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:

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium

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 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, 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.


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