Prose (Lat. Prosa), the French name for the Sequence.
(1.) The prayer sung in the Mass after the Gradual and before the Gospel on great festivals. It required the license of the diocesan or the superior of a monastery before it could be used.
(2.) A canticle in which no metre is defined. An expression, in loose measure, of the principal circumstances of a festival to be added to the pneuma or adapted to its notes. St. Cmasarius of Aries required the laity in the diocese to sing proses and antiphons in church — some in Greek and some in Latin — aloud like the clergy, in order to introduce among the people a love of psalmody and hymns. These compositions, called prosce, are in rhyme, but ignore the law of measure and quantity established by the ancient Greeks and Romans. As they were sung after the Gradual or Introits, they were likewise called Sequatio (q.v.). The use of prosing began near the close of the 9th century. Notker, abbot of St. Gall, cir. 880, composed and favored the use of proses, but certainly did not invent them. He says that lie found one in an antiphonar brought from a Benedictine abbey near Rome, which had been burned by the Normans in 841. Pope Nicholas first authorized their use. Proses in the Middle Ages were written in the vulgar tongue for the edification of the people. These proses, having become exceedingly numerous, and in some places even ridiculous, were retrenched by the Council of Cologne in 1536, and of Rheims in 1564. The four proses used since the time of Pius V are Victimae Paschali Laudes, for Easter: leni Creator Spiritus, appointed by pope Innocent 3, at Whitsuntide; Lautda Sion Staletoremn, for Corpus Christi Day, writ ten either by Bonaventura or St. Thomas Aquinas; and the Dies irae, Dies illa, used in the commemorations of the dead, and attributed to Thomas de Cellano, or Salerno, a Franciscan, cir. 1230, cardinal Ursin (who died 1204), cardinal D'Aquasporta (who died 1302), Humbert, general of the Dominicans (who died 1277), Auguslus Biuzellensis, or Bonaventura. The Stabat Malter Dolorosa, written by pope Innocent 3, or Giacomo da Toda, a Minorite, in the 14th century, is a prose. Possibly the chants used by St. Allhelm, bishop of Sherborne, sitting on the bridge of Malmesbury, to win the attention of the passers-by, were of the nature of proses. In the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries rhythmical chants were sung at the end of a banquet which the pope gave to his clergy. At Sens, Lyons, Paris, and Rouen proses were in frequent use (unlike the Roman custom), but they were mere rhapsodies, as we have in one instance preserved to us "Alle — necnon et perenne celeste — luia." After the prose, the Mass-book is removed from the Epistle to the Gospel side, to represent the translation of authority from the Aaronitish to the apostolical priesthood. — Walcott, Sacred Archceology, s.v.; Burney, Hist. of Music, s.v.