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
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.


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