The Feast of the Subdeacons in Laon

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In his Summa de ecclesiasticis officiis (1160-1164), the theologian Jean Beleth describes the festivities performed in some cathedral chapters after Christmas: the Feast of deacons (Dec. 26), the Feast of priests (Dec. 27), the Feast of pueri (Dec. 28) and the Feast of subdeacons also called “Feast of fools”. This last feast could happen the 1 January (Circumcision), the 6 January (Epiphany) or the 13 January (octave of the Epiphany). Several manuscripts include the chants for the Feast of the subdeacons, in particular the three Offices of the Circumcision from Sens, Beauvais and Le Puy but also the troper from the cathedral of Laon (Laon, Bibliothèque municipale, ms 263). Unlike the other Offices of the Circumcision, the manuscript from Laon doesn’t contain the chants for a unique day but for the whole period from Christmas until Epiphany which was also the Feast of the subdeacons in Laon. In my paper, I will enhance the specificities of the Feast of the subdeacons of Laon comparing it to the other Feasts written in the manuscript. The chants for the Feast of the subdeacons can be divided into two groups: a canonical repertory and a festive repertory with Latin poetries, mostly tropes and sequences. These chants are very similar to the ones of the other Feasts for the subdeacons, particularly the tropes written in the gathering added in the manuscript of Laon. At last, I will see try to give a general definition of the Feast of subdeacons.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventCantus Planus International Conference - Notre Dame Keough-Naughton Centre at O'Connell House, Merrion Square & UCD School of Music, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 2 Aug 20167 Aug 2016


ConferenceCantus Planus International Conference


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