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Luto carens et latere
According to the thirteenth-century chronicler William of Armorica, ‘the Lord has the power to free the Holy Land from the hands of the infidels since he had the power to lift up the sons of Israel from the stones’. This was a fundamental conviction of crusading, chroniclers sometimes comparing the Christian armies on the move to the Israelites journeying from Egypt and passing over the Red Sea. This three-voice conductus is written in a dance form, closely akin to the musico-poetic forms of the Old French rondets de carole and perhaps an allusion to the dance of Miriam and her sisters after the Red Sea crossing in Exodus 15:20: ‘And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.’ Like William of Armorica, the poet alludes to the enforced manual labour of the Israelites in captivity with ‘mud and brick’.

from notes by Christopher Page © 1998

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