Officium stellae (Gregorian chant)

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Editor: Richard Mix (submitted 2017-12-30).   Score information: Letter, 3 pages, 142 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: first half, in a rough try at importing square notes into Pages
Editor: Richard Mix (submitted 2017-01-02).   Score information: Letter, 2 pages, 54 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: 2nd half on 5-line staff; Offertory-length excerpt, from arrival of kings
Contributor: Richard Mix (submitted 2017-01-02).  Score information: Unknown, 4 pages   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Coussemacher's edition on pp. 242-246 of Drames Liturgiques Du Moyen Age (Coussemacher's commentary may be found in complete publication linked below)

General Information

Title: Officium stellae, The Play of the Three Kings
Composer: Anonymous (Gregorian chant)

Number of voices: 1v   Voicing: unison (6 roles are specified in addition to the cantor)
Genre: SacredLiturgical drama for Epiphany

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published:

Description: A related source from Rouen, a 14c Ordinal with expanded rubrics but no music, is translated in Adams: The Chief Pre-Elizabethean Dramas (1924, copyright renewed 1951 but apparently not for 2nd term in 1978, which would expire the end of 2019). It adds a processional antiphon "if needed" and directions for the lighting of an elaborate chandelier.

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

In die Epiphanie, Tercia cantata, TRES CLERICI de majori sede cappis et coronos ornati, ex tribus partibus cum suis famulis, tunicis et amictis indutis ante altare conveniant.

PRIMUS stans retro altare, quasi ab Oriente veniens, stellam baculo ostendat, dicat simplici voce:

Stella fulgore nimio rutilat.

SECUNDUS a parte dextera venies:

Que regem regum natum demonstrat.

TERCIUS a sinistra parte veniens, dicat versum:

Quem venturum olim prophecia signaverat.

Tunc regressi, ante altare aggregati osculentur sese, simul dicentes versum:

Eamus ergo et inquiramus eum, offerentes ei munera: aurum, thus et myrrham.

Hoc finito, eat processio ut in dominicis, CANTORE incipiente:

Magi veniunt ab Oriente, Jerosolimam querentes et dicentes: Ubi est qui natus est, cujus stellam vidimus, et venimus adorare Dominum.


Cum natus esset Jhesus in Bethleem Jude in diebus Herodis regis, ecce magi ab Oriente venerunt Jerosolimam, dicentes: Ubi est?

Ad introitum navis ecclesie, MAGI ostendentes stellam cum baculis, incipiant antiphonam et cantantes pergant ad altare, dicentes:

Ecce stella in Oriente previsa;iterum precedit nus lucida. Hec, inquam, stella natum demonstrat de quo Balaam cecinerat.


Oritur stella ex Jacob, et exurget homo de Israhel et confringet omnes duces alienigenarum, et erit omnis terra possessio eius.

Hoc finito, DUO de majori sede dalmaticis induti in utraque parte altaris stantes, submissa voce inter se dicant:

Qui sunt hi qui, stella duce, nos adeuntes, inaudita ferunt?

Tunc MAGI respondeant:

Nos sumus quos cernitis, reges Tharsis et Arabum et Saba, dona ferentes Christo Regi nato, Domino, quem, stella deducente, adorare venimus.

Tunc DUO DALMATICI, aperientes cortinam, dicant:

Ecce, Puer adest quem queritis. Jam preparate adorare, quia ipse est redemptio mundi.

Tunc procidentes simul REGES, ita salutent Puerum et dicant:

Salve, princeps seculorum!

[Tunc PRIMUS offerat, ita dicens:] [ms. repeats previous direction]

Suscipe, Rex, aurum.

SECUNDUS offerat, ita dicens:

Tolle thus, tu vere Deus.

Postea TERCIUS offerat, ita dicens:

Myrrham, signum sepulture.

Tunc orantibus Magis et quasi somno sopitis, QUIDAM PUER, alba indutus, quasi Angelus, antiphonam ante altare illis dicat:

Impleta sunt omnia que prophetice dicta sunt. Ite, viam rmeantes aliam, nec delatores tanti regis puniendi eritis.

Finita antiphona, CANTOR incipiat responsorium ad introitum chori:

Tria sunt munera preciosa que obtulerunt Magi Domino in die ista, et habent in se divina misteria. In auro et ostendatur regis potencia; in thure sacerdotem magnum considera; et in myrrha Dominicam sepulturam.


Salutis nostre auctorem Magi venerati sunt in cunabulis et de theauris suis misticas ei munerum species obtulerunt. In auro, &c.

Sequitur Missa, ad quam tres Reges regant chorum qui cantent: Kyrie fons bonitatis, et Alleluia, et Agnus, et Sancus festive. Officium incipiatur.

English.png English translation

On the day of Epiphany, Tierce being sung, three clerks of the upper [row of choir] stalls, adorned with robes and crowns, from three directions with their servants in tunics and amices gather before the altar.

The first standing behind the altar, as if coming from the east, points to the star with his staff and says simply:

This star shines with exceeding brightness.

The second approaches from the right :

It shows the birth of the King of Kings.

The third, coming from the left side, says the verse:

Whose coming was long foretold by prophets.

Then they return, gathering before the altar and kiss, at the same time saying the verse:

So let us go and seek him, and offering gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

This done, they process as on Sunday, and the cantor begins :

Magi came from the East to Jerusalem seeking, and saying, Where is he that is born? We have seen his star and are come to worship the Lord.


When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, behold, Magi from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he…

Entering the nave of the Church, they point to the star with a staff, and singing the antiphon begin to make their way to the altar, saying,

Behold, the star already seen in the East again leads us, shining brightly. This star shows the birth of him whom Balaam had sung:

Versus :

A star shall come out of Jacob, and a man arise from Israel and break all the princes of the nations, and all earth shall be His possession.

This done, two of the upper row, wearing dalmatics and standing on each of the altar, say to each other in low voices:

Who are these that, star-led, approach bearing unheard-of things?

They respond :

We whom you see are kings of Tarshish and Arabia and Saba, bearing gifts to Christ, the newborn King, the Lord, whom we, star-led, are come to worship.

Then shall two in dalmatics draw the curtain and say:

Behold, the boy whom you seek. Now prepare to worship the redeemer of the world .

Then prostrating themselves together they greet the boy, saying :

Hail, Prince of the ages!

[This is the first, the priest, saying thus :] [ms. Previous lend direction ]

Receive, O King, gold .

The second offers, saying :

Accept frankincense, thou very God.

Afterwards TERCIUS, the priest, saying as follows:

Myrrh, a sign of thy burial.

Then having prayed and, as it were, falling asleep, a young man before the altar, dressed in white as if an angel, sings to them the antiphon:

Fulfilled are all things spoken by the prophets. Return by another way, lest ye inform and draw punishment upon a King.

After the antiphon, the cantor shall begin responsory as the entrance to the choir:

Three are the rich gifts brought unto the Lord on this day, having in themselves the divine mysteries. In gold the power of the king is shown; in the incense consider the High Priest; and in myrrh the burial of the Lord.

Versus :

The author of our salvation was worshiped by Magi in His cradle, and from their treasure they unto Him mystic gifts: Gold, &c.

Then follows the Mass, at which the three kings rule the choir, who shall sing : Kyrie fons bonitatis, and the Alleluia, and the festival Agnus and Sanctus. Then the Office is begun.