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:


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