Monday, December 31, 2007

'The Worcester Fragments'

Yesterday at the church of St. Mary the Virgin, part of the mass was taken from the "Worcester Fragments":
The setting of Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei comes from the Worcester fragments. Dating from the late thirteenth century and early fourteenth century, the fragments are among the most priceless pieces of late medieval English polyphony.

Here's an idea of how this music sounds; this was recorded live at a Medieval Music festival in Sweden:

Here's the content from the YouTube page:
Nomemus - Nordic festival for Medieval Music, 2011, Söderköping Sweden.

Extract from concert with Trio Mediaeval ensemble in S:t Laurentii church, 8 September 2011. Music from the Worcester Fragments of 13th -- 14th century England
The concert was called: A Worcester Ladymass.

Singers: Anna Maria Friman , Linn Andrea Fuglseth, Torunn Östrem Ossum

This video is labeled "Cadfael - Sanctus And Benedictus (from the Worcester fragments)"; I'm not sure exactly what that means. Perhaps they used a recording of this during one of the TV shows?  In any case, I don't know who the singers are.

More examples:  here's an mp3 sample of a piece entitled "Beata Víscera," from the website of the Introitus Ensemble.

Here's an mp3 of "Salve Sancta Parens." 

There is also an entire page of samples at this page, a CD put out by the Orlando Consort, consisting entirely of pieces from the Worcester Fragments; the Sanctus is there, and it's quite beautiful. And here is a CD offered at "Alleluia Nativitas: Medieval Christmas," where you will find some of the same pieces; many of them are apparently specifically for singing at Christmastide.

Here's a page at Oxford with photos of "15 original leaves of 'The Worcester Fragments' (from manuscripts of polyphonic music, in Latin), recovered from late-medieval bindings of Worcester Cathedral Priory, now at the Bodleian. England, Worcester; Late 13th - early 14th cent."

I believe I am allowed under the terms of their copyright policy to point to images on their server (although I am not allowed to download and post them myself). So I will do that. Here is an image labeled "ol. 12r (formerly 11r, and LXXXIIIr in the medieval foliation) (a) 'Amor patris presentatur' (Mot) (b) 'Munda Maria mater militie' (Mot)":

Here's one labeled "fol. 16v (formerly 15v) 'Kyrie fons pietatis' (Tr or Mot only)":

I don't think there are any of the three pieces sung yesterday online, but reference is made at the site to other fragments.

Here's the Wikipedia page about this:
The Worcester Fragments are a collection of medieval music associated with the English town of Worcester.

The Worcester Fragments comprise 25 short pieces of vocal music. They are referred to as "fragments" because they do not exist in one unified manuscript but have been reassembled from sheets used as book-binding material in later centuries. These old materials had themselves at some stage been bundled together into several collections of flyleaves and saved in various books which had historical connections with Worcester. Once it was recognised that these scattered fragments came from the same source it was possible to piece them together, though much remained missing.

The pieces are from the 13th century. None of them is longer than 5 minutes, some as little as 1 minute long. They demonstrate a variety of musical forms from the period, including the conductus and motet.

Here's a page at "Findarticles" called "The cohesion of the Worcester fragments".

A bit outside the topic of "chant," but interesting and worth posting, I thought.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

MusicaSacra again comes through, with a link to a PDF of "Britt’s Hymns of the Breviary and Missal." (That second link is the PDF file itself, which is 26M in size. You can right-click and save to your desktop, but it will take awhile.)
This wonderful 1922 book, edited by Fr. Matthew Britt, assembles a vast number of hymns from Christian history, in Latin with English translations, including notes on composer and authors as well as liturgical use. It is an essential book for all Catholic musicians. It is newly available in print and also online.

It lists all the hymns as they are sung:

  • "The Hymns of the Psalter," a section that lists the hymns sung at each Office.

  • "The Proper of Seasons," that lists the hymns for various Holy Days and Seasons.

  • "The Proper of Saints" lists all the hymns for various major Saints' days.

  • "The Common of Saints" lists hymns to be used for others celebrated in song.

  • There is also information following each hymn as to its origin, as well as some explication of meaning and/or theology.

  • There are also entire sections dedicated to Hymn Authors and Translators.

  • There's quite a bit of good stuff in the Intro, too, about meter and etc.

This is a wonderful find! It's a very complete resource - except that there's no music, unfortunately.

Well, that's what Seeqpod and I are for, I reckon....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hodie Christus Natus Est

Hodie Christus Natus Est - "Today Christ Is Born" - is the antiphon upon Magnificat at Vespers of Christmas Day.  Here it is, sung by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey at Ganagobie.

Hodie Christus natus est:
Hodie Salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
laetantur Archangeli
Hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Today Christ is born:
Today the Savior appeared:
Today on Earth the Angels sing,
Archangels rejoice:
Today the righteous rejoice, saying:
Glory to God in the highest.

Here's the chant score from the Liber Usualis:

You can also listen to this mp3, from the Benedictines of Brazil.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

O Virgo Virginum

The medieval breviary in the Sarum use (but not in the Roman) prescribed the antiphon "O Virgo Virginum" as antiphon upon the Magnificat for 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.

Here's an interesting thing, though! In previous years, I've created the chant score from another of the "O"s, pointing out the words as I could only imagine it was done. But I remembered I'd once seen the chant score on another site (and I think posted it here at some point) - and I found it again this year. It's here, on a page devoted to Mary at the website of the University of Dayton (which lives at the website of a group called The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute ); the source is given as "From Processionale Praemonstratensis, 1932."

Here's something from that page:
Most authors agree that there were seven original 'O Antiphons' and that they are a very ancient expression of Christian Prayer. While their author is unknown, they are cited in at least two works as early as the eighth century. Both Cynewulf, an Anglo-Saxon author, and Amalarius, a liturgist and the Archbishop of Trier (d. 850), who was a student of the teacher Alcuin, cite the existence of the 'O Antiphons' as early as the seventh/eighth century.

The 'O Antiphons' get their name from the fact that they all begin with the interjection 'O': O Sapientia (Wisdom); O Adonai (Lord); O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse); O Clavis David (Key of David); O Oriens (Dawn of the East); O Rex Gentium (King of Gentiles); O Emmanuel.

While the original 'O Antiphons' numbered seven, over time a number of others were added to the liturgy of particular regions, and sometimes for particular religious feast days which fell during Advent, or even in the liturgy of some medieval religious orders. Some medieval religious churches had as many as twelve O Antiphons which were sung in the Advent Liturgy leading up to Christmas Eve.

Among these, there was an important Marian 'O Antiphon' which appears in both the Gallican (France) and Saerum (England) liturgies. Although it is difficult to establish just when this antiphon was first introduced, it was certainly known in the Middle Ages.

This Marian Antiphon is still used today in the liturgy of the Norbertine Order. While the Latin Liturgy begins the O Antiphons on December 17 with 'O Sapientia,' and ends on December 23 with 'O Emmanuel,' the Liturgy of the Norbertine Order beings their O Antiphons on December 16 with 'O Sapientia,' and ends on December 23 with the beautiful Marian Antiphon 'O Virgo Virginum.'

So, a little more history. No sound file for this one, because the only group I know of that still sings this (aside from the aforementioned Norbertine Order - about which of course I will have to do some research!) are Anglican/Episcopal religious - and they are a rare species indeed. I'll post what I learn about the Norbertines - and also whatever I find out about the Processionale Praemonstratensis.

Here's the English-language score to "O Virgin of Virgins," though; the words are very beautiful. And now can sing it yourself, tonight!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

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.

From the Blackfriars. Other audio files here and here.

Here again is the "O Antiphon" page at Full Homely Divinity; here's an article about The Hymns of Advent; here's one about the Advent Saints.

Here's the English-language score:

Friday, December 21, 2007

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.

From the Blackfriars. I like this version, too, which is the only one I've found online in English. 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. The first section is the antiphon itself; the second is a very pretty composition based on it.

Today is the feast of St. Thomas, though, so this antiphon is not sung as usual, as antiphon upon the Magnificat. It may appear elsewhere in Vespers, though.

You can listen to the Musica Sacra version here via this post, or find the audio file at Fisheaters, here.

Here's the English-language score:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

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.

From the Blackfriars. Still my best-loved antiphon, I think, and this is still my favorite version, from Boston Camerata. Here's the Musica Sacra mp3, with Magnificat; that's the way these are really sung, so it's good to hear it complete. I'm going to go sing it in person myself.

Here's a pretty interesting article about the Great "O"s, written, obviously, by another enthusiast. More about other, regional and "lesser," "O" antiphons there, including O Mundi Domina.

Here's the English-language chant score:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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.

From the Blackfriars. Here's the Musica Sacra mp3, with Magnificat. Wikipedia now seems to have an extensive page on the antiphons.

Here's something interesting at Wikipedia that I hadn't known about: two "Antiphons on the Benedictus":
Accompanying the O Antiphons are two Antiphons said at Lauds, on December 21 and 23, also relating to the theme of the upcoming birth of Christ. The first, due to the feast of St Thomas falling on December 21, is traditionally used instead in the commemoration of the feria. With the transference of this feast to July 3 in the revised calendar, these are again used in the Liturgy of the Hours as antiphons. The Monday through Saturday which fall on the days of the O Antiphons also have their own antiphons for the psalms of Lauds, rather than repeating the antiphons of the previous Sunday, as is otherwise done in Advent.

December 21:

Nolite timere: quinta enim die veniet ad vos Dominus noster.

Fear not, for on the fifth day our Lord will come to you.

December 23:

Ecce completa sunt omnia, quae dicta sunt per Angelum de Virgine Maria.

Behold, all things are fulfilled, which were spoken by the Angel to the Virgin Mary.

Here's the English version of the chant score of "O Clavis David":

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

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.

From the Blackfriars. You can listen to the antiphon sung on each side of Magnificat, as it really is sung, here via this mp3 file at this post at Musica Sacra, where 7 of the antiphons are posted together.

And here's the chant score to the antiphon in English:

Monday, December 17, 2007

O Adonai

The antiphon upon Magnificat for December 17: O Adonai.

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.

From the Blackfriars. Here's another audio file, an mp3, found at the website of the Pontifical North American College. Here is a short sample clip of Arvo Pärt's O Adonai.

Here's an English-language chant score:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

O Sapientia

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 and use only 7 of the Antiphons.) These antiphons are quite ancient - from earlier than the 9th Century, it's reckoned. They were composed of snippets of Scripture (from various sources, most prominently Isaiah) that, in keeping with the Advent themes of hopeful longing and expectation, become lovely poetic descriptions of hope for the Messiah, and pointers to the Incarnation. See Derek's piece at Episcopal Cafe for a detailed discussion of these antiphons and their place in English history. This is also an excellent reference page, one that includes Biblical sources for the texts.

The first antiphon is "O Sapientia" - "O Wisdom":
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.

Here is the Latin version sung by Blackfriars, "the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars in Oxford," sounding as it would at Vespers:

Other mp3 files of this antiphon are here from WDTPRS (a solo version), and here from Magdalen College. (For something very different, have a listen to a sample of Arvo Pärt's version, O Weisheit, sung in German by the Paul Hillier ensemble.)

Here is an English-language chant score:

I must disagree, however, with the references cited at the link above for this particular antiphon; the citations from Isaiah really are not sources for the images used and ideas expressed here. But Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 24 is:
1 Wisdom shall praise her own self, and shall be honoured in God, and shall glory in the midst of her people,
2 And shall open her mouth in the churches of the most High, and shall glorify herself in the sight of his power,
3 And in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted, and shall be admired in the holy assembly.
4 And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise, and among the blessed she shall be blessed, saying:
5 I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures:

6 I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth:
7 I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud.
8 I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea,
9 And have stood in all the earth: and in every people,
10 And in every nation I have had the chief rule:

11 And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord.
12 Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle,
13 And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.
14 From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.

Friday, December 07, 2007

More Chant Software

Here's the history of Gregorio:
The Gregorio project was born in 2006 in ENST Bretagne, a graduate engineering school in France. It was at the beginning a student project of six months, supervised by Mr Yannis Haralambous, developer of Omega. Only Élie Roux decided to continue the project and to develop it under GPL.

At the beginning, the goal of the project was to create a graphical interface to the monks of the abbey Sainte Madeleine du Barroux so that they could use a gregorian font. This font, Gregoria, is a professional OpenType font designed by Elena Albertoni, a typographer and graphic designer. Finally, for licence issues, it has been decided that the project will have its own font called gregorio.

At the end of 2006 year, a new developer, Olivier Berten joins the project and creates the OpusTeX part. In April 2007, Gregorio reached a certain maturity and can start to be used, at least its command line interface, as a preprocessor for OpusTeX. A project has been created on

This site was set online in April 2007 with a design by Patrick Roux and has been corrected and improved by Nicolas Aupetit. The autotools support and modularization of the code is made by Jérémie Corbier since April 2007 too.

From this page, which includes download instructions:

The gregorio software is able to read the formats gabc and GregorioXML, and to write those two formats as well as OpusTeX. For now it can only be a powerful preprocessor for writing scores in OpusTeX.

This software is only available (for the moment) on GNU systems (like GNU/Linux). Porting it under Windows would probably be easy. If you want to try, please contact the gregorio developers.

Open-source, of course. Sounds like they want eventually to create a simple GUI for this, too - and looks like they might like volunteers, if anybody's interested.

MusicaSacra's new discussion forum

Is here. Here's the announcement, from November 28:
Finally, we have a forum. This is a great venue for asking questions and providing answers. Less than one week old, it is already taking off as a highly useful and well trafficked application. Enjoy!

Some random current topics: "Introductions to Gregorian Chant," "A 40 voice Mass!," "Polyphony: 20th-21st Centuries, Noteworthy Motets," and "Ordinary for Advent Sundays."

For instance....

The "Links" section of the Cantus Planus website sent me to the Gregorian Chant site at Princeton (which I already knew about, but which I haven't visited in a long while).

That site sent me to the website Cantus, at the University of Western Ontario. And there I went to the Search page, and entered "O mundi domina" in the search box.

I got back at least 40 results, several of which sent me to pages with photgraphs like this one:

And that, my friends, is obviously a very old chant book. And there, right in front of our eyes, are the little-known medieval "O" antiphons - "O Gabriel," "O Rex Pacifice," "O Ierusalem," along with the first few opening notes of "O Mundi Domina" - I mentioned just one post ago.

Here's a different "O mundi domina," in the older musical notation:

In a different vein, here's another link: Office chant books from the Cathedral Church Augsburg, found on a German site. Here is a page of Responsory verses from that Cathedral.

Wonderful stuff out there these days - and how great that it is available to all!

Cantus Planus

Here's another amazing internet find: Cantus Planus: Welcome to Regensburg´s data pool for research on Gregorian chant.
The following files are made available in accordance with the aims of the IMS Study Group Cantus Planus, which include the exchange of data in electronic form. They have been made as accurate as possible, but they have not in all cases been checked as rigorously as would be necessary for a traditional publication. They are rather in the nature of raw data which, it is hoped, will be useful for future chant research.

Click on the links below to download or view the data on screen or search the databases.

The "links below" included "Datafiles (read or download)"; "Databases (interactive)"; "Links"; "IMS Study Group"; "Antiphonaria (RSIM)"; and "Impressum." I've already been to that "Antiphonaria," which looks quite amazing. And the "Interactive Databases" link took me to a page from which I could find out about "Responsories for Advent," among other things.

I think I'll be able to find out something more about "O Mundi Domina" here, because I was sent to a broken link from a Google search, and eventually found the new site.

O Mundi Domina

An interesting find! This is another "O" Antiphon; it's sung on Christmas Eve - a day later than "O Virgo Virginum" (the English antiphon of December 23rd) or "O Emmanuel" (the Roman one), and it comes from medieval Hungary. You can hear an mp3 here, linked from this page. (Or you can listen to a better, clearer version of the antiphon here from; click #4 - or, better still, listen to them all.)

Here's the Latin, followed by the English:
O mundi domina regio ex semine orta
ex tuo iam Christus processit alvo tamquam sponsus de thalamo
hic iacet in praesepio qui et sidera regit.

O Lady of the World, sprung of Royal Race,
now hath Christ come forth from thy womb as a bridegroom from his chamber:
Here lieth he in the crib who ruleth the stars.

That page also mentions two other "O" antiphons - "O rex pacifice," and "O Ierusalem" - that it says were used in medieval times. The Anonymous 4 website says that:
The Office antiphon O mundi domina, for Christmas Eve, uses the same tune as the other great “O” antiphons of Advent, but with a text found only in Hungary.

It's the "same tune" only in a manner of speaking; obviously it's an alternate version of the tune we know - but you can definitely hear it. An excellent example, I'd say, of regional variation that has given rise to something that sounds quite different.

Giovanni Vianini, though, sings it straightforwardly, using the Great O melody:

But we sang the antiphon this week in rehearsal - with nobody catching on that this is related to the Great "O"s, which we had just sung the week before! - and we'll be singing it, quite by coincidence, I think, on the 23rd. Perfect timing! I have the chant written out in modern musical notation and will post it at some point, once I scan or photograph it.

There are quite a few collections of medieval Hungarian Christmas chant music out there, it seems. There must be something particularly notable about this - or perhaps the texts were especially well-preserved or abundant for some reason?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Taking a (very brief) extra-Advent moment to discuss the Proclamation of Christmas

Fear not; this will just be a short detour out of the season.

After listening to the "Proclamation of Christmas" sound file from the Regina Laudis "The Announcement of Christmas" CD I went (naturally) on a hunt for the Latin text so I could match up the mp3 with the words.

I found it, side-by-side with the English version, at the "Customs of Christmas" page at Fisheaters (a really great little informational site, from - it seems - a lay Catholic perspective):

The Eighth of the Calends of January

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:

From the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:

From the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:

From Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten:

From David's being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:

In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel:

In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad:

From the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:

In the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:

The whole world being in peace:

In the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:


Octavo Kalendas Januarii

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono:

A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:

A nativitate Abrahae, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:

A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:

Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:

Hebdomoda sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:

Olympiade centesima nongentesima quarta:

Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:

Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo:

toto urbe in pace composito,

sexta mundi aetate, Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:


Here is a PDF of the chant in modern musical notation and language
, found at the U.S. Catholic Bishops website. They have, BTW, edited the "creation of the world" language; it now reads:
"Today, the twenty-fifth day of December, unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth and then formed man and woman in his own image....

Which is a good thing, I'd say. Heh. The sisters are singing the other version, though, with the exact counting of years. Sometimes Tradition gets a little bit in the way, don't you think? "Unknown ages" is a much more beautiful and mystical idea, and evokes the immensity and majesty of God in a much more powerful way, too.

Well, anyway. Now (hurriedly) back to our regularly-scheduled celebration of Advent.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Armor of Light

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

And the year begins again. I was very tired tonight, and had already been to Lauds and Eucharist in the morning - but went to Vespers anyway because I couldn't stay away; Advent is for me the one irresistible thing.

Believe it or not, I cannot find a complete mp3 recording of the Advent Vespers hymn, Conditor Alme Siderum - either in English or in Latin - anywhere online. Which is quite amazing, when you think about it; it's one of the most well-known, and certainly the most popular, of all the Office Hymns.

But here is a new recording by the Sisters of the Abbey of Regina Laudis called "Women in Chant: The Announcement of Christmas (CD)," which has an almost complete Latin version; here's a RAM file, the hymn sung the way it would be in choir (the way I just heard it!). Here's the TPL listing.
Conditor alme siderum,
aeterna lux credentium,
Christe, redemptor omnium,
exaudi preces supplicum.

Qui condolens interitu
mortis perire saeculum,
salvasti mundum languidum,
donans reis remedium.

Vergente mundi vespere,
uti sponsus de thalamo,
egressus honestissima
Virginis matris clausula.

Cuius forti potentiae
genu curvantur omnia;
caelestia, terrestria
nutu fatentur subdita.

Te, Sancte, fide quaesumus,
venture iudex saeculi,
conserva nos in tempore
hostis a telo perfidi.

Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula.

That CD might get on my list to purchase; there's what looks to be a quite beautiful version of the Proclamation of Christmas on it, something you don't get to hear every day.

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).

Friday, November 09, 2007

An Office Hymn (no tunes) Compendium, Part III (with thanks to Wiki-pedia - Największa internetowa encyklopedia.)

[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).]

You knew it had to happen, didn't you? From Polish Wikipedia comes the Brevier-Himnoj, at El Vikipedio.

Which is, of course, the listing of all the hymns of the church year for Lauds, Noonday Prayer, and Vespers - in Esperanto.

Hymns are separated into categories, by liturgical season. There are hymns listed for: Ordinara tempo; Festoj en la ordinara tempo; Advento; Kristnaska tempo; Karesmo; and Paska tempo.

There are also the usual feasts and various occasions: Komunaj tekstoj; Propraj tekstoj laŭ la kalendaro; etc.

For instance, for the coming season of Advento, the following hymns are prescribed:

ĝis la 16-a de decembro

  • Vespera laŭdo: Conditor alme siderum [81]

  • Horo de la legaĵoj: Verbum supernum prodiens [82]

  • Matena laŭdo: Vox clara ecce intonat [83]

  • Meza horo

    • antaŭtagmeze: Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spiritus [84]

    • tagmeze: Rector potens, verax Deus [85]

    • posttagmeze: Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor [86]

post la 16-a de decembro

  • Vespera laŭdo: Verbum salutis omnium [87]

  • Horo de la legaĵoj: Veni, redemptor gentium [88]

  • Matena laŭdo: Magnis prophetæ vocibus [89]

  • Meza horo

    • antaŭtagmeze: Certum tenentes ordinem [90]

    • tagmeze: Dicamus laudes Domino [91]

    • posttagmeze: Ternis horarum terminis [92]

Clicking the note numbers will take you to a page that gives the words to the hymns in both Latin and Esperanto. No music, unfortunately, but the complete listing is there, categorized and noted. Of course.

Click here for An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part IV (with mp3s).

Click here to go back to An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part II (with mp3s).

Saturday, November 03, 2007

An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part II

[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).]

A post continuing my harmonizing of two sources to match Office hymn tunes to their words.
  1. Next comes an Easter Vespers hymn, Ad coenam Agni; here is the rather odd music. This is another hymn I'm totally unfamiliar with; here's the listing at Thesaurus Precum Latinarum, and here's the blurb:
    One of the earliest of the Ambrosian hymns, 6th century or earlier, this hymn is used for Vespers from Easter Sunday until Ascension. In the Breviary revision of 1632 by Pope Urban VIII the hymn was so greatly altered that only three lines of the original remained and thus is really a different hymn entirely. The revised hymn can be found under the title of Ad regias Agni dapes.

    I found a blog entry while Googling that gives those words, and notes that they were translated from a "6th century hymn, translated by John Mason Neale." Neale seems to have translated many of the office hymns into English; that's interesting. This one's also in our hymnal: it's #202, and the music apparently comes from the 12th Century. It's very strangely martial.

  2. We sang this one around Easter: "O sons and daughters" (Filii et Filiae) (mp3 here). Here's the TPL page, which says:
    This hymn was written by Jean Tisserand, O.F.M. (d. 1494) and originally had only nine stanzas. Stanzas "Discipulis adstantibus", "Ut intellexit Didymus", "Beati qui non viderunt" are early additions to the hymn. There are several different versions of the hymn. The one below is one of the more common versions.

    So, fairly recent.

  3. Here's the music for an "Epiphany Te Lucis." Words a bit different than this, but the same idea.

  4. Here is the mp3 for O lux beata Trinitas; here's the TPL page, where it says:
    This hymn is ascribed to St. Ambrose (340-397) and is used for Sunday Vespers for the second and fourth weeks of the Psalter in the Liturgy of the Hours. The hymn appears in the Roman Breviary under the title of Iam sol recedit igneus, where it is the Vespers hymn for the ferial office on Saturdays and Trinity Sunday.

    This one is #30 in the 1982 hymnal, listed as an Evening hymn.

  5. Here's a different set of words to one of my favorite hymns of all: Vexilla regis prodeunt (The Royal Banners Forward Go), a Vespers hymn for Passiontide. It's the last hymn we sing at St. Mary's on Palm Sunday. Here's the TPL page, and the writeup:
    Vexilla Regis was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and is considered one of the greatest hymns of the liturgy. Fortunatus wrote it in honor of the arrival of a large relic of the True Cross which had been sent to Queen Radegunda by the Emperor Justin II and his Empress Sophia. Queen Radegunda had retired to a convent she had built near Poitiers and was seeking out relics for the church there. To help celebrate the arrival of the relic, the Queen asked Fortunatus to write a hymn for the procession of the relic to the church.

    The hymn has, thus, a strong connection with the Cross and is fittingly sung at Vespers from Passion Sunday to Holy Thursday and on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. The hymn was also formerly sung on Good Friday when the Blessed Sacrament is taken from the repository to the altar. The text given below is the full text of Fortunatus' hymn, but verses 2, 4, and 7 are omitted when the hymn is used liturgically. The last two verses which form the concluding doxology are not by Fortunatus, but is rather the work of some later poet.

    This version, called "Fulfilled is all that David told," is called in Latin Impleta sunt. Here are the words, from the blog "Meam Commemorationem," (where there is a wonderful chant that plays when the page loads):
    Fulfilled is all that David told
    In true prophetic song of old:
    Amidst the nations, God, saith he,
    Hath reigned and trimphed from the Tree.

    O Tree of beauty! Tree of light!
    O Tree with royal purple dight!
    Elect on whose trumphas breast
    Those holy limbs should find their rest:

    On whose dear arms, so widely flung,
    The wight of this world's ransom hung,
    The price of humankind to pay,
    And spoil the spoiler of his prey.

    O Cross, our one reliance, hail!
    In this our Easter joy, avail
    To give fresh meric to the saint,
    And pardon to the penitent.

    To thee eternal Three in One,
    Let homage meet by all be done:
    Whom by the Cross thou dost restore,
    Preserve and govern evermore. Amen.

    Both sets of words have similar themes, though.

  6. Here is the music for Christe, Lux Mundi. This one is also in our hymnal; it's an Evening hymn, #33. It says the words are 10th C. Mozarabic and the music is from the "Friebourg MS," 14th C.

    While Googling for this one, I found another crazy thing at JSTOR: "'Christe Qui Lux es et Dies': And Its German, Dutch, and English Translations," an 1898 article in the American Journal of Philology. I also learned that Taizé has put out a CD called Christe, Lux Mundi, and also has written a little chant of the same name.

I still have more to go on this. Eventually, I'd like to order these liturgically, too; for now, I'm kind of liking giving the history, so it doesn't matter if they are in order.

Our 1982 hymnal has included many really interesting things, including some of the most ancient chants. I just found another thing this morning, too: S288 in the Service Music section is a Slavonic Te Deum in four parts! Gotta sing that baby someday.

Move on to An Office Hymn (no tunes) Compendium, Part III (with thanks to Wiki-pedia - Największa internetowa encyklopedia.) Or, go back to An Office Hymn Compendium, Part I.

An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part I

[EDIT:   This article is from 2007, and was 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).]

I've really been hoping to be able to find and post the music, in particular, for all the traditional hymns for all the Hours of the Divine Office; this seems to me to be the one place that's lacking in the breviary/Office area. (Derek, of course, has gone nuts on this before; I'll probably be duplicating some of his efforts, but hopefully some of this stuff will be new.)

This listing of hymns for the traditional Offices, from the "Thesaurus Precum Latinarum," is wonderful
, and it includes all the words to the hymns, by day of week and by liturgical season, in Latin and English. But there is no music.

So I'm going to harmonize sources! This is the first attempt. I found a page of recorded services of Compline (courtesy of the Compline Choir of St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin, Texas), and can at least pick out the mp3s of the traditional Office hymns from among these files, and point to the corresponding page at the Thesaurus Precum Latinarum. It's a start, anyway!

  1. Christe, qui lux es et dies: Here's the mp3, and here are the lyrics. The words are given at the TPL as Christe, qui, splendor et dies, but I'm almost certain it's the same song; I need to do a bit more research here and find out why the same song is referred to in two different ways. It seems to be simply a matter of translation. From TPL:
    Another old and venerable hymn for the close of day at Compline. This hymn has 8th century origins and is sometimes attributed to the Venerable Bede.

    The tune is very similar to that of the next hymn, Te lucis ante terminum; I'll be interested if I can find more about the history of the two to see if there's some connnection. I'm wondering if one began as a variant of the other. In fact, I've mixed these two up before; it makes sense that hymns for Compline would have similar themes, of course. This hymn is #40 in the 1982 Hymnal, used for Compline, and this choir is using those words.
  2. Te lucis ante terminum (the Sarum festal tone): Here's the mp3, and here are the lyrics. There is a discrepancy in the lyrics here, but again, I believe this to be simply a translation issue. The note at TPL might also shed some light on this:
    An old and venerable Ambrosian hymn from the 7th century for the close of day at Compline. This version is the one found in the Monastic Breviary and the Roman Breviary. The current version in the Liturgy of the Hours, which is given below, drops the second verse and replaces it with two other verses.

    This hymn is found in the 1982 Hymnal at #15 (listed for Noonday), #44, and #45 - both listed for Compline.
  3. The next hymn is listed as "Jesus, redeemer of the world" (Jesu, nostra redemptio). Here's the mp3 which is very familiar to me; I'm sure it's in the 1982, and I know I've sung it at Divine Office, but TPL doesn't have it under this Latin name. I found an 1837 book by John Chandler, Hymns of the Primitive Church, at Google Books that has the Latin words; here it is in English, translated by Chandler:
    O Christ, our Hope, our heart’s Desire,
    Redemption’s only Spring!
    Creator of the world art Thou,
    Its Savior and its King.

    How vast the mercy and the love
    Which laid our sins on Thee,
    And led Thee to a cruel death,
    To set Thy people free.

    But now the bands of death are burst,
    The ransom has been paid,
    And Thou art on Thy Father’s throne,
    In glorious robes arrayed.

    O may Thy mighty love prevail
    Our sinful souls to spare;
    O may we come before Thy throne,
    And find acceptance there!

    O Christ, be Thou our lasting Joy,
    Our ever great Reward!
    Our only glory may be it be
    To glory in the Lord.

    All praise to Thee, ascended Lord;
    All glory ever be
    To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    Through all eternity.

    But these words do not match, at all, with what's on the mp3 - nor are they even in the proper meter! The version sung here is, indeed, taken from #38 (for Compline) in the 1982 Hymnal. The note there says that the words are "Latin, 10th cent.; ver Hymnal 1982. St. 5, Anne K. LeCroy (b. 1930)." So I'm not sure exactly what this text was, originally; will do some looking into it. The tune, BTW, is also used for #238 for Martyrs, and there is a metrical version at #233 for Apostles, as well. This page at Google books notes that Jesu nostra redemptio is "an Ascension hymn of the 9th or 10th Century."

    The Chandler book linked above, BTW, gives a schedule of when the hymns were/are sung - day of week, season, etc.
  4. Next: "The eternal gifts of Christ the King" (Aeterna Christi munera). This one is totally unfamiliar to me; here's the music, and here's an Oremus version of the words. The tune there is not at all the same, though. There is a Palestrina Missa Aeterna Christi munera, but I can't find information on this office hymn anywhere. Oremus says the words are from Ambrose.

    ADDENDUM 01/02/08: From a kind visitor to one of my Office Hymn Compendium posts:
    re: Aeterna Christi munera.
    Matins office hymn for the Feast of an Apostle. Palestrina extended the concept to a mass for the feast of an apostle, 'Missa Aeterna Christi munera.'

    Attributed to Ambrose of Milan.

    root to reference info at
    (w reconstructed tune)

    Reconstructed tune in Ambrosian meter (iambic tetrameter):

    Ambrosian hymn texts (only four are of certain attribution to Ambrose; Aeterna Christi is regarded as "possible" - somewhere between probable and plausible).
    My favorite setting of this hymn is a polyphonic confection by the 17th C Mexican composer, Alberto de Salazar. There is a playable mp3 file at this site:

    Thank you, anon!
  5. Here's the mp3 of another version of Te lucis ante terminum, this time the "Ferial Tone, à 5," a composition by Tallis that includes the plainsong tune. And this time, the words are in Latin, which you can follow along with at the same link as above.

More later. Meanwhile, here's something interesting I just came across: "Middle English Versions of 'Criste qui lux es et dies'," an article at JSTOR, in a 1954 issue of The Harvard Theological Review. Perhaps there's an answer to my questions there - but of course, I can't find out because JSTOR charges for access (which is one of Fr. AKMA's peeves, I recalled, while gazing wistfully at the first page).

It does seem to be true that there's quite a bit of variety in various versions of these hymns. And why would we think otherwise? There were large distances between people and groups in those days, and cultural differences, and all sorts of things that went to create variations. Only a few of these tunes have reached down through history in a standard form; there are local and/or regional versions of most things - a good thing.

If you'd like, you can move on to An Office Hymn Compendium, Part II.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Anglican Chant is Chant, too

Here's the King's College Choir singing Psalm 50 to an Attwood chant.

You can find lots of videos of this choir singing lots of different pieces here, at a YouTube search page. My, internetters are certainly busy uploading files these days; a person can hardly keep up.

Here is the Coverdale version of Psalm 50, for your listening-and-following-along pleasure. The Coverdale Psalter was used in the Book of Common Prayer from the 1662 book onward (the Psalter was not included in any of the earlier books). The U.S. Book of Common Prayer uses a modern-language version, and so do many Anglicans all over the world today, even though most others retain the 1662 version as the "official" BCP. Most Anglican Chants have been written for the Coverdale Psalms until quite recently, and even today Anglican Chants are still being written using the Coverdale Psalter translation. It is beautiful.
1 The Lord, even the most mighty God, hath spoken *
and called the world, from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down thereof.

2 Out of Sion hath God appeared *
in perfect beauty.

3 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence *
there shall go before him a consuming fire, and a mighty tempest shall be stirred up round about him.

4 He shall call the heaven from above *
and the earth, that he may judge his people.

5 Gather my saints together unto me *
those that have made a covenant with me with sacrifice.

6 And the heaven shall declare his righteousness *
for God is Judge himself.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak *
I myself will testify against thee, O Israel; for I am God, even thy God.

8 I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices, or for thy burnt-offerings *
because they were not alway before me.

9 I will take no bullock out of thine house *
nor he-goat out of thy folds.

10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine *
and so are the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls upon the mountains *
and the wild beasts of the field are in my sight.

12 If I be hungry, I will not tell thee *
for the whole world is mine, and all that is therein.

13 Thinkest thou that I will eat bulls’ flesh *
and drink the blood of goats?

14 Offer unto God thanksgiving *
and pay thy vows unto the most Highest.

15 And call upon me in the time of trouble *
so will I hear thee, and thou shalt praise me.

16 But unto the ungodly said God *
Why dost thou preach my laws, and takest my covenant in thy mouth;

17 Whereas thou hatest to be reformed *
and hast cast my words behind thee?

18 When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst unto him *
and hast been partaker with the adulterers.

19 Thou hast let thy mouth speak wickedness *
and with thy tongue thou hast set forth deceit.

20 Thou satest, and spakest against thy brother *
yea, and hast slandered thine own mother’s son.

21 These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest wickedly, that I am even such a one as thyself *
but I will reprove thee, and set before thee the things that thou hast done.

22 O consider this, ye that forget God *
lest I pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you.

23 Whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me *
and to him that ordereth his conversation right will I shew the salvation of God.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Byzantine Catholic Chants

Here is a page of mp3s of Byzantine Catholic chant music.
Liturgical chant is, above all, sung chant - and sung chant is best learned by hearing. We hope that the following recordings may provide both instruction and edification. Note that not all use the current English translations and music, and some of the Church Slavonic settings follow the Papp Irmologion rather than the Bokšai Prostopinije.

Most of the clips use English lyrics, and it's a really good choir. Professional-sounding, in fact. Maybe this is a seminary or something, not sure. I'm interested in all kinds and styles of chant, so here it is. A good example of what you'll hear is this First Antiphon for Sunday. This is at lot like Eastern Orthodox chant, but has elements of Western chant, too - it's lighter and more tuneful than most Orthodox chant I've heard, and doesn't use that low, low bass line.

At the bottom of the page, you'll find some music for Mattins and Vespers. Here's the chant of Psalm 103, "music in the Order of Vespers for Sundays after Pentecost," the festal melody. Quite pretty. There's really a ton of stuff over there, so enjoy.

Hat tip to Alexis Tančibok (who, if s/he has a blog, did not link it).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Codex Calixtinus

Which is something I found tonight in my search for a song I heard on an online video about Gregorian Chant.  [EDIT:  Alas, that video is no longer available on the web.  You can listen to a clip of this song, though, at this page; the singers are Discantus.]

The song is labeled "11th Century Gregorian Chant for Pilgrimage to St. James de Compostela."   It's a simply glorious chant (the French words below come from another site that's no longer up on the web):

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.
Alléluia, ô très saint Jacques,
Alléluia, intercède pour nous,
Alléluia, Alléluia.

J'ai invoqué le Seigneur
Et il m'a exaucé pour ma justice.
Quand j'étais dans la tribulation, tu m'as libéré.

Prends pitié de moi,
Et entends ma prière.

(St. James in Spanish is "Santiago"; in French, "Saint Jacques."  Here, "Iacobe" is the form used for "James"; the Latin above is the glorious Iacobe sanctissimemost holy St. James.)

While searching on that song, I came across the Codex Calixtinus, which sounds truly fascinating:
The Codex Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint James–, a jewel in medieval bibliography, is one of the richest medieval sources for historians, geographers, musicologists, sociologists, ethnologists, art historians and linguists. Due to its heterogeneous and composite character, this codex is believed to be the work of several authors and compilers. It is known as Codex Calixtinus not because this Pope had been one of its authors but on account of the extraordinary influence that he, his secretary and the people of Cluny had in the gestation of the work.


Codex Calixtinus is composed of 5 "libros" or sections:

Libro I (fols.4-139) contains sermons, liturgical texts and homilies for the liturgy of Saint James (Santiago), including numerous musical chants and two polyphonic settings written specifically for the new liturgy (fols. 101v-139). Book I is preceded by a bizarre and clearly spurious letter from Pope Calixtus (fols.1-3).

Libro II (fols.140-155), known as the "Book of Miracles," is a collection of 22 miracles credited to Saint James which had occurred in different areas of Europe.

Libro III (fols.156-162) narrates the moving of Saint James' body from Palestina to Compostela.

Libro IV (fols.163-191), or Historia Turpini, is a history of Charlemagne and Roland (Historia Karol Magni et Rotholandi). It has been falsely attributed to Turpin, Archbishop of Reims. Although this book was originally a part of the Codex Calixtinus, it was removed in 1620 and circulated widely as an independent unit. Luckily, as just mentioned, the book has now its original place in the codex.

Libro V (fols.192-225) is the very famous "Liber Peregrinationis" ("Guide of the Medieval Pilgrim") attributed to Aymeric Picaud. It is considered the oldest touristic guide of Europe. Musical settings (including plainsong and polyphonic conducti, tropes, and organa) follow on fols. 214-222. The codex ends with an appendix which has several poems and hymns related to Santiago.

Codex Calixtinus is a marvellous witness to the political, social, cultural, religious, musical and intellectual fabric of the medieval world. "The Guide of the Medieval Pilgrim", offering vivid descriptions of the different towns and people, their customs, habitat, character, organization, lingustic manners, and its unique fusion of franco-hispanic elements, is a beautiful ethnographic lesson. The music in the codex is a topic in itself and offers a wonderful snapshot of the state of music composition in the 12th century: the texts for St. James along with their accompanying monophonic tropes and sequences clearly illustrate how the liturgy was expanded and embellished for a new great feast day. The musical highpoint is its repertoire of polyphony; it includes the first known composition for three voices and serves as a vital bridge for the Notre Dame School. Without this repertoire our understanding of the birth and evolution of polyphony in the western world would be completely distorted.

Imagine all that! I'm very interested in this, especially in the singing; will write again on this, I imagine.

There are dozens of sites these days (I'm editing this 2007 post in 2013) describing the pilgrimage to St. James Campostela - including this Wikipedia page.   Indeed, there is now even a film about the pilgrimage, starring Martin Sheen.   This is an article at "" about Santiago de Compostela. 

This UK website of the Confraternity of St. James might be of interest as well; the Confraternity has been in existence since 1983, and has much to offer to those interested in the pilgrimage and its history. And here's a very interesting series of first-hand Mystery Worship Reports on the pilgrimage, via Ship of Fools.

You can get a CD of a selection of the pilgrimage music at the Discantus CD page.

Here's an image (photo by Wikipedia user E-roxo) of the facade of the Cathedral:

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Below are .gifs of an anthem we sang in May, the week before Pentecost. It's really an ancient Sequence hymn to be sung on the day of Pentecost; our Gregorian Schola sang it antiphonally - women's voices first, then men's, singing the same sequence of notes - as the Offertory. Matter of fact, I just now realized that I only know half of it: verses 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9!

Here's a little thing about the song:
"Veni Sancte Spiritus" ("Come, Holy Spirit") is the sequentia of the Mass for Pentecost, sung from Whitsunday until the Saturday following, although it is also in many Protestant hymnals. Composed of ten stanzas, this "Golden Sequence," as it's sometimes termed, is—from an hymnologist's perspective, although not a theologian's—slightly odd in being directed entirely to the third Person of the Trinity: most hymns are to the Father or the Son—there's simply more material available on which to base them. General consensus dates the hymn some time between the middle of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The translation below is not mine, but seems decent enough, though non-literal. Although some would chafe at the Elizabethan pronoun usage, it doesn't detract overmuch.

This is the translation we used:

Holy Spirit, Lord of light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure;
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill.

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay;
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend.

Give us comfort when we die,
Give us life with thee on high,
Give us joys that never end.


Here's an mp3 from the Brazilian monks.


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