Robert de Reims: Songs and Motets

Eglal Doss-Quinby, Gaël Saint-Cricq, Samuel N. Rosenberg (ed.), Robert de Reims : Songs and Motets. Penn State University Press, 2020


Robert de Reims, also known as “La Chievre de Rains,” was among the earliest trouvères—poet-composers who were contemporaries of the troubadours but who wrote in the dialects of northern France. This critical edition provides new translations into English and modern French of all the songs and motets ascribed to him, along with the original texts, the extant music, and a substantive introduction.

Active sometime between 1190 and 1220, Robert was an influential figure in the literary circles of Arras. Thirteen compositions set to music are here attributed to him, including nine chansons and four polyphonic motets that were broadly disseminated in the thirteenth century and beyond. Robert’s work is exceptional on a number of fronts. He lavished particular care on the phonic harmony of his words. Acoustic luxuriance and expertise in rhyming, grounded in the play of echoes and variation (often extending into the music), constitute the hallmark of his poetry. Moreover, he is the earliest trouvère known to have composed a parodic sotte chanson contre Amours (silly song against Love).

Located clearly at the nexus of monophonic song and polyphony, Robert’s corpus also poses the intriguing question of trouvère participation in the development of the polyphonic repertory. The case of Robert de Reims jostles and tempers the standard history of the chanson and motet.

Accessible and instructive, this trilingual critical edition of his complete works makes the oeuvre of this innovative and consequential trouvère available in one volume for the first time.

More information can be found on the editor’s website.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Manuscripts Cited


  • Robert de Reims, dit La Chievre: What We Know, What We Can Surmise
  • The Corpus and Its Manuscript Tradition
  • Thematic Content
  • Language
  • Versification: Strophic Structures, Rhyme, and Other Phonic Echoes
  • Music and Text in the Works of Robert de Reims
  • Editorial Policy for the Texts and Translations
  • Editorial Policy for the Music
  • Presentation of the Critical Apparatus
  • Tables
  • Notes

Songs and Motets

  • 1. Bien s’est Amors honie — Chanson
  • 2. Plaindre m’estuet de la bele en chantant — Chanson
  • 3. Qui bien veut Amors descrivre — Chanson à refrain
  • 4a. Quant voi le douz tens venir — Chanson avec des refrains
  • 4b. Qant voi le douz tens venir / (immo)latus — Motet
  • 5a. L’autrier de jouste un rivage — Pastourelle
  • 5b. L’autrier de jouste un rivage / domino quoniam — Motet
  • 6. Touse de vile champestre — Pastourelle
  • 7a. Quant fueillissent li buison — Chanson avec des refrains
  • 7b. Quant florissent li buisson / domino quoniam — Motet
  • 8a. Main s’est levee Aëliz — Chanson de rencontre
  • 8b. Main s’est levee Aëlis / (mansuetudi)nem — Motet
  • 9. Ja mais, por tant con l’ame el cors me bate — Sotte chanson contre Amours


Index of First Lines

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