Friday, July 25, 2008

July 25, James bar-Zebedee

Here I'll provide a short post about hymns for Apostles and Evangelists (the full listing for Apostles and Evangelists is here); if you'd like to read the whole longer initial entry, see the post from June 11, the Feast of St. Barnabbas.

Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books lists a variety of hymns to be sung on the feast days of Apostles and Evangelists, and the LLPB provides two mp3s that match up with Hymn Melodies for the whole year. First, the hymn listed for Lauds and Evening Prayer (using two different tunes): "Let the Round World With Songs Rejoice" (mp3), which in Latin is Exultet caelum laudibus. Here is the chant score for this melody, the one listed for Evensong:

Second, "The Eternal Gifts of Christ the King" (mp3); in Latin, this is Aeterna Christi Munera. I've linked to the St. David's Compline Choir version of this before; here it is again. Here's the chant score:

Here is the version from my sources, which is unlike any of the above; still haven't found out much about it.

From Mission St. Clare, on James:
James the son of Zebedee (see People, right) and his brother John were among the twelve disciples of Our Lord. They, together with Peter, were privileged to behold the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1 = Mark 9:2 = Luke 9:28), to witness the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29) and the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37 = Luke 8:51), and to be called aside to watch and pray with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before His death (Matthew 26:37 = Mark 14:33).

James and John were apparently from a higher social level than the average fisherman. Their father could afford hired servants (Mark 1:20), and John (assuming him to be identical with the "beloved disciple") had connections with the high priest (John 18:15). Jesus nicknamed the two brothers "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17), perhaps meaning that they were headstrong, hot-tempered, and impulsive; and so they seem to be in two incidents reported in the Gospels. On one occasion (Luke 9:54ff), Jesus and the disciples were refused the hospitality of a Samaritan village, and James and John proposed to call down fire from heaven on the offenders. On another occasion (Matthew 20:20-23 = Mark 10:35-41), they asked Jesus for a special place of honor in the Kingdom, and were told that the place of honor is the place of suffering.

Finally, about AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12), James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus--Matthew 2), nephew of Herod Antipas (who killed John the Baptist--Mark 6--and examined Jesus on Good Friday--Luke 23), and father of Herod Agrippa II (who heard the defence of Paul before Festus--Acts 25). James was the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one of the Twelve whose death is recorded in the New Testament.

James is often called James Major (= greater or elder) to distinguish him from other New Testament persons called James. Tradition has it that he made a missionary journey to Spain, and that after his death his body was taken to Spain and buried there at Santiago de Compostela (a town the name of which is commonly thought to be derived from the word "apostle", although a Spanish-speaking listmember reports having heard it derived from "field of stars", which in Latin would be campus stellarum). His supposed burial place there was a major site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, and the Spaniards fighting to drive their Moorish conquerors out of Spain took "Santiago de Compostela!" as one of their chief war-cries. (The Spanish form of "James" is "Diego" or "Iago." In most languages, "James" and "Jacob" are identical. Where an English Bible has "James," a Greek Bible has IAKWBOS.)

And since this is the St. James - St. James of Compostella, that is - I'll add here a link to a CD of songs in his honor, by the French ensemble Discantus; these songs have been taken from the Codex Calixtinus, the medieval manuscript in which is found a great deal about that pilgrimage, and were, as I understand it, the songs sung by the pilgrims themselves. My favorite on that CD is #10, "Alleluia, Iacobe Sanctissime" - "Iocobe" being, as Mission St. Clare notes, the Latin for "James." The words are these, from Psalm 4, in Latin on the left and (approximately) in English on the right:
Alleluia, Iacobe sanctissime,
Alleluia, pro nobis intercede,
Alleluia, Alleluia.

Cum invocarem exaudivit me
Deus iustitie meae:
In tribulatione dilastati mini.

Miserere mei,
Et exaudi orationem meam.
Alleluia, O most Holy Saint James,
Alleluia, intercede for us,
Alleluia, Alleluia.

I called on the Lord of my justice
And He answered me.
You helped me when I was in trouble.

Have mercy on me,
And hear my prayer.

Listen to the clip of this song here:

Alleluia, Iacobe Sanctissime [Antienne] - Compostelle

Or go Écouter to all the samples at French Amazon, if you like! It's really pretty stuff, and I wish I could post it here directly.

There are some images of St. James the Greater at Textweek; how about this one, for instance, about which it says:
Originally from the Scuola del Cristo at the Giudecca, the polyptych is composed of five panels, the central one of which is of St James the Greater with St John the Evangelist and St Filippo Benizzi (one of the saints of the Order of Servites) on the left, and St. Michael the Archangel and St. Louis of Toulouse on the right. The figures of the saints are set in a slow, semicircular rhythm against the tooled gold of the background and the actual paint seems to be translucent like porcelain. The extremely refined figures suggest obvious affinities with the world of Pisanello, particularly the figure of the Archangel Michael in his heavy armour decorated with gold, his pale face encircled with a crown of curls, his body poised almost as if to execute a dance-step over that of the dragon which lies like a heraldic image at the bottom of the panel.

Now there's a group that doesn't get much airtime! Here's the polyptych:

Polyptychs of James were apparently the thing, for some reason! Here's another:

But I like this one best, from Georges de La Tour (and hanging - of course! - in the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec):

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Not chant, but....

May I point you, anyway, dear reader, to the truly amazing music offerings at the Trinity Wall Street website?

First, allow me to announce that the organ festival there this summer features female organists from all over the world and is called, most unfortunately, "Pedals and Pumps: A Festival of Organ Divas" - a name that is, I'm sorry to say, quite a bit too precious for me. The concerts, though, are just terrific! Listen to these two Italian women, Federica Iannella and Giuliana Maccaroni, for instance, who mess around splendidly doing all sorts of things with the keyboards there (and with some other instruments, too, from what I could tell as I was working and listening this afternoon).
This week, Federica Iannella and Giuliana Maccaroni, Italian concert organists and recording artists, who will use both chancel and gallery consoles during their concert, perform four-hand works by Morandi and Rossini.

Their charming accents as they introduce the pieces are alone well worth the price of admission ($0.00!), believe me. But you get the music, too.

Then there's Barbara Dennerlein from Germany, who actually does indeed play Fats Waller (among other things) on the Trinity Wall Street electronic organ:
Barbara Dennerlein, Germany's most famous jazz recording star and concert organist, improvises her own works using both classical and modern jazz idioms. She will use theatrical registers programmed by Cameron Carpenter for the virtual pipe organ.

And Jane Watts from England ain't half-bad, either. Well, go listen to them all! There's another organ concert, live, today at 1 p.m. EDT, too.

And don't forget, while you're there, to have a listen to the other "Concerts at One"! Right now I'm listening to and watching Vassily Primakov play Beethoven on piano. Wow.

But mainly, you simply must go take in the the Trinity Choir and Rebel Baroque Orchestra perform Grands Motets!
The Trinity Choir and soloists from the choir with Rebel Baroque Orchestra perform French masterpieces of Lully, de Lalande, Charpentier, Desmarest, Rameau, and de Mondonville. Conducted by Simon Carrington.

It really is astounding that Trinity is simply giving this stuff away. These are some of the best musicians in the world, and some of the most sublime music ever written. (And right in the middle of listening to the Grands Motets the other day, up popped Charpentier's wonderful Gloria Patri, from I'm still not sure what. Here's an mp3 of the version I'd once found just tooling around the web one night and really liked.) The Grands Motets are so rich and and so thick with sound and so expressive with emotion; this (along with the Petits Motets) is some of the most wonderful choral music I've ever heard.

Really, take advantage of the generosity of the Trinity Wall Street music ministry; you can go to a concert every single day, if you want to. Hard to believe, but true.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 22, The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Although I thought I had a hymn dedicated especially to Mary Magdalene, I can't seem to find it just now; I'll post it when I finally do come across it again. Meantime, below is the chant score for a hymn for "Holy Women", which is sung at both Vespers; the tune is the same one for many of the other hymns for "Common of Saints." (Here again is the mp3 of Iste Confessor, the hymn for a Confessor, as an example of the tune.)

It's actually a really good thing, I think, that many hymns on feast days throughout the year are sung to the same tune; it holds things together in a very basic, sensory way.

Here are the readings for this feast; they include one of my favorite of all Psalms, #42:
1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks, *
so longs my soul for you, O God.

2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God; *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night, *
while all day long they say to me,
"Where now is your God?"

4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things: *
how I went with the multitude and led them into the house of God,

5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving, *
among those who keep holy-day.

6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul? *
and why are you so disquieted within me?

7 Put your trust in God; *
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Here's an mp3 of the Herbert Howells anthem, "Like as the hart," sung by Lauda, "a small chamber choir formed in 2000, for the purpose of singing early and modern a capella music," and apparently based in England. The words to this motet are taken from this Psalm as well, and are sung of course to the words in the Coverdale Psalter (found at Mission St. Clare):
1 Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks *
so longeth my soul after thee, O God.

2 My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God *
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?

3 My tears have been my meat day and night *
while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?

4 Now when I think thereupon, I pour out my heart by myself *
for I went with the multitude, and brought them forth into the house of God;

5 In the voice of praise and thanksgiving *
among such as keep holy-day.

6 Why art thou so full of heaviness, O my soul *
and why art thou so disquieted within me?

7 Put thy trust in God *
for I will yet give him thanks for the help of his countenance.

This is one of my favorite of all anthems. There are many more mp3s on this page, of all sorts of settings of the Evening Canticles and other English church music. (Another terrific piece is Howells' "Magnificat Collegium Regale.")

Here is "A hymn for the feast of St Mary Magdalene," from And here's something pretty interesting: a hymn to Mary Magdalene by Arthur Sullivan - of Gilbert & Sullivan, I do believe! - called "Saviour, when in dust to Thee." Here are the first two verses:
Saviour, when in dust to Thee
Low we bow the adoring knee;
When, repentant, to the skies
Scarce we lift our weeping eyes,
Oh, by all Thy pains and woe
Suffer'd once for man below,
Bending from Thy throne on high,
Hear our solemn litany.

By Thy helpless infant years,
By Thy life of want and tears,
By Thy days of sore distress
In the savage wilderness;
By the dread mysterious hour
Of the insulting tempters power;
Turn, O turn a favouring eye;
Hear our solemn litany.

Sullivan apparently wrote quite a few hymn tunes. There's even a midi file of the hymn.

The Orthodox also revere Mary Magdalene, calling her "myrrh-bearer." (There are several hymns on that page, although no sound files.)

Here's an icon of Mary Magdalene; I never knew what the deal was with the egg until today, but according to the the Orthodox Wiki page:
According to tradition, during a dinner with the emperor Tiberius Caesar, Mary Magdalene was speaking about Christ's Resurrection. Caesar scoffed at her, saying that a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned red. Because of this, icons of Mary Magdalene sometimes depict her holding a red egg. Also, this is believed to be an explanation for dyeing eggs red at Pascha.

In any case, I've always liked this icon:

Friday, July 11, 2008

July 11, Benedict of Nursia

Today is the Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia. Here's an mp3 of Iste Confessor, labeled a "hymn about a Holy Man" for the Common of Saints, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood. Here's the listing at Hymn Melodies for the whole year from the Sarum service books, where Iste Confessor is appointed as the hymn for First Vespers. Below is a an image of the chant score for this hymn:

The words to the hymn above - the first line of which is "He whose confession God of old accepted" - are found at Oremus Hymnal, where it says the hymn is "Latin, eighth century; trans. Laurence Housman, 1906."

Here is another set of words for this hymn; this source says that the hymn "was originally composed in honor of St. Martin of Tours":
This the Confessor of the Lord, whose triumph Now all the faithful celebrate, with gladness Erst on this feat-day merited to enter Into his glory.

Saintly and prudent, modest in behavior, Peaceful and sober, chaste was he, and lowly, While that life's vigor, coursing through his members, Quickened his being.

Sick ones of old time, to his tomb resorting, Sorely by ailments manifold afflicted, Oft-times have welcomed health and strength returning, At his petition.

Whence we in chorus gladly do him honor, Chanting his praises with devout affection, That in his merits we may have a portion, Now and forever.

Glory and virtue, honour and salvation, Be unto him that, sitting in the highest, Governeth all things, Lord and God Almighty, Trinity blessed.

Here are the words from my source to the hymn sung at Vespers on the feast days of monastics, which is quite similar in content. (That source lists hymns - different ones - for both monastics and "Holy Men.") The tune for this one is the same as on the mp3 and in the chant score above; again it's my favorite 11 11 11 5 meter, and this is one of my favorite of all hymns:
Lord, at your calling, this your holy servant
Left home and kindred, left all earthly honor,
Sold all possessions, to the poor gave bounty,
Followed your counsels.

Vowed in all meekness, to your will obedient,
Gentle and lowly, chaste into life's ending,
Owning no riches, but to serve you gladly,
You the great treasure.

O may we follow in your servant's footsteps,
Helped by the prayers that plead for us in heaven,
Till all together we may reach your glory
Journey's glad ending.

Honor, devotion, praise and adoration,
To the great Father, and to Christ our Savior,
Equal in glory with the Holy Spirit,
Reigning forever. Amen.

[EDIT: Here's the chant score of the version above:


Here's the Mission St. Clare entry for Benedict of Nursia:
Benedict was born at Nursia (Norcia) in Umbria, Italy, around 480 AD. He was sent to Rome for his studies, but was repelled by the dissolute life of most of the populace, and withdrew to a solitary life at Subiaco. A group of monks asked him to be their abbot, but some of them found his rule too strict, and he returned alone to Subiaco. Again, other monks called him to be their abbot, and he agreed, founding twelve communities over an interval of some years. His chief founding was Monte Cassino, an abbey which stands to this day as the mother house of the world-wide Benedictine order.
Totila the Goth (see People, right) visited Benedict, and was so awed by his presence that he fell on his face before him. Benedict raised him from the ground and rebuked him for his cruelty, telling him that it was time that his iniquities should cease. Totila asked Benedict to remember him in his prayers and departed, to exhibit from that time an astonishing clemency and chivalry in his treatment of conquered peoples.
Benedict drew up a rule of life for monastics, a rule which he calls "a school of the Lord's service, in which we hope to order nothing harsh or rigorous." The Rule gives instructions for how the monastic community is to be organized, and how the monks are to spend their time. An average day includes about four hours to be spent in liturgical prayer (called the Divinum Officium -- the Divine Office), five hours in spiritual reading and study, six hours of labor, one hour for eating, and about eight hours for sleep. The Book of Psalms is to be recited in its entirety every week as a part of the Office.
A Benedictine monk takes vows of "obedience, stability, and conversion of life." That is, he vows to live in accordance with the Benedictine Rule, not to leave his community without grave cause, and to seek to follow the teaching and example of Christ in all things. Normal procedure today for a prospective monk is to spend a week or more at the monastery as a visitor. He then applies as a postulant (see Definitions), and agrees not to leave for six months without the consent of the Abbot. (During that time, he may suspect that he has made a mistake, and the abbot may say, "Yes, I think you have. Go in peace." Alternately, he may say, "It is normal to have jitters at this stage. I urge you to stick it out a while longer and see whether they go away." Many postulants leave before the six months are up.) After six months, he may leave or become a novice (see Definitions), with vows for one year. After the year, he may leave or take vows for three more years. After three years, he may leave, take life vows (see Definitions), or take vows for a second three years. After that, a third three years. After that, he must leave or take life vows (fish or cut bait). Thus, he takes life vows after four and a half to ten and a half years in the monastery. At any point in the proceedings at which he has the option of leaving, the community has the option of dismissing him.
The effect of the monastic movement, both of the Benedictine order and of similar orders that grew out of it, has been enormous. We owe the preservation of the Holy Scriptures and other ancient writings in large measure to the patience and diligence of monastic scribes. In purely secular terms, their contribution was considerable. In Benedict's time, the chief source of power was muscle, whether human or animal. Ancient scholars apparently did not worry about labor-saving devices. The labor could always be done by oxen or slaves. But monks were both scholars and workers. A monk, after spending a few hours doing some laborious task by hand, was likely to think, "There must be a better way of doing this." The result was the systematic development of windmills and water wheels for grinding grain, sawing wood, pumping water, and so on. The rotation of crops (including legumes-see Definitions) and other agricultural advances were also originated or promoted by monastic farms. The monks, by their example, taught the dignity of labor and the importance of order and planning. For details, see The Mediaeval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages, by Jean Gimpel, (Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1976; Penguin, 1977, ISBN 0-14-00-4514-7).

Here are the readings for the day, and here's today's collect:
Almighty and everlasting God, your precepts are the wisdom of a loving Father: Give us grace, following the teaching and example of your servant Benedict, to walk with loving and willing hearts in the school of the Lord's service; let your ears be open to our prayers; and prosper with your blessing the work of our hands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Here's a wonderful Fra Angelico portrait of Benedict from Wikimedia Commons:

And this one's terrific, too, don't you think? I haven't yet been able to determine who the artist was, although the style does look familiar:

And I like this icon, too, which I found at FHD:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Canticle: "The Song of the Sea" Part I

Kishnevi, who sometimes comments on another of my blogs, has left a really interesting description of the way the Deuteronomy version of "The Song of the Sea" (also called "The Song of Moses") was traditionally written out on the Torah scroll. I hope he won't mind if I reproduce the whole comment in a new post (to which I'm adding a couple of line breaks):
For purpose of context and comparison, the only one of the OT canticles which became part of the Jewish daily prayers is what we call the Song of the Sea (iow, the First Song of Moses). It's the Psalms and selected verses from the prophets (most importantly, the passage from Isaiah you know as the Sanctus and we call the Kedushah (same meaning as Sanctus)

The two songs of Moses are of course read as part of the regular cycle which allows the entire Torah to be read each year as part of the Sabbath services; the Song of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur afternoon, but only because the entire Book of Jonah is read at that time; the opening chapters of 1 Samuel are read as the prophetic portion on Rosh Hashanah, and that of course includes the Song of Hannah.

The two Songs of Moses receive special treatment in the traditional scribal writing of the Torah scroll. The Deuteronomy song is written as two columns of half verses, with a space running down the middle between them. The Song of the Sea is written in a pattern that results in a series of diagonals across the parchment/page. Verse 1, up to the word 'v'amru' (and spoke) occupies a full ine. The next word, v'omer (saying) is written by itself, then a space follows, then the middle phrase of the verse, then a space, then the single word sus (horse)at the left margin, then on the next line the remainder of the verse ('and his rider he has thrown into the sea'--which in Hebrew requires only three words), then a space, then the first part of verse 2 ("the Lord is my strength and my song and He has become to me"--five words in Hebrew), then on the next line, the single word "l'yeshua" (salvation), a space, then a three word phrase, a space, then a single word at the end of the line with the last two words of the verse at the start of the next line. The spatial pattern repeats every two lines, and every verse after verse 1 is spread over three lines in an interlocking pattern (the last half line of line a, the full line b, the first half line of lince c). The number of words in the phrases, other than the one-word phrases at the start and end of the alternate lines, vary as needed between two and six. The very last line manages to have the word "hayam" (the sea) as the solo word both at its start and end
and the Lord brought back on them the waters of/
the sea--but the Children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of--the sea./

[The dashes are the spaces.] It's a neat visual trick that most printings of the Biblical text don't even come close to.

How great, eh? While trying to find an image of this on the web (no luck so far, but I'll post it if I do), I came across this, in an article called "Sofrut: Scribal arts and sacred texts":
The scribe prepares the parchment by scratching 43 horizontal lines on it and two vertical ones at each end. This allows for a standard 42 lines of writing. Each sheet of parchment contains three to eight columns of writing. Certain letters might be stretched within a column to justify the left margin.

There are some places in the Torah where certain letters are larger or smaller than standard, or where the text is written in a different type of column. Each deviation from the norm carries a special meaning. For example, the "Song of the Sea" (Exodus 15:1-19), which describes the parting of the Sea of Reeds, consists of three interlocking columns. The two outer columns symbolize the sea parted on either side, with the middle column representing the children of Israel marching on dry ground. Visually, this sets the section apart from the surrounding columns. Such changes were instituted by the Masoretes--scribes of the 7-9th centuries who standardized the biblical text--to highlight the importance of certain passages. All of the writing and layout must be done exactly to specification in order for the scroll to be kosher.

More later about "The Song of the Sea," which is a really interesting Canticle - and, it's thought by some, one of the oldest of all things in the entire Bible. Meantime, here's an mp3 of the Exodus "Song of the Sea" from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood.

Here is the BCP version of the words to this Canticle:
8    The Song of Moses    Cantemus Domino
Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18
Especially suitable for use in Easter Season
I will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted; *
    the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my refuge; *
    the Lord has become my Savior.
This is my God and I will praise him, *
    the God of my people and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a mighty warrior; *
    Yahweh is his Name.
The chariots of Pharoah and his army has he hurled into the sea; *
    the finest of those who bear armor have been
                               drowned in the Red Sea.
The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them; *
    they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might; *
    your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.
Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods? *
    who is like you, glorious in holiness,
    awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?
You stretched forth your right hand; *
    the earth swallowed them up.
With your constant love you led the people you redeemed; *
    with your might you brought them in safety to
                          your holy dwelling.
You will bring them in and plant them *
    on the mount of your possession,
The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord, *
    the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.
The Lord shall reign *
    for ever and for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

EDIT: I believe the image below (from this page at Wikipedia) is an example of what kishnevi is talking about. I'm not sure whether it's the Deuteronomy or Exodus version, between which (according to what's been said so far) there are differences; this seems to be three columns, but I may be wrong about that:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Morning Canticle

Canticles are simply defined as "liturgical songs not Psalms taken from Scripture." The Canticles for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline are all "Gospel Canticles"; all are taken from that section of the Bible - and in fact, all are taken from the Gospel of Luke. The most well-known Canticle, the Magnificat (or "The Song of Mary"), is sung in monastic communities each day at Vespers, or Evening Prayer. Another very famous Evening Canticle is the Nunc Dimittis (or "The Song of Simeon"), sung every night at Compline.

Less well-known is the Morning Canticle, Benedictus Dominus Deus (also called "The Song of Zechariah"), sung every morning at Lauds (or Morning Prayer) just after the Verse/Response following the hymn on the day.  Here's a video of the canticle sung in Latin; it's sung with Hodie Christus natus est as its antiphon - which is a bit strange, since Hodie is normally the antiphon upon Magnificat for Christmas Day, usually sung, that is, at Vespers and not at Lauds.  The video says the singers here are Vienna's "Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz"; perhaps they do use Hodie at Lauds.  I'll check it out and will post what I find.  At any rate, you can hear Benedictus Dominus Deus sung to Canticle Tone 1, and that's a great thing!  The Canticle itself starts at about :55 seconds in; the words are all there, so you can see this for yourself anyway.

Here are the Latin and English words; the Latin words come from the Vulgate, and the English from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:
Benedictus [Dominus] Deus Israhel quia visitavit et fecit redemptionem plebi suae
et erexit cornu salutis nobis in domo David pueri sui
sicut locutus est per os sanctorum qui a saeculo sunt prophetarum eius
salutem ex inimicis nostris et de manu omnium qui oderunt nos
ad faciendam misericordiam cum patribus nostris et memorari testamenti sui sancti
iusiurandum quod iuravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum daturum se nobis
ut sine timore de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati serviamus illi
in sanctitate et iustitia coram ipso omnibus diebus nostris
et tu puer propheta Altissimi vocaberis praeibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias eius
ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi eius in remissionem peccatorum eorum
per viscera misericordiae Dei nostri in quibus visitavit nos oriens ex alto
illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis
puer autem crescebat et confortabatur spiritu et erat in deserto usque in diem ostensionis suae ad Israhel

BLESSED be the Lord God of Israel : for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us : in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy Prophets : which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies : and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers : and to remember his holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham : that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies : might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him : all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest : for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people : for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God : whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death : and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.

There is a Taize version of this Canticle also; this one's in Latin, French, and English - quite nice, too!

The Roman Breviary does something interesting; in addition to singing the "The Song of Zechariah," it appoints a different Canticle for Morning Prayer every day, to take the place of a fourth Psalm. (Most of these Canticles can also be found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer - but not in any earlier version.) Here's that list:
  • On Sundays and Festivals, the "Canticle of the Three Children" (Dan., iii, 57).
  • On Mondays, the "Canticle of Isaias the Prophet" (Isaiah 12).
  • On Tuesdays, the "Canticle of Ezechias" (Isaiah 38:10-20).
  • On Wednesdays, the "Canticle of Anna" (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
  • On Thursdays, the "Canticle of Moses" (Exodus 15:1-19).
  • on Fridays the "Canticle of Habacuc" (Hab., iii 2-19).
  • On Saturdays, the "Canticle of Moses" (Deuteronomy 32:1-43).

That Wikipedia entry also says that:
In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches there are nine Biblical Canticles (or Odes) that are chanted at Matins These form the basis of the Canon, a major component of Matins.
The nine Canticles are as follows:
Originally, these Canticles were chanted in their entirety every day, with a short refrain inserted between each verse. Eventually, short verses (troparia) were composed to replace these refrains, a process traditionally inaugurated by Saint Andrew of Crete.[5] Gradually over the centuries, the verses of the Biblical Canticles were omitted (except for the Magnificat) and only the composed troparia were read, linked to the original canticles by an Irmos. During Great Lent however, the original Biblical Canticles are still read.
Another Biblical Canticle, the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), is either read or sung at Vespers.

Something else that's interesting: Roman Canticle replacing the 4th song for Tuesday, above, is "Hezekiah's Canticle." It's from Isaiah 38:

    10 I said, "In the middle of my life
         I am to enter the gates of Sheol;
         I am to be deprived of the rest of my years."
    11 I said, "I will not see the LORD,
         The LORD in the land of the living;
         I will look on man no more among the inhabitants of the world.
    12 "Like a shepherd's tent my dwelling is pulled up and removed from me;
         As a weaver I rolled up my life
         He cuts me off from the loom;
         From day until night You make an end of me.
    13 "I composed my soul until morning.
         Like a lion--so He breaks all my bones,
         From day until night You make an end of me.
    14 "Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter;
         I moan like a dove;
         My eyes look wistfully to the heights;
         O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.

Below is a public domain image at Wikipedia Commons, of "Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 103v - Hezekiah's Canticle the Musée Condé, Chantilly."

If I can find a complete mp3 of a choral Benedictus Dominus Deus - or a recording of Hezekiah's Canticle! - I will come back and post it.

[EDIT: Wow, it looks like Orlando Gibbons wrote a "Prayer of Hezekiah"! I'm not sure if it's the same text, but you can listen to it here.]

Here is a Russian ikon of Zechariah:


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