Extolling St. Martin

The Rose Ensemble performs music written to venerate a famous medieval saint.

The Rose Ensemble
Photo by Michael Haug
The Rose Ensemble

St. Martin of Tours is an iconic medieval saint, a soldier who became a pacifist. As bishop of Tours he lived in a monk’s cell, rather than the bishop’s palace, and practiced humility and hospitality to even the most common men. One of the best-known stories about him is that while still a soldier, when he came across a freezing beggar, he took his sword, split his cloak in two, and gave half to the shivering man.

The Rose Ensemble celebrates this religious leader, folk hero, and political figure with Candlelight Concert: Martin’s Cloak—Chant, Poetry, and Prose from Medieval Tours, France.

During his life, and following his death in 397 AD, Martin was the subject of much liturgical veneration. To extol St. Martin, monks would write new verses to the responsories of the mass and other chants featured in the daily liturgies. But according to Rose Ensemble artistic director Jordan Sramek, these verses were not easily accessible. “When the liturgies came to be published, the breviaries were sliced up and much of the margins were lost.”

At a conference in France in the early 2000s, Sramek met an Israeli musicologist, Yossi Maurey. “He was working on a whole set of fragments of plain chant and poetry, recreating it so that it could be performed,” says Sramek. Since then, Maurey has compiled more material, including a 15th-century Martinian motet. “This is a kind of geek moment for me, rediscovering this music,” Sramek admits. “But the music is so extraordinary.” Feb. 13–16. Various locations, 651-225-4340,