Prefationstonen tonus solemnis som melodiskt sammanhållande element i den svenska reformationstidens mässa

  • Mattias Lundberg, Ph.D. Professor of Musicology, Uppsala University, Sweden


The Swedish Mass in the era of the Reformation features a distinct musical and liturgical peculiarity, namely the singing of three pre-viously melodically unrelated items – the preface (the first part of the Eucharistic prayer), the words of institution, and the Lord’s prayer – to the same melodic cantillation formula, the preface tone in the form generally called “tonus solemnis”. Since the words of institu-tion in the medieval Mass were read silently by the priest, and the Lord’s prayer was sung to its own peculiar melody, all reformationmovements of the sixteenth century had to tackle individually both in which order these were audibly to appear and to which melodies they were then to be sung. The only testified case outside the Swedish kingdom where all three of these elements of the Mass were sung to the preface tone is, rather surprisingly, Thomas Müntzer’s Order for the Church of Allstedt in the early 1520s. Scholars have previously been puzzled not only by the enigmatic origins of the Swedish solu-tion (traceable in the earliest printed Swedish Mass orders and coeval MSS of the 1530s, and thenceforth as the only ratified order all the way up to the early nineteenth century), but also by the unusual and sudden consistency from the very first appearance of this musical solution, which seems to suggest either some type of informally es-tablished practice prior to 1531, or a very strong external influence. This study investigates thoroughly the evidence that may be gleaned from extant sources, and examines the similarities and differences between the solutions found in the Stockholm and Allstedt Orders of the Mass. It is suggested that the sudden consistency of a seemingly novel achievement of musical unity through the preface tone may be explained by how already the Missale Upsalense of 1513 renders the entire Eucharistic section of the Mass musically.