Anno Domini 997 - Millenium of Devotion to Saint Adalbert

SGP - Anno Domini 997

Medieval repertoire of devotion to this saint according of the earliest records from various places of Europe, framed with two polyphonic compositions by Petr Eben musicalizing the text of Saint Adalbert’s legend. 
Supraphon, SU 3288-2231 [CD], SU 3288-4231 [MC] © 1997
Total time 55:44

Complete texts and commentary in Czech, English and French

Schola Gregoriana Pragensis: Jiri Hodina, Ondrej Manour, Martin Prokes, Stanislav Predota, Jan Stetka, Matous Vlcinsky, Radim Vondracek
artistic director - David Eben

1. Petr Eben: Adalbertus et nullus alius 0:52
Aquisgranum (Aachen)
2. Antiphona Ad festa preciosi / Ps. 109 Dixit Dominus 2:56
3. Responsorium Magno populi voto 2:42
4. Antiphona O Adalberte sacer antistes / Cant. Magnificat 4:16
Tempus Nativitatis
5. Invitatorium Alleluia Regem martyrum / Ps. 94 Venite exultemus 4:15
6. Antiphona Sicut e spinis emergit / Ps. 1 Beatus vir 2:16
7. Lectio de Vita Sancti Adalberti I. (Johannes Canaparius) 1:07
8. Responsorium Cernens presul amator 1:50
9. Lectio de Vita Sancti Adalberti II. (Johannes Canaparius) 1:50
10. Responsorium Sanctus Adalbertus 3:26
Praga (Prague)
11. Cantio Hospodine, pomiluj ny 0:46
12. Responsorium Atollere tuas 3:42
13. Sequentia Hodierne lux diei 3:31
Vratislavia (Wrocław)
14. Antiphona Benedic regem cunctorum 1:57
Ad missam (Commune martyrum Tempore Paschali)
15. Ad processionem hymnus Salve festa dies 3:48
16. Introitus Protexisti me 2:21
17. Alleluia Laetabitur iustus 2:23
18. Evangelium Ego sum vitis vera 1:44
19. Offertorium Repleti sumus 4:21
20. Communio Laetabitur iustus 2:39
21. Petr Eben: O sanctum et beatissimum virum 1:10

Commentary by David Eben:

“Adalbert and none other, in whom age, way of life, nobility and wealth are in accord with honour.” With these words the nation is said to have upheld the election of the man who became the second Bishop of Prague. By their choice the Czechs confronted Adalbert with a most challenging task: during his tenure as bishop he was twice driven into self-imposed exile, and eventually his career came to a close in a martyr’s death in 997, while he was on a missionary expedition to the pagan Prussians.

Thus Bishop Adalbert entered into the annals of Bohemia’s history as a personage who was at once revered and despised, as an intellectual and spiritual maximalist who was ahead of his times, at least in his home country. Likewise, his cult has seen in the course of history alternating peaks and lows, always re-emerging to bear testimony to the spiritual weight of the Christian ideals for which Adalbert kept fighting in his lifetime. His legacy of zealous defence of spiritual values still continues to convey its living message to us today, as we are marking the millennium of his martyrdom.

There was yet another feature of Adalbert’s character, however, which has lately been moving into the focus of attention: namely, his all-European dimension. Quite definitely this saint’s import transcended the boundaries of Prague archdiocese still in his lifetime — involuntary though that may largely have been — to embrace a territory ranging from Monte Cassino to the Baltics. Similarly, thanks to his missionary activities, his cult developed in Poland and Hungary, as well as for instance in Aachen. It was also the European dimension of Adalbert’s cult which inspired the conception of the present recording project, with its division into several sections according to the provenance of the various source material.

The city of Aachen, in Rhineland, absorbed the cult of Saint Adalbert thanks to Emperor Otto III, the bishop’s close friend and admirer. In the year 1000 — i.e., still prior to the removal of the saint’s remains to Prague — the Emperor acquired from the King of Poland part of Adalbert’s relics and brought them to Aachen, where he founded a church consecrated to Saint Adalbert. Accordingly, the introductory section of this disc interprets the earliest known record of the Adalbertian office “Ad festa preciosi” after an original manuscript from Aachen, dating from the 13th century. The musical aesthetics of these chants already reflects the late style of medieval choral compositions. Of particular interest is the large-scale final halleluja in the responsory Sanctus Adalbertus. Two lessons, delivered with a simple recitative intonation, bring short excerpts from the legend of Saint Adalbert by Johannes Canaparius (a literary source which also served as inspiration for the text of the office “Ad festa”).

The following section is devoted to a repertorium drawn from Prague sources (here the recording links up with the CD “Bohemorum Sancti”). Naturally, this part would be unthinkable without the chant Hospodine, pomiluj ny (Lord, send your love upon us), whose authorship was attributed to Adalbert himself. According to recent findings, however, this ancient chant resembling a litany is more probably a vestige of the Old Slavonic liturgical tradition.

Adalbert’s relevance to Poland is illustrated by the antiphon Benedic regem cunctorum conversa gens Polonorum (Pay tribute to the king of all, converted people of Poland).

The final section contains chants of the mass proper, prescribed for the feast of Saint Adalbert: namely, a selection from the “commune martyrium”, a series of chants destined for the commemorative days of the martyrs. As these belong in the stratum of the so-called “old corpus” of plainsong, they are interpreted here according to the earliest neumed sources dating from the 10th/11th centuries, i.e., as they would likely have been sung in Adalbert’s time.

In token of present-day homage to Bohemia’s great saint, the choral chants are flanked here by two short compositions by Petr Eben, settings of excerpts from the legend of Saint Adalbert.