Text and Translation


In addition to the unique text underlay––two different texts written under the same musical staff––what makes the Francis/Clare chants extraordinary is the abundance of text parallelism. Take, for example, the antiphon “Laudans laudare monuit” for the feast of Saint Francis and the antiphon “Laudans laudare studeat” for the feast of Saint Clare. Not only do both antiphons have the same words under the same musical phrases such as “laudans,” “laudare,” “salvatoris,” and “conditoris,” but different words often contain the same vowels in the same positions, creating an effect of rhyming: note the pair of “Sanctias” and “bestias,” and that of “civitas” and “alias.” Far from being coincidental, the scribe deliberately constructed such text parallelism through either choosing an existing Clarissan chant that resembles the Franciscan one as is the case with the two antiphons, or creating a new chant for the feast of Saint Clare based on the Franciscan model, as is the case with the Magnificat antiphon “"O decus virgineum.” Like the two antiphons, the two Magnificat antiphons share certain words and pay particular attention to vowel positions. The textual resemblance of the Franciscan and Clarissan chants illustrates perhaps the closeness of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, and also that of the two religious orders. As the nuns celebrated the feast of Saint Clare, their memory of Saint Francis and the Franciscan chants, being vividly reinforced, intertwined with the present singing of praise to Saint Clare.

1. Magnificat Antiphon "O stupor et gaudium" for the feast of Saint Francis

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

O stupor et gaudium,

O judex homo mentium,

Tu nostrae militiae

Currus et auriga;

Ignea praesentibus

Transfiguratum fratribus transformed,

In solari facie

Vexit te quadriga;

In te signis radians,

In te ventura nuntians

Requievit spiritus

Duplex prophetarum;

Tuis adsta posteris,

Pater Francisce, miseris,

Nam increscunt gemitus.

Ovium tuarum.


O wonder and joy,

O man [who is] judge of spirits

You are the chariot

and charioteer of our army;

the fiery chariot drew you

in the shape of the sun,

with the brothers present;

in you, radiating with signs

in you, announcing things to come,

has reposed the

double spirit

of prophecies;

assist your wretched followers,

Father Francis, for

the groans of your sheep increase


2. Magnificat Antiphon "O decus virgineum" for the feast of Saint Clare

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

O decus virgineum                                     

O iubar vite flammeum                               

Tu sacre mundicie                                      

Doctrix et doctrina                                     

Ignea feruoribus                                        

Quos candidatis mentibus                           

De fornace gratie                                       

Virtus dat diuina                                        

In te signis radiat                                       

Per que saluator nunciat announces

quanta sis in gloria

secum constituta                                        

Clara sponso supplices    

Tuos ut salute supplices


Nam incumbunt agmina

Hostium tuarum.                 

O virginal beauty,

O flaming splendor of life,

you, instructress and teacher

of holy purity,

fiery with fervors of which

to purified minds

he gives strength

from the furnace of grace.

In you he radiates with signs

through which the savior, 

in what great glory,

you, radiant, are established with him as

your bridegroom. May you 

come to the assistance of your [followers] for salvation of the one supplicating you                                                                    

for the phalanges of

Your enemies approach.    


[Translation taken from John Harper, The Forms and Orders of Western Liturgy from the Tenth to the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Introduction and Guide for Students and Musicians (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 273.]

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

Et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo

Quia respexit humilitatem ancille sue ecce enim ex hox beatam me dicent omnes generationes

Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est et sanctum nomen ejus

Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum                                          

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo dispersit superbos mente cordis sui

Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles                                                      

Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes                                                       

Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordie sue. Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros Abraham et semini ejus in secula

Gloria Patri, et Filio, er Spiritui Sancto sicut erat in principio et nunc, et semper, et in secula secularum. Amen.


My soul doth magnify the Lord

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden, for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed

For he that is mighty hath magnified me and holy is his Name

And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations

He hath shewed strength with his arm, he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts

He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek

He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel as he promised to our forefathers Abraham and his seed for ever

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


3. Responsory "Amicum querit pristinum" for the feast of Saint Francis

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Amicum querit pristinum

qui spretum in cenobio

tunicula contexit contemptu gaudet hominum

Leprosis fit obsequio

quos antea despexit

Sub typo trium ordinum

tres nutu dei previo ecclesias erexit


He seeks the former friend

whom he had spurned in the monastery;

He weaves shirts and rejoices in the contempt of men;

He ministers to lepers,

whom earlier he had despised.

In the image of the three orders,

he built three churches at God’s command.

4. Responsory "Amica crucis" for the feast of Saint Clare

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Amica crucis plangere crucifixum novitias docet quam ipsa plangit.

Crux ei digno pondere

Maiores dat delicias.                                                                        

Quo maior dolor angit

Hec Christi sui munere morbos

atque molestias fugat dum cruce tangit.


The friend of the Cross teaches the novices to lament the crucified one

whom she herself laments.

The Cross gives greater delights to one who is worthy of its weight.

To the one whom greater grief troubles,   

This one with her gift of Christ avoids

affliction and troubles while she touches the Cross.


5. Responsory "Audit in evangelio" for the feast of Saint Francis

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Audit in evangelio que suis

Christus loquitur ad predicandum missis

hoc inquit est quod cupio

Letanter his innititur memorie commissis                                                 

Non utens virga calcio nec pera                                                       

Fune cingitur duplicibus dimissis.


He hears in the Gospel those things which

Christ says preaching to his followers;

this, he says, is what I desire.

He supports himself happily with these things, having committed them to memory.

Using neither stick nor shoe nor wallet, he girds himself with rope,

having abandoned stronger materials.

6. Responsory "Vivens in mundo labili" for the feast of Saint Clare

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Vivens in mundo labili

sponso coniuncta nobili

sursum deliciatur clausoque

carne fragili

tanquam in vase fictili

Thesauro gloriatur

Sit in rota versatuli fulta virtute

stabili cum Christo delectatur.

Living in a fleeting world,

Having been married to a noble husband,

She delights from on high

and with her fragile flesh closed

in an earthen vessel,

she glories in the treasure.

Let her be placed on a moveable wheel;

supported by stable virtue she delights with Christ.


7. Antiphon "Laudans laudare monuit" for the feast of Saint Francis

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Laudans laudare monuit

laus illi semper adfuit

laus inquam salvatoris

invitat aves bestias

et creaturas alias ad laudem conditoris.


Praising, he taught [us] to praise;

He was always praising;

Praise, I say, of the savior;

He invites birds, beasts,

And other creatures to praise the Creator.

8. Antiphon "Laudans laudare studeat" for the feast of Saint Clare

[Translation by Susan Boynton]

Laudans laudare studeat in laude semper

prodeat plebs ista salvatoris

quam tanta ditat sanctitas

non cessat ipsa civitas

a laude conditoris


One praising must always strive in praise to praise;

Let that people of the savior proceed,

whom such holiness enriches;

That city must not desist

From praise of the creator.

Text and Translation