Plainchant: O oliva fructifera

Saint Bernard of ClairvauxO oliva fructifera is the first responsory of the third nocturn for the office of Matins in the feast of St Bernard (August 20). This is a nice rubrica in mode 7, with a wide ambitus, reaching unusual high notes as you may notice during the listening. The text reads O oliva fructifera in domo dei oleum laetitiae fovens beneficiis coruscans miraculis fac nos ejus qua frueris lucis suavitatisque participes, with the verse reading Introisti in potentias domini et jam potentior ad impetrandum.

Every time I listen to these responsories, not only because they are sung by Ensemble Organum (under the leadership of Marcel Pérès), I’m struck by the elegant melodic lines. These, although extremely melismatic when compared with the music for other important Cistercian feasts, flow with extremely elegancy which might well be a strong indicator that this music was carefully carved and structured for the feast of Bernard.

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