I finally – finally! – got to hear the music hand lettered on that fifteenth century Italian vellum. It’s just the chorus and part of a verse from an Antiphon, the one written for Maundy Thursday at the ceremony during which a bishop (or even the Pope) washed the feet of some poor men. I believe the King of England did it, too, because there are some coins given to the men whose feet were washed, and you can today buy a set of Maundy Money issued to mark the occasion.
But an even more amazing fact: the words and melody are still around! It is, in fact, number 606 in the Episcopal hymnal. In English, of course, but the melody, plaintive and sweet, is the same: Where charity and love exist, there also is God.
Lawrence Henry, very dear and long-time friend, came to St. George’s with his wife, Susan, and he played the melody on the piano while Ellen and I listened. And Susan found it in our hymnal. Ellen recorded his playing, and his remarks, and his replaying it while setting harmonies around it until I was dizzy with pleasure. God bless him.
You can find the melody on the Internet, search via Google or YouTube for Ubi Caritas.
Tomorrow I am giving a talk on my coin collection and my mystery novels – they couldn’t decide which subject they preferred, so I am doing both.