As a cantilène, a short poem is described in mediaeval French literature which was intended for the sung lecture. The Cantilène is a variant of the Latin sequence, which describes a lyric, hymn-like singing, which means a texting of the Gregorian Hallelujah in church music. The Cantilène was mostly a sacred song that served the veneration of saints, or lyrical songs, which were an integral part of the Christian liturgy. Since the 13th century there have also been known as “Cantilène”, generally secular dance, love, complaint, or prize. Earlier, it was assumed that the same term was also an epic-lyrical heroic element, a precursor of the chanson de geste, one of the oldest narrative genres of French literature-this presumption is now contested.
The term is derived from the French noun cantilène, which can be translated with singsang. In fact, the translation of the word already refers to the fundamental point: namely, a simple melody, which someone sings before him [and who usually reveres a saint or is part of the Christian liturgy]. As an example, the Cantilène de sainte Eulalie can be cited, which in German is also known as the Eulalia sequence and can be dated approximately to the year 880.
The Eulalia sequence is the earliest example of French hagiography, that is, the representation of the life of a saint. It comes from an anonymous author (see Adespota) and reports the martyrdom of the young Eulalia. Through their Christian faith, the wrath of a pagan ruler drew upon him and was to be punished for it. But instead of bending, she trusted in God, whereupon she was to be burnt at the stake to avoid her faith.
Because of their firm belief, however, the flames could not harm them, which is why they were threatened with the beetle. The young Eulalia then turned to her God and asked to be saved from him. Shortly before the ax took her life, her soul arose in the form of a dove and flew to heaven. The poetry ends with a short epilogue, in which God is asked for mildness.
Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
The Cantilène means, in the French medieval literature, a poem intended for the sung lecture. To a certain extent, such a poem was a kind of sacred song, and served the purpose of worship, which is why it became part and parcel of the Christian liturgy.
Since the 13th century partial, but secular dance, love, complaint or prize-winners are designated with the term. Then the word is best understood as a kind of lyrical song, which is rather simple in nature and reminiscent of Singsang.