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MS Florence 2794

 

 
De vous servir m’est prins envye 3v · Fresnau / Hayne

Appearance in the group of related chansonniers:

*Laborde ff. 103v-104 »De vous servir m’est prins envye« 3v PDF · Facsimile

Other sources:

Bologna Q17 ff. 33v-34 »De vous servir« 3v Hayne
Cop 1848 p. 202 »De vous servir m’est prins envye« 3v
Florence 229 ff. 281v-282 »De vous servir« 3v
Florence 2356 ff. 85v-86 »Devos servir« 3v
*Florence 2794 ff. 20v-21 »De vous servir m’est prins envye« 3v Jo. fresnau  PDF
Rome XIII.27 ff. 87v-88 »De vous servir« 3v Ayne

Edition: Fresnau 2004, p. 55 (Laborde).

Text: Rondeau cinquain; full text in Laborde; also in Cop 1848 and Florence 2794; also found in Paris 1719 ff. 27v-28 and in a different version (after the refrain) in Chasse 1509 f. t3.

After Laborde:

De vous servir m’est prins envye
plus que nulle qui soit envye
tant ay cogneu en vous de bien;
et vouldroye que sceusses bien (1)
combien ma pensee est ravye.

Tousjours seray, quoy qu’on vous dye,
en ce vouloir, n’en doubtes mye,
et a ce propos je me tien:

De vous servir m’est prins envye
plus que nulle qui soit envye
tant ay cogneu en vous de bien.

Tant en vostre bonte me fye,
ma bonne maistraisse et m’amye,
que me feres quelqu’entretien;
en ce monde ne quiers plus rien,
car mon cueur tousjours me convye

de vous servir m’est prins envye
plus que nulle qui soit envye
tant ay cogneu en vous de bien;
et vouldroye que sceusses bien
combien ma pensee est ravye.

It is my desire to serve you
more than any other woman alive,
so much of value have I found in you;
and I would like you to know well
how much my thought is ravished.

I will always, whatever someone tells you,
have this wish – do not doubt it –
and I keep to this word:

It is my desire to serve you
more than any other woman alive,
so much of value have I found in you.

I put my faith in your goodness,
my good mistress and my darling,
that you vill grant me to be with you;
in this world I shall ask for nothing more,
for my heart allways commends that

it is my desire to serve you
more than any other woman alive,
so much of value have I found in you;
and I would like you to know well
how much my thought is ravished.

1) Florence 2794, lines 4-5, “... sceussies combien / ma pensee en est ravye"; Cop1848, “... sceusiez combien / en est ma pensee ravie"; Paris 1719 and Chasse 1509, “... sceusiez combien / ma pensee en vous est ravye" (and I would like you to know how much / my tought is ravished by you).

Evaluation of the sources:

Entered in the last section of the Laborde chansonnier by a later hand (LabordeC). This scribe is also the main scribe of the French MS Florence 2794, where he copied the song as one of his first entries. The two copies are rather carefully done with attention to the placement of the text under the superius part.

However, some differences crop up. Most of them can easily be explained as traces of customary scribal interventions, namely concerning the use of coloration (S bb. 14.2-15.1) and ligatures (C bb. 28-29, 34.2-35.1 and 36). There is also some variances in the notes: In the tenor bars 14.2-15.1, the thre notes b-a-g in Laborde – correctly – are two fusae and a minima,  while they in Florence 2794 are rhythmized as three semiminimae; the exemplar may have been diffucult to read here. Also the descending scale in the tenor bars 20-24 is broken in Florence 2794 by changing the e into d in bar 23.1. What is more difficult to explain, is the scribe’s introduction of a key signature of one flat in the tenor in Florence 2794, carefully notated all the way through. This has an effect on the sound of the song (see the edition), which most sources agree is pure Mixolydian. Finally, the last lines of the refrain text are corrupt in Florence 2794 (see above – line 4 has a syllable too much, and line 5 is one short), while the same scribe in Laborde comes up with a solution different from all other sources and not very elegant (cf. the collision of “bien / combien”), but exhibiting the correct number of syllables.

This situation may have arisen as a result of one of two scenarios:

1) The scribe used two different exemplars. A sort of confirmation is delivered by the younger Florentine MS Florence 2356, where the song also has a key signature of one flat in the tenor. This means that a tradition of a version with a one-flat tenor was in existence in France as well as in Italy alongside the ‘normal’ version. The version in Florence 2356 was probably not copied with Florence 2794 as its model, because Florence 2356 except for the key signature retains the correct version of the tenor as found in Laborde (cf. bb. 14.2-15.1 and 23.1).

2) The scribe used only one exemplar, the one with the one-flat tenor described above, but he became aware that the song was somewhat corrupt in this version, and revised it accordingly in Laborde by deleting the key signature, copying the music with greater care, and finding a unique solution to the unsatisfactory poetic lines at the end of the refrain.

In both scenarios it is difficult to think that he made the Laborde version earlier than the one in Florence 2794. He either got hold of a better exemplar for the Laborde version or he revised the one he had, the reverse seems improbable considering the professional status of the scribe. It is very interesting that exactly the same relationship between the sources appears in connection with a song that the second scribe of Florence 2794 copied into spaces left empty by the main scribe. It is Loyset Compere’s »Dictes moy toutes vos pensees«, which this scribe added along with two other songs in the last pages of the Dijon chansonnier (see the remarks and edition).

Even if we might think that it is not a very remakable song, “De vous servir” had a quite wide circulation. It was entered in Italian and French sources around and after 1500. In two Italian sources (Bologna Q17 and Rome XIII.27) it was ascribed to Hayne van Ghizeghem. This ascription is less credible than the one in Florence 2794 to “Jo Fresnau”. This MS originated around 1480, probably with close connections to the French royal chapel, where Jehan Fresnau had been a singer from 1469 to 1475 and probably again before 1480. (1)

See also my article The French musical manuscript in Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, Ms. 2794, and the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers.

Comments on text and music:

The love poem opening in rime é quivoque, which the poet, however, was not quite able to sustain, exhibits a clever linking of the couplets and of tierce and refrain. The setting is declamatory-melismatic with a hint of imitation. The tenor is the most interesting part melodically, and it shows some rhythmical tension by its hinting at triple time. The setting with its wide-range voices and tenor and contratenor in the same range could be composed at any time after c. 1460.

PWCH February 2012


1) The identification of the scribes in Florence 2794 was published by Joshua Rifkin in 1973 in ‘Scribal Concordances for Some Renaissance Manuscripts in Florentine Libraries’ (Rifkin 1973, pp. 318-326); concerning Fresnau, see Allan W. Atlas/Jane Alden, “Fresneau, Jehan” in Grove Music Online, and Jean Fresnau (O. Carrillo & A. Magro, eds.), Messe et chansons. Turnhout 2004, pp. vii-xii.