Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Hail true body, born of Mary": Plainsong from the Guildford Cathedral Choir

I just became aware of "Archives of Sound," a YouTube channel apparently completely dedicated to videos (which are actually audio files along with still images) from the "Guildford Cathedral Choir (1961-1974) during Barry Rose's tenure as Organist & Master of the Choristers."    I'm quite sure I'll be posting from this collection fairly often; there's lots of Anglican Chant.

This is a lovely recording of an English-language version of the Gregorian chant Eucharistic hymn Ave Verum Corpus, recorded at Guildford Cathedral in May of 1967:




These are the words they are using here; I haven't been able to determine their provenance:

Hail, true body, born of Mary,
by a wondrous virgin birth.
Thou who on the cross wast offered
to redeem the sons of earth;

Thou whose side became a fountain
pouring forth thy precious blood,
give us now; and at our dying,
thine own self to be our food.

O sweetest Jesu,
O gracious Jesu,
O Jesu, blessed Mary's Son.

Wikipedia has the Latin words, along with a more literal English translation:
Ave verum corpus, natum
de Maria Virgine,
vere passum, immolatum
in cruce pro homine
cuius latus perforatum
fluxit aqua et sanguine:
esto nobis praegustatum
in mortis examine.
O Iesu dulcis, O Iesu pie,
O Iesu, fili Mariae.
Miserere mei. Amen.
Hail, true Body, born
of the Virgin Mary,
who having truly suffered, was sacrificed
on the cross for mankind,
whose pierced side
flowed with water and blood:
May it be for us a foretaste [of the Heavenly banquet]
in the trial of death.
O sweet Jesus, O pious Jesus,
O Jesus, son of Mary,
have mercy on me. Amen.


Here's the score of the chant in Latin from the Liber Usualis:



More about this hymn, from the same Wikipedia link above:
"Ave verum corpus" is a short Eucharistic hymn that has been set to music by various composers. It dates from the 14th century and has been attributed to Pope Innocent VI.[1]

During the Middle Ages it was sung at the elevation of the host during the consecration. It was also used frequently during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The hymn's title means "Hail, true body", and is based on a poem deriving from a 14th-century manuscript from the Abbey of Reichenau, Lake Constance.[citation needed] The poem is a meditation on the Catholic belief in Jesus's Real Presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist, and ties it to the Catholic conception of the redemptive meaning of suffering in the life of all believers.


Barry Rose has written choral music, too; I've sung some of his Responses, for Mattins or Evensong (I can't quite recall at the moment).

I had actually never heard the Gregorian version of this song until today - but I have heard many composed versions.  Most famous, perhaps, is the Mozart version, here sung by King's College, Cambridge:




William Byrd also set this hymn:




Another well-known polyphonic setting is Edward Elgar's:




This is one I've just heard for the first time; interestingly, it seems only to be available on Chinese video sites!  And so, I'm not sure who the composer is, but the singers are the Salisbury Cathedral Choristers:



Clearly a more contemporary setting; if I learn more about it, I'll come back to post again.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (September 29): Benedicite Dominum ("Bless the Lord, all ye his angels")

Benedicite Dominum is the name of both the Introit and the Gradual for this feast day.  The text for both is taken from Psalm 102:20 (103:20 in the Anglican reckoning), followed by the wonderful Verse 1 from the same Psalm:
Bless the Lord, all ye his angels: you that are mighty in strength, and execute his word, hearkening to the voice of his orders.

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name.

Here's an mp3 of the Introit from ChristusRex.org, sung by the Benedictine monks of São Paolo; below is the chant score:




Clearly, this chant is used at some other time than for St.MaAA; an "Alleluia" has been added to be sung during Eastertide ("T.P." = Tempus Paschale).  For what purpose?  I'm not clear yet, but am on the case.  I'm thinking it may be for celebrations of the dedications of churches named after St. Michael - or perhaps for Votive masses in his honor?  I will see what I can find out.

Unfortunately, I haven't found an audio or video file of the Gradual; that is really too bad, because it looks like it must be a beautiful chant!  Here's the elaborate score:




There is, though, at least one polyphonic setting of the Gradual, along with a setting of the Offertory, Stetit angelus.  The composer is the 18th-century Brazilian musician José Maurício Nunes Garcia; you can get all the words at the Vimeo page.


"Gradual e Ofertório a São Miguel Arcângelo" - Pe. José Maurício Nunes Garcia - Madrigal Contemporâneo from Lúcio Zandonadi on Vimeo.



Interestingly, the Liber Usualis 1961 (which was the book for the old, Tridentine Rite), calls this feast "Dedication of the Church of St. Michael, Archangel."    Hymn melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books, though, calls it straightforwardly "The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels."  I'm actually not sure what's going on at this point; did the feast originate at the dedication of a particular church, then evolve during in the Middle Ages into a more general feast day?  Or was "St. Michael and All Angels" peculiar to the British Isles, while the rest of the church went on celebrating the Dedication of a particular church?   Or did all of Western Christendom celebrate the general feast - until at some point the Roman Catholic Church reverted to the earlier name and celebration?  I'm not sure, and I'm seeing conflicting information about this so far; I'll have to continue to look at this.  (There is also a "Feast of the Guardian Angels," celebrated by Catholics on October 2 - so the whole thing does seem to be quite complicated, all in all.  More to come, hopefully!)

In any case, the church referred to - and it's sometimes called a "basilica" - is appearently the Church of St. Michael on Mount Gargano; it was originally dedicated at some point prior to the year 493.    This comes from the Wikipedia entry for "The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo":
The Sanctuary of Monte Sant'Angelo sul Gargano, sometimes called simply Monte Gargano, is a Catholic sanctuary on Mount Gargano, Italy, part of the commune of Monte Sant'Angelo, in the province of Foggia, northern Apulia.

It is the oldest shrine in Western Europe dedicated to the archangel Michael and has been an important pilgrimage site since the Middle Ages. The historic site and its environs are protected by the Parco Nazionale del Gargano.

In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of a group of seven inscribed as Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 A.D.).

Here are some images from that page.  The first one's labeled "Santuario di San Michele Arcangelo a Monte Sant'Angelo":



This one of the tower was taken by user Idéfix:



 Tango7174 offers this image of a statue of St. Michael from the exterior of the church:




Bartleby.com also has some interesting stuff about the feast from "Rev. Alban Butler's The Lives of the Saints, 1866 (Volume IX: September)":
September 29
The Dedication of St. Michael’s Church

[Or, the Festival of St. Michael and All the Holy Angels.]  THIS festival has been kept with great solemnity on the 29th of September ever since the fifth age, and was certainly celebrated in Apulia in 493. The dedication of the famous church of St. Michael on Mount Gargano, in Italy, 1 gave occasion to the institution of this feast in the West, which is hence called in the Martyrologies of St. Jerom, Bede, and others, The dedication of St. Michael. The dedication of St. Michael’s church in Rome, upon Adrian’s Mole, which was performed by Pope Boniface IV. in 610, and that of several other churches in the West, in honour of this arch-angel, were performed on this same day. 2 Churches were likewise erected in the East, in honour of St. Michael and other holy angels, from the time when the Christian worship was publicly established by the conversion of Constantine, doubtless upon the model of little oratories and churches, which had been formerly raised in the intervals of the general persecutions, in which storms they were again thrown down. Sozomen informs us, that Constantine the Great built a famous church in honour of this glorious archangel, called Michaelion, and that in it the sick were often cured, and other wonders wrought through the intercession of St. Michael. This historian assures us, that he had often experienced such relief here himself; and he mentions the miraculous cures of Aquilin, an eminent lawyer, and of Probian, a celebrated physician, wrought in the same place. This church stood about four miles from Constantinople; a monastery was afterwards built contiguous to it. Four churches in honour of St. Michael stood in the city of Constantinople itself; their number was afterwards increased to fifteen, which were built by several emperors. 3
  Though only St. Michael be mentioned in the title of this festival, it appears from the prayers of the church that all the good angels are its object, together with this glorious prince and tutelar angel of the church. On it we are called upon, in a particular manner, to give thanks to God for the glory which the angels enjoy, and to rejoice in their happiness. Secondly, to thank him for his mercy to us in constituting such glorious beings to minister to our salvation, by aiding and assisting us. Thirdly, to join them in adoring and praising God with all possible ardour, desiring and praying that we may do his will on earth with the utmost fidelity, fervour, and purity of affection, as it is done by these blessed spirits in heaven; and that we may study to sanctify our souls in imitation of the spotless angels to whom we are associated. Lastly, we are invited to honour, and implore the intercession and succour of the holy angels.


There's much more at that link.  And this is "Note 2" from the same page:
This festival has been celebrated in the church with great solemnity ever since the sixth century. It was enacted in the ecclesiastical laws of King Ethelred in England, in the year 1014, “That every Christian who is of age, fast three days on bread and water, and raw herbs, before the feast of St. Michael, and let every man go to confession and to church barefoot.—Let every priest with his people go in procession three days barefoot, and let every one’s commons for three days be prepared without anything of flesh, as if they themselves were to eat it, both in meat and drink, and let all this be distributed to the poor. Let every servant be excused from labour these three days, that he may the better perform his fast, or let him work what he will for himself. These are the three days, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, next before the feast of St. Michael. If any servant break his fast, let him make satisfaction with his hide, (bodily stripes,) let the poor freeman pay thirty pence, the king’s thane a hundred and thirty shillings; and let the money be divided to the poor.” See Sir Henry Spelman’s Councils, vol. i. p. 530, and Johnson’s Collection of the Canons of the Church of England, t. 1, an. 1014. Michaelmas-day is mentioned among the great feasts in the Saxon Chronicle on the year 1011; in the Saxon Menology of the ninth century, published by Mr. Wanley (in Lingue. Aquilon. Thes. l. 2, p. 107,) and in the English Calendar published by Dr. Hicks. (in his Saxon Grammar, p. 102, &c.)


About St. Michael himself, New Advent notes that:
Regarding his rank in the celestial hierarchy opinions vary; St. Basil (Hom. de angelis) and other Greek Fathers, also Salmeron, Bellarmine, etc., place St. Michael over all the angels; they say he is called "archangel" because he is the prince of the other angels; others (cf. P. Bonaventura, op. cit.) believe that he is the prince of the seraphim, the first of the nine angelic orders. But, according to St. Thomas (Summa Ia.113.3) he is the prince of the last and lowest choir, the angels. The Roman Liturgy seems to follow the Greek Fathers; it calls him "Princeps militiae coelestis quem honorificant angelorum cives". The hymn of the Mozarabic Breviary places St. Michael even above the Twenty-four Elders. The Greek Liturgy styles him Archistrategos, "highest general" (cf. Menaea, 8 Nov. and 6 Sept.). 

NA says this about what seems to be a different St. Michael's church:
At Rome the Leonine Sacramentary (sixth century) has the "Natale Basilicae Angeli via Salaria", 30 September; of the five Masses for the feast three mention St. Michael. The Gelasian Sacramentary (seventh century) gives the feast "S. Michaelis Archangeli", and the Gregorian Sacramentary (eighth century), "Dedicatio Basilionis S. Angeli Michaelis", 29 Sept. A manuscript also here adds "via Salaria" (Ebner, "Miss. Rom. Iter Italicum", 127). This church of the Via Salaria was six miles to the north of the city; in the ninth century it was called Basilica Archangeli in Septimo (Armellini, "Chiese di Roma", p. 85). It disappeared a thousand years ago. At Rome also the part of heavenly physician was given to St. Michael. According to an (apocryphal?) legend of the tenth century he appeared over the Moles Hadriani (Castel di S. Angelo), in 950, during the procession which St. Gregory held against the pestilence, putting an end to the plague. Boniface IV (608-15) built on the Moles Hadriani in honour of him, a church, which was styled St. Michaelis inter nubes (in summitate circi)

And the Reverend Stephen Gerth of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York writes this week that:
The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, September 29, commonly called "Michaelmas" (MIK-uhl-mus), dates back to the dedication of a basilica near Rome on the Via Salaria in the fifth century. The basilica is gone, but the festival survived the Protestant Reformation among us Anglicans. Massy Shepherd wrote that this feast was "especially popular in medieval England" (The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary [1950] 251).

Obviously  there is disagreement about which of these Churches of St. Michael is at the heart of the original dedication and feast.

But I will not solve this problem today - so I'll end by simply wishing you a Happy Feast of St. Michael and All Angels!


Here are sound files and/or chant scores for all the mass propers, again from ChristusRex.org:
    Die 29 septembris Ss. Michaelis, Gabrielis et Raphaelis, Archangelorum
Introitus: Ps. 102, 20 Benedicite Dominum (1m13.2s - 858 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 102, 20. V. 1 Benedicite Dominum (not available) score
Alleluia:  Sancte Michael archangele (not available) score
                    vel, ad libitum, Laudate Deum omnes angeli (1m54.7s - 1345 kb) score
Offertorium: Apoc. 8, 3.4 Stetit angelus (2m25.2s - 1703 kb) score
Communio: Dan. 3, 58 Benedicite, omnes angeli (48.1s - 565 kb) score


And these are posts on Chantblog about the propers for this day:


And whatever you do, don't forget to check out Full Homely Divinity's Angel page!


Here's a wonderful icon I don't think I've posted before; it's "the 13th-century icon of St. Michael from Archangel Cathedral in Yaroslavl [Russia]."



Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Compline: A Spiritual Awakening"

Here's a short video about Sunday Compline at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle.  The service "hasn't changed in 57 years."



From the YouTube page:
Every Sunday evening at 9:30 p.m. in the nave of Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral (Seattle, WA), the all-male Compline Choir leads this formal choral service that is a Seattle tradition. An average audience of 500 packs the Cathedral each week for this meditative service. Many more listen to the broadcast on KING-FM, 98.1 on the radio dial.

Thanks to Anglicans Online for the link to the video, and for their story this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New York Polyphony sings Beata progenies (Lionel Power d. 1445)

This video was offered by NYP in its social media feeds this morning:



Here's the Latin text from CPDL; English translation "by The St. Ann Choir, directed by William Mahrt."  The text is described there as a "Matins Responsory, Feasts of the Blessed Virgin."
Beata progenies unde Christus natus est;
quam gloriosa est virgo que caeli regem genuit.

Blessed is the parent from whom Christ was born;
O how glorious is the virgin who brought forth the King of heaven

Cantus database lists this as an antiphon sung at various Marian feasts; the earliest certain date of its provenance listed there is ~1175, in a "Cistercian antiphoner from the Abbey of St. Mary of Morimondo in the diocese of Milan."  The antiphon in that volume was used at Mattins of Nativitas Mariae  (i.e., the Nativity of Mary, September 8).   I so far can't find any image of the antiphon from these manuscripts, but will post it if I do find one.

Wikipedia says about Leonel Power - that's another spelling of his first name - that:  "Leonel Power (1370 to 1385 – 5 June 1445) was an English composer of the late Medieval and early Renaissance eras. Along with John Dunstaple, he was one of the major figures in English music in the early 15th century.[1][2]"

Also that:
While Power's output was slightly less than Dunstaple's (only 40 extant pieces can be definitely attributed to him), his influence was similar. He is the composer best represented in the Old Hall Manuscript, one of the only undamaged sources of English music from the early 15th century (most manuscripts were destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536-1540 under Henry VIII).

Power was one of the first composers to set separate movements of the Ordinary of the Mass which were thematically unified and intended for contiguous performance. The Old Hall Manuscript contains his mass based on the Marian antiphon, Alma Redemptoris Mater, in which the antiphon is stated literally in the tenor in each movement, unornamented. This is the only cyclic setting of the mass Ordinary which can be attributed to him.[4]

The audio was recorded at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York; fantastic acoustics!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Communion Song for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: Per signum crucis ("By the sign of the cross")

Per signum crucis is the Communion song for this day; it's short but quite beautiful:   




TPL says this about the text:
From the Roman Breviary. It recalls Phil. 3:18, "For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. "

PER signum Crucis de inimicis nostris libera nos, Deus noster. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

BY the sign of the cross deliver us from our enemies, O our God. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


I'm not so sure about that Philemon reference, but here's an mp3 of the chant, too, from ChristusRex.org.  Fairly sure it's the same audio file as that in the video above.

And here's the chant score:




That "T.P. alleluia" note stands for Tempus Paschale - i.e., Easter season, because this chant was also used for the Feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross, May 3 (a feast that's no longer on the calendar).  The Alleluia was added for years when Invention occurred within Eastertide.   (This page at Cantus Database lists all occurrences of this text; almost every such occurrence is listed as either "Inventio Crucis" (i.e., The Invention of the Holy Cross) or "Exaltatio Crucis" (this feast, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14).  There is also a third category:  "Suff. Crucis," that is to say, "Memorial chants for the Holy Cross."   That is interesting, and I'll be looking further into it at some point.)

Francesco Durante set this text, expertly rendered here during a live concert at Bari, Italy, by convivium musicum mainz:




My favorite obscure Polish composer, Mikołaj Zieleński, also set this one; it's sung here beautifully by Chór WUM (that's Chóru Warszawskiego Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Warszawie, for short):




More about Zieleński, from Wikipedia:
Mikołaj Zieleński (Zelenscius, birth and death dates unknown) was a Polish composer, organist and Kapellmeister to the primate Baranowski, Archbishop of Gniezno.

Zieleński's only known surviving works are two 1611 liturgical cycles of polychoral works, the Offertoria/Communes totius anni. These were dedicated to the Archbishop of Gniezno, Wojciech Baranowski. The whole comprises eight part-books and a ninth book, the Partitura pro organo, which constitutes the organ accompaniment. This publication contains in all 131 pieces written for various vocal and also vocal and instrumental ensembles, all with organ accompaniment.

The Venetian publication does not only comprise the offertories and communions; we find there also over a dozen other pieces, such as hymns, antiphons, a magnificat, and even three instrumental fantasias. In his compositions Zieleński relies on his own creative invention and does not, in general, make use of the cantus firmi. The few pieces which a pre-existent melody may be traced out are based not on a plainsong melody but on the melodies of Polish songs. The sets consist of large-scale double- and triple-choir antiphons, as well as some monodic works typical of the Seconda pratica style of early Monteverdi. Zieleński's music is the first known Polish music set in the style of the Baroque.

You can also get Free scores by Mikołaj Zieleński from the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki).

Here are all the propers for today, from ChristusRex.org; the singers are the Benedictine monks of Sao Paolo, Brazil:
    Die 14 septembris In Exaltatione Sanctæ Crucis
Introitus: Cf. Gal. 6,14; Ps. 66 Nos autem gloriari (4m37.3s - 4337 kb) score
Graduale: Phil. 2, 8. V. 9 Christus factus est (2m19.3s - 2178 kb) score
Alleluia:  Dulce lignum, dulces clavos (2m27.5s - 2307 kb) score
Offertorium: Protege, Domine (2m09.9s - 2031 kb) score
Communio: Per signum crucis (40.4s - 633 kb) score


According to Divinum Officum, these propers have been used on this day at least since Trent.  The Introit, Nos autem gloriari, has also been used since that era as Maundy Thursday's introit; the Graduale, Christus factus est, was also used at Maundy Thursday in the Tridentine rite.  (Today, however, the Maundy Thursday Gradual is Oculi omnium - and Christus factus est is used as the Gradual for Palm Sunday.)

About  the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, from Wikipedia's "Feast of the Cross" entry:
This feast is called in Greek Ὕψωσις τοῦ Τιμίου καὶ Ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ[1] ("Raising Aloft of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross") and in Latin Exaltatio Sanctae Crucis. In English, it is called The Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the official translation of the Roman Missal, while the 1973 translation called it The Triumph of the Cross. In some parts of the Anglican Communion the feast is called Holy Cross Day, a name also used by Lutherans. The celebration is also sometimes called Feast of the Glorious Cross.[2]
According to legends that spread widely, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross[note 1] placed inside it. Other legends explain that in 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.

The date of the feast marks the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335.[3] This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.

Western practices

Exaltation of the Cross from
the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
(Musée Condé, Chantilly)
In Roman Catholic liturgical observance, red vestments are worn at church services conducted on this day, and if the day falls on a Sunday, its Mass readings[note 2] are used instead of that for the occurring Sunday in Ordinary Time. The lectionary of the Church of England (and other Anglican churches) also stipulates red as the liturgical colour for 'Holy Cross Day'.[4]
Until 1969, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the calendar week after the one in which 14 September falls were designated as one of each year's four sets of Ember days by the Church in the West. Organization of these celebrations is now left to the decision of episcopal conferences in view of local conditions and customs.

September 14 is the titular feast of the Congregation of Holy Cross, The Companions of the Cross and the Episcopal Church's Order of the Holy Cross. This date also marked the beginning of the period of fasting, except on Sundays and ending on Easter Sunday, that was stipulated for Carmelites in the Carmelite Rule of St. Albert of 1247.[5] The Rule of St. Benedict also prescribes this day as the beginning of monastic winter (i.e., the period when there are three nocturns of psalms and readings at Matins) which also ends at Easter.

Eastern Orthodox practice

Orthodox Cross set for special veneration on
the feast of The Universal Exaltation of
the Precious and Life Giving Cross.
In Byzantine liturgical observance, the Universal Exaltation (also called Elevation in Greek Churches) of the Precious and Life-creating Cross commemorates both the finding of the True Cross in 326 and its recovery from the Persians in 628, and is one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the church year. September 14 is always a fast day and the eating of meat, dairy products and fish is prohibited. The Feast of the Exaltation has a one-day Forefeast and an eight-day Afterfeast. The Saturday and Sunday before[note 3] and after[6] September 14 are also commemorated with special Epistle and Gospel readings[note 4] about the Cross at the Divine Liturgy.

On the eve of the feast before small vespers the priest, having prepared a tray with the cross placed on a bed of fresh basil leaves or flowers, covered with an aër (liturgical veil), places it on the table of prothesis; after that service, the priest carries the tray on his head preceded by lighted candles and the deacon censing the cross, processing to the holy table (altar), in the center whereof laying the tray, in the place of the Gospel Book, the latter being set upright at the back of the altar.[7] Those portions of the vespers and matins which in sundry local customs take place before the Icon of the Feast (e.g.,the chanting of the Polyeleos and the Matins Gospel[note 5]) instead take place in front of the Holy Table.[8] The bringing out of the cross and the exaltation ceremony occur at matins.[7]

The cross remains in the center of the temple throughout the afterfeast, and the faithful venerate it whenever they enter or leave the church. Finally, on the leave-taking (apodosis) of the feast, the priest and deacon will cense around the cross, there will be a final veneration of the cross, and then they will solemnly bring the cross back into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors. This same pattern of bringing out the cross, veneration, and returning the cross at the end of the celebration is repeated at a number of the lesser Feasts of the Cross mentioned below.[9]

Full Homely Divinity - soon to garner its 1 millionth visitor, BTW! - has what I believe to be to be a new entry for this day, too.  Here are a couple of excerpts, including some very interesting legends about the wood of the cross:
One of the loveliest of these legends tells how basil plants sprang up from the ground under the Cross where drops of the Savior's blood fell. A related tradition says that Helena was aided in her search for the True Cross by a bed of basil that was growing over the very place where the Cross had been buried. Another tradition says that a sprig of basil which growing out of the wood of the Cross itself. The name of the herb comes from the same root as the Greek word for "king," basileus, thus it is an herb made for a king. In Orthodox churches, the cross that is exalted liturgically on this feast, traditionally rests on a bed of basil during the Liturgy. Basil may be blessed and distributed to the faithful on Holy Cross Day, and it would be appropriate to prepare and eat dishes that include basil, such as pesto, as part of the home celebration of the feast.

Here is a Prayer for the blessing of basil.
Almighty and merciful God: Bless, we beseech thee, this royal herb of basil. As its aroma and taste delight our senses, may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King and the power of his blessed Passion and precious Death to purify and preserve us from evil; so that, planted beneath his Cross, we may flourish to thy glory and spread abroad the fragrance of his sacrifice; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


There are two different traditions about the origins of the wood of the Cross. The more familiar, Western, tradition relates that as Adam lay dying he instructed his son Seth to go the gate of Garden of Eden and to ask the cherubim guarding the entrance for a seed from the Tree of Life. This seed was placed in Adam's mouth after he died and was buried with Adam. The seed germinated and grew into a great tree which gave shelter to creatures of all kinds. In time, the origin of the tree and even the fact that it had grown over the grave of the first human being was forgotten. When the time came for Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem, wood was needed and he directed that this great, sturdy tree be cut down to be used in the construction. This was done. However, the wood from the tree was never suitable for the places it was needed. A board was either too short or too long, no matter how carefully it was measured. At last, the wood was discarded. A few years later, a bridge was being built for one of the approaches to Jerusalem and the discarded wood was incorporated into the project. When the Queen of Sheba came to visit Solomon, it was necessary for her to cross this bridge. As she did, she heard a voice with a message which she reported to her host. She told Solomon that the wood of this bridge would be the means by which a new kingdom and a new order would be established in Jerusalem. Fearing that he would be overthrown and his kingdom taken from him, Solomon had the bridge torn down and the wood thrown into a cistern outside the wall of Jerusalem. There it lay for nearly a thousand years until it was once again put into service in the making of a cross for the execution of a man who claimed to be King of the Jews and became again what it had always been: the Tree of Life.

The Eastern tradition of the origins of the wood of the Cross is much simpler and rests on the interpretation of a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah: "The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious." (Isaiah 60:13) According to this tradition, after Lot fled from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, his uncle Abraham gave him a triple seedling, consisting of a cypress, a plane, and a pine. Lot took the seedling and planted it in the wilderness, where the three trees continued to grow together. Lot, badgered by the devil who wished to prevent the tree from growing, traveled back and forth to the Jordan River to get water for the tree. Many years later, when Solomon was building the Temple (here the legends converge for a brief moment), the tree was cut down and the wood was used in the construction. When Herod was rebuilding the Temple, this wood was taken out and discarded, and was later taken up again to be used for the Cross of Jesus. The first part of the verse from Isaiah refers to the three different woods being used in the building of the Temple. The interpretation of the final phrase, "I will make the place of my feet glorious," is that it is a reference to the footrest to which Jesus' feet were nailed on the Cross. Tradition says that the place where the tree grew was outside of the city of Jerusalem. A monastery has stood on that site since the 5th century. A series of icons, which can be seen on this website, depicts this version of the legend, though it omits the portion of the legend about the Temple.

Here are some Chantblog posts about the propers for this feast day:


Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bogoroditse Devo (Sergey Khvoshchinsky)

Here's a simply stunning Bogoroditse Devo; the choir is "From Age to Age," and they are quite wonderful here.




Bogoroditse Devo is the Eastern version of the Ave Maria; here's the original language with transliteration, plus an English translation:
Church Slavonic text:
Богородице Дево, радуйся,
Благодатная Марие, Господь с Тобою;
Благословена Ты в женах
и благословен плод чрева Твоего,
яко Спаса родила еси душ наших.


Transliteration:
Bogoroditse Devo, raduisya,
Blagodatnaya Mariye, Gospod s Toboyu.
Blagoslovenna Ty v zhenakh,
i blagosloven plod chreva Tvoyego,
yako Spasa rodila esi dush nashikh.


English translation
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos,
Mary full of grace, the Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb,
for Thou hast borne the Savior of our souls.

Here's an article from Minnesota Public Radio about the composer, Sergey Khovoshinsky.

And this is the text on the YouTube page:
Cutting-edge interpretations and superb ensemble singing are trademarks of From Age To Age. Founded by Artistic Director Andrew Miller in January 2007, From Age To Age has quickly made a name for itself in the upper Midwest. The ensemble performed as an auditioned professional ensemble at the 2010 MN ACDA convention, and shortly after was invited to perform as a premier professional ensemble at the 2011 ICDA Summer Symposium. From Age to Age was highlighted as a "Regional Spotlight" group on Minnesota Public Radio in 2010 and will be featured on the Classical Minnesota Public Radio Holiday CD "A Taste of the Holidays", vol. II coming this December. The CD is a joint collaboration with the nationally syndicated radio show "The Splendid Table". The ensemble has collaborated with several high school, honors, collegiate, and semi-professional ensembles including Kantorei, The Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota, The Duluth East Choralaires, Bismark State College Choirs, and the Brainerd High School Chamber Singers.

The members of From Age to Age come from all areas of Minnesota and North Dakota,
brought together with a common passion for performing top quality a cappella music. They strive to share their talents with areas typically under-served in the choral arts. The ensemble makes it part of their mission to regularly perform at nursing and senior centers in the regions that they visit.

About Andrew Miller, Artistic Director
Andrew Miller, founder and artistic director of  From Age to Age, is an accomplished choral conductor, published composer/arranger,  vocalist,and educator. Miller graduated from Brainerd High School in 2001 under the musical direction and inspiration of Dr. Michael Smith. Andrew holds a degree in vocal music education from Bemidji State University, and a masters degree in choral conducting from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Miller taught K-12 vocal music in the Long Prairie/Grey Eagle school district 2007-2008. Andrew has been invited as a guest clinician to the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) student convention in Mankato, MN, 2009, and to the Iowa Choral Directors Association (ICDA) Summer Symposium, July, 2011. Andrew is currently serving as Director of Choral Activities at Bismarck State College where he conducts the BSC Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and Women's Chamber Ensemble, and teaches choral conducting, music theory, aural skills, and music appreciation.

History
From Age To Age was founded at the turn of the new year, January, 2007. Initially, several singers from the former Hannah/Brokering Sacred Ensemble helped form the foundation. Singers from all areas of the state eventually joined the ensemble to create the group as it is today: a chamber ensemble of highly trained vocal artists that come together throughout the year in different areas of the upper Midwest. From Age to Age focuses not only on performance, but also on outreach and educational  programming. The ensemble has expanded its touring area with each successive season.
2010-2011 started with an additional focus on the Twin Cities metro area, and expanded into North Dakota and Iowa..

From Age to Age has an active educational outreach program. The ensemble visits high
schools and colleges across the upper Midwest, conducting focused educational workshops for both students and directors. In 2011, From Age to Age conducted workshops/collaborative performances with students at Bismarck State College (Bismarck, ND), St. Clair High School, and Lanesboro Senior and Junior High School. From Age to Age is currently accepting workshop inquiries for the 2011-2012 season. For more information, please contact info@fromagetoage.org.

HT @andrewford.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Mass of the Assumption: Fontgombault"

In honor of the August 15 Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, here's another very pretty recording from Fontgombault (a  daughter-abbey of Solesmes); this video contains the Introit, Kyrie IX, the Alleluia, and the Communio. 



Here are the words to the Introit, the Alleluia, and the Communio; chant scores in Latin along with English translations:
The Introit, Signum Magnum


A great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. -- Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- A great sign appeared in heaven . . . (From Revelation 12)


The Alleluia, Assumpta est




Alleluia, Alleluia. Mary has been taken up into heaven; the host of Angels rejoices. Alleluia.


The Communio, Beatam me dicent



All generations shall call me blessed, because He that is mighty hath done great things for me. (From The Magnificat, in Luke 1.)


Here's a listing of all the mass chant propers for this feast, from ChristusRex.org; the links go to mp3 files and chant scores.
Die 15 augusti
In Assumptione
B. Mariæ Virginis
Introitus: Apoc. 12, 1; Ps. 97 Signum magnum (cum gloria Patri) (4m11.0s - 1471 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 44, 11.12 V. 5 Audi, filia (3m18.3s - 1163 kb) score
Alleluia: Assumpta est (2m09.7s - 761 kb) score
Offertorium: Assumpta est (1m43.2s - 606 kb)
Communio: Luc. 1, 48.49 Beatam me dicent (47.9s - 281 kb) score

From the YouTube page:
+J.M.J.+ Gregorian Chant for the Mass of the Assumption - Monastic Choir of the Abbey of Notre- Dame de Fontgombault. The Introit, Alleluia, and Holy Communion sung Propers, and Kyrie IX are part of a High Mass of the Assumption. Chanted by the Monastic Choir of the Abbey Notre-Dame de Fontgombault, France. Originally recorded and released in 1973, by Jean Allard. Arranged for CD in 1997 by Jean-Yves Martineau.

To buy the original full version of "Fons Amoris" on DVD go to: http://www.exaltavit.com/documentaire...

To buy the full version music CD, and other Gregorian Chant CDs recorded at the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, visit this website:
http://www.monasterygreetings.com/pro...

Click this link for the Introit, Alleluia, and Holy Communion translations: http://romaaeterna.jp/liber2/grt1_137...
The Kyrie is taken from Mass IX (9), and translates from Greek as: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Friday, August 08, 2014

O Frondens Virga (Hildegard von Bingen 1098-1179)

Chanticleer shared this video on their socmed feeds this past week:



Here are the Latin words of the antiphon:
O frondens virga,
In tua nobilitate stans,
sicut aurora procedit.
Nunc gaude et laetare et nos debiles dignare
a mala consuetudine liberare,
atque manum tuam porrige ad erigendum nos. 

Here's one English translation of this (link is a PDF):
O branch, coming into leaf,
standing in your nobility
just as dawn advances:
now rejoice and be glad
and deem us, helpless ones, worthy;
free us from evil habits
and even reach out your hand
to lift us.

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