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Actually the text with music is not in (High) German but in Eastern Middle Dutch, or, if you prefer, Lower Middle Saxonian. The text without music lower on the page is indeed in High German. The provenance of this text may be de Broeders des gemenen levens lead by Geert Grote in Deventer, translated into High German somewhere in the High German language area. The Broeders favoured hymn singing in the vernacular.

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Thank you very much. I think you're talking about that?

You are right, "gebleven" and "geloek" (you might pronounce the "g" with affricata sound) is not exactly German!

In linguistics we say Mittelhochdeutsch, Middle means the German is between Althochdeutsch and Neuhochdeutsch, and the classification Hoch/Nieder is related to the sound shift of the Benrath line near Köln (Appel/Apfel) which also concerns Dutch and English (therefore Netherlands).

Everybody who lives in Cologne, knows that Dutch is and was one of the local languages...

Dear Arnold den Teuling, thank you a lot!

I'm on the way to perform this hymn with my Ensemble (in the context of a programme with medieval music from Franciscan monasteries) and I appreciate your input very much!

I agree: it is in Middle Dutch. But I don't see a big difference to the text lower on the page … to me it seems to be the same dialect. I did check the manuscript (, in the "Vita" it seems to be the same situation?

However: are you able to read the text? Since it is not MY dialect (I'm from the modern East Germany) I unfortunately do not understand all the words completely… I tried to find an edition in the web, but I think there is nothing yet.

And what would you think about the function? The text lower on the page seems to be a prayer. So it might be a kind of Antiphon?

Thank you again and best regards,

Susanne Ansorg

Even for a native Dutch speaker with experience in medieval texts this is not an easy text. I succeeded in making a transcription thanks to your link. I agree with your opinion that the text at the bottom of the page is in the same version of Dutch/German. It is no doubt a prayer, spoken after singing the hymn. I will send my interpretation of the hymn text by e-mail.

Wow! That is GREAT! Thank you a LOT!

It is so far the only known medieval vernacular text in a German dialect with music – or am I wrong?

I do not know any other, but I am not an expert.

I mean concerning Franziskus; I will ask Marc Lewon, he might know about it. Thank you again!

I identified the melody in the Cantus database with a latin text O virum mirabilem in signis, from ms. Dk kk 3449. It is evident that this text was translated in eastern Middle Dutch, keeping the same melody.

This hymn kept on fascinating me, and so I wrote an article on it, published in the Tijdschrift voor Gregoriaans 42 (2017) p. 122-129, accessible online by

Those who can read the medieval hymn will not have difficulties in understanding modern Dutch.

The main results are: the language is not eastern Middle Dutch or Lower Saxonian, but South Lower Franconian, a form of Middle Dutch spoken east of the modern Dutch province Limburg, between the Uerdinger and Benrather Linie, with some words in a more southern form.  (Formerly this language was known as Ripuarian).

The hymn is a translation of a Latin hymn O virum mirabilem by Julianus de Spira, with the same melody. The codex in the Bibliothèque nationale de France should be dated end 14th- first quarter of the 15th century.

This Gregorian chant with a  text in the vernacular is presumably unique in the middle ages. Nor to me, neither to several consulted experts another example is known.

There seems to be no connection with the Broeders des gemenen levens.

Dear Arnold

I had not the slightest idea that this discussion was so inspiring!

My compliments for this very well-done article and I feel deeply honoured to be mentioned there with some basics that every student of German historical linguistics is taught at the very beginning. The Benrath line is indeed crucial for the common classification (which is the base behind the distinction Ober-/Nieder-) and not very crucial for a localisation of this language... Hence, I agree that here the “Ürdinger Linie” is rather relevant.

As I understood from your musical comparison, the music comes from a slightly elaborated form of psalmody used for the recitation of the last three Laudate-psalms. The Franciscan orientation of devotio moderna explains the background of this translation, it is indeed a very elegant translation of the Latin text and quite precise concerning the poetic metre.

Thanks for your compliments!



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