove which provides the melodies for the chants.

In certain passages in our interpretation of the sequences, we utilise the earliest form of Western polyphony which has also been documented as existing as early as the ninth century. These early forms of organum, as documented in the musicological text Musica Enchiriadis (“Handbook of Music”), were also seen as a special decoration of particular chants or sequences: for example, two voices sing in parallel fourths or recite extensively on bourdon notes. Although the St Gall Library does not own a copy of the Musica Enchiriadis, it can be assumed from the wide dispersion of this polyphonic technique that it was also known in the monastery of St Gall.

Raids and pillaging by Normans and Hungarians presented a constant threat during Notker’s lifetime and beyond. A monk who had fled to St. Gall from the monastery of Jumièges which had been destroyed by the Normans brought with him an antiphonar which is said to have inspired Notker to produce his sequences.

A battle between the king of the West Franks, Ludwig III, and the Normans (Battle of Saucourten-Vimeu in 881) is described in the Ludwigslied [Song of Ludwig] in the Old High German language. This song in the style of the bardic heroic epic depicts the great valour and strength of King Ludwig. The text without music has been preserved in a manuscript from Valenciennes which was first discovered by Dom Jean Mabillon in St. Amand and subsequently rediscovered by A.-H. Hoffmann von Fallersleben. The reconstruction of the melody and performance technique is based on observations of the continuing traditions of oral epics.

Our CD thereby records a tonal image of the significance and influence of the Abbey of St Gall down through the centuries.

Stefan Johannes Morent

Further literature: Stiftsbibliothek Sankt Gallen Codices 484 & 381, commented and produced in facsimile by Wulf Arlt & Susan Rankin, Winterthur 1996.

The St. Gall manuscripts are now accessible online at