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date: 18 January 2020


  • Ruth Steiner
  • , revised by Keith Falconer


A prosula is a text created to fit a melisma in Gregorian chant. Alternative terms similarly employed in the medieval manuscripts include ‘prosa’, ‘tropus’ and ‘verba’ ( see Prosa and Trope ).

There are prosulas for chants of both the Mass and the Office, and, within the Mass, for both the Ordinary and the Proper. Best known are those for the Kyrie eleison; but more numerous than these in 10th- and 11th-century sources are those for offertory verses and alleluias. The prosula is nearly always in strictly syllabic style, with one syllable for each note of the melisma. As a rule, the contours, phrasing and articulation of the melody were carefully observed by the prosula writer, so that the phrases of text match those of the melody and accented syllables fall on appropriate notes. The beginnings and endings of words in the text often coincide with the beginnings and endings of neumes in the melisma....

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