Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Medieval Music Database

Another wonderful online music find: The Medieval Music Database.

We're in the Octave of Christmas right now, so here's that page.

Here's the Antiphon for Second Vespers, Gaudeamus, omnes fideles: Salvator noster natus est in mun do hodie processit proles magnifici ger minis, et perseverat pudor virginitatis. (loosely, "Let all faithful people rejoice: Our Savior is born something something...."):





They arrange it according to Sanctoral Cycle as well. Truly an amazing site.

Here's the page for Christmas Day; it goes on and on. I did go to Christmas Vespers this year, and was surprised to find that the Antiphon upon Magnificat was Hodie, Christus natus est, the very same tune used by Benjamin Britten in "Ceremony of Carols." That makes about the 300th time I didn't realize a well-known song was originally part of the chant....

Saturday, December 23, 2006

O Virgo Virginum

December 23:

O Virgin of Virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? That which ye behold is a divine mystery.





This is another very beautiful antiphon, and the last for this year. I don't have the music for it, but it will be sung by Anglicans tomorrow at Vespers, and right after that begins the Vigil of Christmas. As explained at this site,

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are:

Sapientia
Adonai
Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Oriens
Rex Gentium
Emmanuel


Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, December 22, 2006

O Emmanuel

December 22:

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, Desire of all nations and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God.





Audio here.

I'd found another version of this last year, too, at Liturgica.com. Here it is, from this page.

And here, again, is the "O Antiphon" page at Full Homely Divinity; we are now definitely in the last days of Advent. Nonetheless, perhaps there will still be some interest in an article about The Hymns of Advent, or in one about the Advent Saints.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Rex Gentium

December 21:

O King of Nations, and their Desire; the Cornerstone, who makest both one: Come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay.




Here's an audio file.

Last year, I found another version of this antiphon, sung in English: here. It's from the CD St. Johns Choir - Gregorian Chant: The Office of Compline, sung by the Choir of St. John the Evangelist in Ottawa.

Here's an English version in modern language that's sung at Anglican Vespers:





(Ooops, except that it isn't really sung at all, because December 21 is the feast day of St. Thomas. But it could be sung at Anglican Vespers....)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

O Oriens

December 20:

O Day-Spring, Brightness of the Light everlasting, and Sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.





Still my favorite clip: this beautiful version from Boston Camerata. But here's another.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

O Clavis David

December 19:

O Key of David, Scepter of the house of Israel; that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth: come, and bring forth from the prisionhouse the captive, who sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.




Audio file here, here, or here, along with Magnificat.

Monday, December 18, 2006

O Radix Jesse

December 18:

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom kings shall stop their mouths, whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.






Listen to it here, as a true antiphon on each side of the Magnificat. Or here, from Fisheaters.com, who cite the following passages as sources:

Isaias 11:1: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

Isaias 11:10: In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

Micheas 5:1: Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.
.

Here's another, from a different site that cites different sources: Isaiah 11:10, Romans 15:12, and Revelation 5:5.

To answer Derek's earlier question: the music comes from the Dominicans.

BTW, Musica Sacra is also posting the Great O's.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

O Adonai

December 17:

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearedst in the Bush of Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the law in Sinai: Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.





More from "Sapientia-tide: The Great O Antiphons."
A curious entry appears in the December liturgical calendar of English Books of Common Prayer. The year 1561 brought an influx of minor saints from the Roman cycle back into the calendar of the Elizabethan Book of Common Prayer by way of the Latin Book of Common Prayer used in college chapels—places where Latin was expected to be “a tongue understanded of the people.” But among this number came an entry that was not the name of a saint or martyr. December 16th bears the legend: O Sapienta—O Wisdom. Formally ratified by its inclusion in the calendar of the 1662 Prayer Book—still the official prayer-book of the Church of England and often considered the liturgical norm for the Anglican Communion—this entry holds an indisputable place in our history grounding the “O” Antiphons in the Anglican tradition although they have never yet appeared in an authorized prayer book. The Roman Catholic Church has retained these antiphons as well, but their course begins on December 17th—meaning that the Anglican tradition retains an antiphon no longer used by Rome. Ironically, the missing antiphon is the one addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Here's one version, and here's another.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

O Sapientia

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.



Starting tonight, Anglican monastics, and others, will sing the Great O Antiphons as the Antiphons upon the Magnificat at Vespers, for a period of eight days.

Roman Catholics start one day later, because they use only 7 of the Antiphons; ironically, the one the Romans don't use - and Anglicans do - is a Marian antiphon, the last one on the Anglican calendar, "O Virgo Virginum," sung on December 23rd. OVV is Sarum in origin; more about that here, from which the following is an excerpt:
The Advent Antiphons in preparation for Christmas, based on Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah under various titles and figures, are found in eleventh century manuscripts. But they must be of much earlier origin; for Amalarius, a French liturgical scholar of the first half of the ninth century, added an eighth to the older seven. This, O Virgo virginum, is not on parallel lines with the others, nor is it found in the Roman Breviary, but it had place in the Sarum.

The O's are not found at all in the Ambrosian Breviary, which has an Advent of six weeks, the last Sunday being a commemoration of the Annunciation.

The Parisian Breviary (1735), of which a marked characteristic is the use of Holy Scripture in antiphons and responds, adds two to the original seven Advent Antiphons, of like nature with them, O Sancte Sanctorum, and O Pastor Israel. Thus provision is made for a complete Novena, from December 15 to 23, before Christmas Eve.

The Roman Breviary does not begin the Antiphons till December 17, but December 16 is the English date (marked in the Prayer Book Kalendar as O Sapientia), either St. Thomas's Day being otherwise provided for, or O Virgo virginum being added as an eighth.

The Antiphons were sung at Vespers before and after the Magnificat.


Here's a really excellent new piece that includes Biblical sources and mp3s of each. Here's a good article that includes a score of the music; here's another.

There are some new audio files, too. Here's one sung by a guy with a really soft, warm baritone (or maybe bass) voice. There is also a version at the link above, and another one here, sung along with the Magnificat.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Requiem Aeternum

For All Souls' Day, Die 2 novembris: In Commemoratione Omnium Fidelium Defunctorum, from the Benedictines of Brazil:





It's easy to hear the opening motifs and melodies from the Duruflé Requiem in this chant; this is where it all came from, originally: the Mass for the Dead.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Universi, qui te exspectant (or, It's never too early for Advent)

As we approach November, I thought it would be good to link to the chanted propers of the Mass for Advent 1, as sung by the Benedictine monks of Brazil (see previous post).

To me, the Graduale in particular ("Universi, qui te exspectant") is stunningly beautiful - full of gorgeous melismatic musical lines and lovely lilting phrases. Very evocative of the Advent hope and expectant waiting. [Edited to add that I'm now in the process of listening to the others, and the Alleluia, Ostende Nobis is another simply glorious chant for the day; it comes from Psalm 85, I think.] I'm curious as to whether chants like this were ever used in parish settings, or whether they were exclusively monastic. It's amazing how little anybody knows about this anymore, and what a shame that is, because the music is just so beautiful.

Here's a video of this chant:




Something I find interesting, BTW, is that the text for this chant - and for others for the day - comes from Psalm 25. I checked out the BCP, which doesn't use this Psalm in any of year A, B, or C for Advent 1 - but the RCL does use it, at least this year. But I had understood that the RCL is the "Protestant" lectionary, and that the BCP was normally closer to what the Catholic Church uses. So how come this, then?

One other thing maybe somebody can help me with. Notice that on the website, Psalm 25 is labeled "Psalm 24." I've noticed this before - that the Catholics numbering system is 1 different from ours, but never thought much about it. What's the deal with that? [EDIT: Caelius notes that "The numbering difference is because Psalm 9 and 10 are one psalm in the LXX, but are apparently separate in the Hebrew manuscripts. There's probably a story there, especially since the two psalms form an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew, just not a perfect one, suggesting a few errors in transmission."]

Psalm 25
1 Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.

2 O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

4 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.

5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

7 Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O LORD.

Here are all the chants for this day, from ChristusRex.org:
Hebdomada Prima Adventus
Dominica
Introitus: Ps. 24, 1-4 Ad te levavi (3m29.7s - 3275 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 24, 3. V. 4 Universi, qui te exspectant (2m00.6s - 1887 kb) score
Alleluia: Ps. 84, 8 Ostende nobis (2m41.5s - 2525 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 24, 1-3 Ad te, Domine, levavi (1m41.0s - 1579 kb) score
Communio: Ps. 84, 13 Dominus dabit benignitatem (51.2s - 801 kb) score

And these are posts on Chantblog for the Advent 1 propers:

If you're interested in the Introits for every Sunday in Advent, see them here:




Another good post at St. Cecilia

Take a look at this entry from July 13 of this year. Here's the content:
Here is the communion chant for this weekend, the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. This chant, which mimics the sound of a turtle dove, is surely one of the most spectacular in the Gregorian repertoire.


There's a .gif of the chant score at the link above, and here's an mp3 of the chant, at the Brazilian Benedictines site.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Some music links

Here's a really wonderful site: the Saint Cecilia Schola Cantorum of St. Michaels Catholic Church in Auburn, Alabama. It seems to be sort of a blog, with tons of great links to articles about chant and other kinds of sacred music.

For instance, the most recent (September 26) entry is this:
Singers are very fortunate the Orlando Di Lasso took time out to write 25 or so duets designed for training singers in sight reading and technique. They are also very beautiful, and even useful for liturgical purposes. Their texts are all liturgical. They assist in helping singers master the ability to blend, navigate a wide range, be precise in rhythm, and develop interpretive capacity.

The site that offered 7 of them is difficult to navigate, so the St. Cecilia Schola is pleased to make this packet available for download.


Isn't that great?

And here's something else, found linked on the above website: a page titled All Masses of the Liturgical Year. Each linked page contains two links for each of the propers for each week of the year - one to an audio file and one to an image file. So, for instance, you can go to this page, labeled the "Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time," amd there are links to mp3 audio files and .gif images scores (in Gregorian notation) of the Introit, the Gradual, the Alleluia, the Offertory, and the Communion anthem for the day - plus the scriptural source for each. All in Latin, BTW. So you can read along with the score while you listen to the music.

A warning: the mp3s aren't always of the first quality. The pieces are, they say, sung by "Saint Benedict's Monks" in Brazil, and there's lots of background noise (papers rustling, coughing, etc.). Still, the music is quite beautiful, and it's a treat to be able to follow along with the score. A good way to learn to read the music, too.

The Ordinary of the Mass can be found here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Psalm Tones: Tonus Peregrinus

Below is an image of the Tonus Peregrinus in the old square-note notation.     (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.)  

Here's an image of the Tonus Peregrinus in modern notation from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page (they call it "Tone 9," actually).  The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," used for the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.)   




Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 114 sung to the Tonus Peregrinus, again taken from the LLBP Psalmody page.     The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord, the God of Jacob") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation on the mp3 is the King James Version:
Antiphon:  Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord, the God of Jacob

1 When Israel went out of Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;

2 Judah was his sanctuary,
and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea saw it, and fled:
Jordan was driven back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams,
and the little hills like lambs.

5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest?
thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

6 ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams;
and ye little hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob;

8 which turned the rock into a standing water,
the flint into a fountain of waters.

Antiphon:  Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord, the God of Jacob

(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for the TP, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict.    These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:


)


Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.


At Sunday Vespers, Psalm 114 is sung using this tone; it's the only time I've ever heard it used in the Divine Office. The name, of course, means "Wandering Tone" (literally, "Pilgrim Tone"), and it's fitting to use it to sing Psalm 114, since it describes Israel's flight from Egypt. (At the Vespers I attend, Psalm 115 - "Non nobis, Domine" - is tacked on to 114.) This is also the only tone in which the intonation is sung at every Psalm verse. The tune is very old, according to this page that seems to have something to do with Boston Camerata:
The synagogue gave to the Early Christian church some of its ancient melodies; the recitation formula of the psalm B'tset Yisrael ("When Israel went forth out of Egypt"), for example, survives in the Gregorian chant repertoire as the tonus peregrinus. It is thanks to a Christian that we have the oldest surviving example of written-down Jewish music, the beautiful Eulogy of Moses.


Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

Psalm Tones: Tone 8

Below is an image of Tone 8 in the old square-note notation; the main melody is labeled "VIII"), and it's followed by three different possible endings, labeled "G," G*," and "c."      (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.)




Here's an image of Tone 8 in modern notation, without endings, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.   The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.)  Don't worry too much about endings now, either; you can easily pick that stuff up as you go.  (The singers in the mp3 below are using ending G shown above, which is the same as the one ending shown below in the modern notation.)


(The notes of the chant melody pictured here - it's Lutheran-style - are slightly different, in a couple of places, from what's on the audio file linked below.  There are regional and other variations in Psalm-singing.)

Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 93 sung to Tone 8 by the St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, Compline Choir.       The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "Mighty is the Lord who dwells on high") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation on the audio file is from the 1979 U.S. Book of Common Prayer:
Antiphon:  Mighty is the Lord who dwells on high

1 The LORD is King;
he has put on splendid apparel; *
the LORD has put on his apparel
and girded himself with strength.

2 He has made the whole world so sure *
that it cannot be moved;

3 Ever since the world began, your throne has been established; *
you are from everlasting.

4 The waters have lifted up, O LORD,
the waters have lifted up their voice; *
the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

5 Mightier than the sound of many waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea, *
mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

6 Your testimonies are very sure, *
and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,
for ever and for evermore.

Antiphon:  Mighty is the Lord who dwells on high


(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 8, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict;  you can see its three endings here, too - along with an alternate for the chant itself.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:

)



Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.



Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Psalm Tones: Tone 7

Below is an image of Tone 7 in the old square-note notation; the main melody is labeled "VII," and there are five different possible endings that can be used (labeled "a," "b," "c," "c2," and "d").      (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.)


Here's an image of Tone 7 in modern notation, without endings, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.   The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.)  Don't worry too much about endings now, either; you can easily pick that stuff up as you go.


The incipit is not used in the mp3 sample below; that's because the first line of the Psalm is very short, and the incipit is not needed.  So the singing begins with the large note at the start of the second measure.


Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 8 sung to Tone 7 (they're using ending "b" above) by the St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, Compline Choir.      The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "How exalted is your name O Lord in all the world") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation on the audio file is from the 1979 U.S. Book of Common Prayer:

Antiphon:  How exalted is your name O Lord in all the world

1 O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!

2 Out of the mouths of infants and children *
your majesty is praised above the heavens.

3 You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
to quell the enemy and the avenger.

4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,

5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?

6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;

7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:

8 All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,

9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.

10 O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is you Name in all the world!

Antiphon:  How exalted is your name O Lord in all the world


(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 7, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict;  you can see its five endings here, too.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:

)

Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.


Here are some links that might be interesting to you:
  • Many topics of interest here, at the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood website: PDFs on "Psalm Tone Distribution Table—Only know one or two Psalm tones? Find the Psalms that use the tones you know by using this index"; "Seasonal Psalm Tones—These tones may be used when the Brotherhood Prayer Book does not specify any tone, such as for responsories and canticles in the Seasonal Propers, Saint’s Day Propers, and Common of Saints."; etc. And there's an interesting page full of "questions and comments" here.
  • Liturgica.com (where on this page you'll hear "The Kontakion of the Annunciation from Cycles of Grace," and of course don't forget to click around to listen to the many chant clips all over the site), a "new content" article titled The Return of Chant: Rediscovering the Church’s Musical Tradition. That one's about the Catholic Church, and the writers have also put up
  • Another page titled Sacred Music and Its Time: Articles on Liturgy, Chant, and polyphony. Lots of PDFs and text files there, too, again from the Catholic perspective.


Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Psalm Tones: Tone 6

Below is an image of Tone 6 in the old square-note notation; there's an alternate melody shown here as well.      (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.)



Here's an image of Tone 6 - just the first melody above - in modern notation, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.   The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.) 



(Notice that the melody in this score - it's Lutheran-style  - is just slightly different than what's pictured in the images above.   There are regional and other variations in Psalm-singing.)

Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 112 sung to Tone 6 from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody page.      The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "The generation of the upright shall be blessed") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation is the King James Version:
Antiphon:  The generation of the upright shall be blessed

1 Praise ye the LORD.
Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD,
that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth:
the generation of the upright shall be blessed.

3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house:
and his righteousness endureth for ever.

4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness:
he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

5 A good man showeth favor, and lendeth:
he will guide his affairs with discretion.

6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever:
the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings:
his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.

8 His heart is established, he shall not be afraid,
until he see his desire upon his enemies.

9 He hath dispersed,
he hath given to the poor;
his righteousness endureth for ever;
his horn shall be exalted with honor.

10 The wicked shall see it, and be grieved;
he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away:
the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Antiphon:  The generation of the upright shall be blessed

(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 6, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict;  you can the alternate melody here, too.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:


)



Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.
In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.



Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

Psalm Tones: Tone 5

Below is an image of Tone 5 in the old square-note notation   (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.) . 


Here's an image of Tone 5 in modern notation, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.     The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.   (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.) 

(The notes of the chant melody pictured here - it's Lutheran-style - are slightly different from what's on the audio file linked below.  There are regional and other variations in Psalm-singing.)

Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 142 sung to Tone 5 by the St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, Compline Choir.      The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "You are my refuge O Lord, my portion in the land of the living") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation is from the 1979 U.S. Book of Common Prayer:
Antiphon:  You are my refuge O Lord, my portion in the land of the living

1 I cry to the LORD with my voice; *
to the LORD I make loud supplication.

2 I pour out my complaint before him *
and tell him all my trouble.

3 When my spirit languishes within me, you know my path; *
in the way wherein I walk they have hidden a trap for me.

4 I look to my right hand and find no one who knows me; *
I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for me.

5 I cry out to you, O LORD; *
I say, "You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living."

6 Listen to my cry for help, for I have been brought very low; *
save me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.

7 Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your Name; *
when you have dealt bountifully with me,
the righteous will gather around me.

Antiphon:  You are my refuge O Lord, my portion in the land of the living

(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 5, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:

)



Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.


Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

Psalm Tones: Tone 4

Below are images of Tone 4 in the old square-note notation; notice that there is a main melody (labeled "IV"), with two possible endings (labeled "g" and "E"), and also an alternate melody (labeled "IV alt" - although as far as I can see it's actually just the same melody as "IV", displayed on a different line of the score), with four possible endings (labeled "c," "A," "A*," and "d").    (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.)

Here's an image of Tone 4, without endings and in modern notation, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.      The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.)  Don't worry too much about endings now, either; you can easily pick that stuff up as you go.



(Keep in mind that this is Lutheran style Psalm-singing; the melodies are slightly different from those pictured in the images above.)

Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of Psalm 113 sung to Tone 4 (he's using ending "A" above) from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody page.   The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation is the King James Version:
Antiphon:  Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore

1 Praise ye the LORD.
Praise, O ye servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.

2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
from this time forth and for evermore.

3 From the rising of the sun
unto the going down of the same
the LORD's name is to be praised.

4 The LORD is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like unto the LORD our God,
who dwelleth on high,

6 who humbleth himself to behold
the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,
and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

8 that he may set him with princes,
even with the princes of his people.

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house,
and to be a joyful mother of children.
Praise ye the LORD.

Antiphon:  Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore

(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 4, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict;  you can see its two possible melodic interpretations, and its total of five possible endings, here as well.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:



)


Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.

Gregorian melodies are written on a staff of four lines and three spaces (as opposed to modern music, which is written on a staff of five lines and four spaces). The notes indicated on the lines or in the spaces of the staff represent those of the sol-fa system (the usual do re mi deal). The sol-fa scale consists of eight notes comprising an octave; each of the eight notes is one whole tone from the one before it, except for fa and do, which are only a half-tone higher than mi and ti respectively. This is the regular major "doe-a-deer" scale; nothing complicated about it, really.

The notation uses one of two clefs to designate either do or fa on the staff. These are moveable and not fixed as they are in modern notation: the do clef may appear on the second, third, or fourth line from the bottom (but is usually found on the third or fourth); the fa clef may appear on the third or fourth line (but most often on the third):





The choice and position of clef are determined by the range of the melody. A particular clef is chosen and located so that the melody will fit conveniently within the lines of the staff. It all sounds very complicated, but really it's done simply for convenience. One more interesting point: there are no sharps in Gregorian Chant, and only one note - ti - may be flatted. When it is, it's called te instead.

Below are some staffs that show the various positions of the clefs and their influence on the notes:







Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:


Psalm Tones: Tone 3

Below is an image of Tone 3 in the old square-note notation; the main melody is labeled "III," and there are five possible endings (labeled "b," "a," "a2," "g," and "g2") to the main melody of the chant.     (Keep in mind that chant notation can be difficult to read if you're not used to it - but picking up the Psalm Tone melodies by ear is actually quite easy.  That's the way I learned, and I recommend it highly.  You'll find an audio file (mp3) of the chant further down the page - and there are links to all the Tones at the bottom of this post.) 



Here's an image of Tone 3, without endings and in modern notation, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood Psalmody Page.    The stuff in the parenthesis is the "flex," sung in the first half of the Psalm for a particularly long verse; it's rarely used, so you can safely ignore it for now.  Remember, too, that the "incipit" - the notes in the very first measure - are only used once, when singing the first verse; for all subsequent verses, skip directly to the "reciting tone," which is the first note of the second measure, used until you get to the end of the line.  (The "reciting tone" is the repetitive note in the chant; it's indicated on the score by the dark, heavy doubled note.)  Don't worry too much about endings now, either; you can easily pick that stuff up as you go.


(The notes of the chant melody pictured here - it's Lutheran-style - are slightly different from what's on the audio file linked below.  There are regional and other variations in Psalm-singing.)


Follow along with either notation, while listening to an mp3 of the first 17 verses of Psalm 139 sung to Tone 3 (they are using ending "a" here) by the St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, Compline Choir.    The mp3 includes an antiphon (text:  "The night shall be as clear as the day; Alleluia") sung before and after the Psalm; don't be confused by the antiphon's melody, which is completely different from that of the Psalm Tone.   Remember:  it's quite easy to pick up these melodies by ear, so don't be discouraged!  Just keep listening and singing.

The translation is from the 1979 U.S. Book of Common Prayer:
Antiphon:  The night shall be as clear as the day; Alleluia

1 LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

2 You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.

3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

4 You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.

5 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

6 Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?

7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

8 If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

9 Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.

10 If I say, "Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,"

11 Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.

12 For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

13 I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.

14 My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.

15 Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.

16 How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!

17 If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

Antiphon:  The night shall be as clear as the day; Alleluia


(Here's an even older look at the square-note notation for Tone 3, courtesy of the Order of St. Benedict;  you can see its five possible endings here, too.  These charts are quite a bit more confusing, though, I think - so look at it later, after you've gotten more of the hang of the thing by singing:




Here is a good, one-page tutorial on chant notation. On the left is the old Gregorian style; on the right is modern musical notation.

In my opinion, one of the most important things to know - and one of the only things you can't figure out on your own without hearing the music - is the "podatus." Here it is, first in Gregorian notation:



As the tutorial says: "When one note is written above another note like this, the bottom note is sung first, and then the note above it." Here's the modern notation:




That one is used over and over again, and many other neume-types are created from it.


I learned to Psalm-sing at a local convent - and I was actually learning chant the way people did, probably, in the monastic communities of the Middle Ages.  That is, by listening to it and then simply beginning to sing.   I can easily now pick up one of these tones and sing the various endings; it's all much easier than you'd think when you're starting out!  Again:  it's much easier to simply start singing than it is to read drawn-out descriptions of how to sing!  Sing along with the mp3, and you'll start getting it very quickly.


Here are Chantblog pages for all the Psalm Tones, with sound files included at each entry:

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