Saturday, November 10, 2007

An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part IV

[EDIT:   This article is from 2007, and was part of my first foray into posting about music for the Offices.  But I've posted quite a bit about Office hymns and other music since then.  You can find posts about the Offices themselves at the Divine Office page, or on the Resources page (where there are many links to other chant hymnody resources).]

But now here's the real deal: the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood's page of Weekday Propers Sung, which provides mp3s of the Responsory, Hymn, Versicle, and Canticle for Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, and Vespers for each day of the week.

I have to say: this is a really excellent thing! The names of the hymns are not given on the LLPB page, but they match up pretty well, from what I can tell so far, with the schedule at Thesaurus Precum Latinarum - and the cantor is often using the English translation found on the individual hymn pages there. Many of the tunes are indeed correct, although there seems to be some repetition; the tune for the Lauds hymn on weekdays is the same from Monday through Thursday - and it's the one I'm familiar with for Saturday. (Coincidentally, it's the one I usually sing during the week myself, because I know it better than most others.).

But the Vespers hymn tunes do seem to be different for every day, and they do indeed match up with the Roman schedule. For one example, here's the music for the Vespers hymn for Sunday, Lucis Creator optime (O blest Creator of the light). Here are the words at TPL; the cantor is using word-for-word the English translation by J. M. Neale. Here's the blurb on that page about this hymn:
Attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604), this hymn is used in the Roman Breviary at Vespers for Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost. In the Liturgia Horarum it is used for Sunday evening Vespers for Ordinary time for the first and third weeks of the Psalter.

Monday's Vespers hymn is Immense caeli Conditor (O great Creator of the Sky); here are the words, not exact this time. Here's the description:
Attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604). The theme of this traditional hymn for the second day of the week is fittingly the second day of creation on which the firmament was created (Gen 1, 6-8). The hymn is traditionally sung at Monday Vespers and is used in the Liturgia Horarum at Vespers for Mondays of the first and third weeks of the Psalter during Ordinary Time. Likewise the hymn is also found in the Roman Breviary for Monday Vespers.

And Wow! I just realized - even before having pasted in the quote above - that the Vespers hymns recapitulate the seven days of Creation! Here are their titles, from Sunday to Saturday:
Lucis Creator optime ( O blest Creator of the light)
Immense caeli Conditor (O great Creator of the Sky)
Telluris ingens Conditor (Earth's Mighty Maker)
Caeli Deus sanctissime (O God, Whose Hand Hath Spread the Sky)
Magnae Deus potentiae (O Sovereign Lord of Nature's Might)
Plasmator hominis, Deus (Maker of Man)
Deus creator omnium (God That All Things Didst Create)

I'm really quite astounded that I've never noticed this before, in fact. But of course, I don't go to Vespers that often, being a working stiff and all, and I've never heard some of these hymns.

Anyway, I think the TPL and the LLPB (not to mention Polish Wikipedia and the St. David's Episcopal Church, Austin, Compline Choir) have really covered the bases for a beginning on this topic. (FYI: the LLPB notes that: "These free high-quality MP3 recordings may take a few minutes to download, or you may contact us for the purchase of a CD." Contact info is available at the page linked above; no, I'm not affiliated with them.)

Next job will be to put these tunes I already have in order and in a simple listing, with links to a page containing both music and lyrics. And to see what variations there might be out there, too, and add those. But of course, this is not the end, in any way, shape, or form; some of the most wonderful tunes are the ones for feasts and the High Holy Days, and sound files for those will be thin on the ground. Maybe I'll make them myself!

Move on to An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part V (with mp3s). Or go back to An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part III (no mp3s).


June Butler said...

This is totally off topic, but I have a blog, and I am planning to do posts on the O Antiphons in December. I notice that in your section on the antiphons, you have brief parts of the score pictured with each antiphon.

I'm looking to illustrate my posts, but I'm having no luck finding anything. May those scores be copied for use on my blog? I understand if I'm not allowed.

bls said...

Of course, feel free. They are not under copyright; they're around 1200 years old! Just right-click on the images and Choose "Save Image As...." when the menu comes up, and save them to your own computer. Then, upload away.

I found them at the website of the Dominicans originally, but they are all over the web these days. You can also find them starting on page 340 in the Liber Usualis, which you can download here. (It's a huge file, though - 115 MB - and might take a long while to download.)

A blessed Advent to you.

June Butler said...

BLS, thank you. I don't suppose you're old enough to own the copyright. One never knows about copyrights, and the law is pretty vague, so I always ask if I can.

I like your blog, but some of it is beyond me. We enjoy some of the same music: Bach, jazz, chant, Piaf, and opera.

I may use a link to send my readers to listen to the sung Antiphons here.

A blessed Advent to you.


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