Quem Quaeritis?



  • (Latin: Whom are you looking for?) In the early medieval Church,the most famous example of a trope, a short piece of sungdialogue added to the liturgy. It comes from a 9th-century manuscriptfrom St Gall, France. On Easter Sunday a priest dressed in a whiterobe to represent the angel at Christ's empty tomb addressed threechoirboys representing the three Marys:
    Quen quaeritis in sepulchro, O Christocolae?
    (Whom seek you in the sepulchre, O Christian women?)

    After explaining that Christ had already risen, the priestand choirboys led the congregation in an Easter hymn. By the 10thcentury this simple sequence had become more elaborate, with monksin Winchester and elsewhere miming the action; additional scenes andeven comic characters were sometimes added. Other dialogues were devisedwith the famous introduction, including a Christmas trope:

    Quem quaeritis in praesepe, pastores, dicite?
    (Whom are you looking for in the crib, shepherds, tellus?)