Saturday, November 03, 2007

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi, bls -

I'm Howard Burkett (I sometimes post at Father Jake's and at Madpriest's site, and some others, as Oriscus), and I'm the music editor and assistant director for the Compline Choir at St Dave's in Austin.

I'm honored that you would link to our occasional recordings - I'll let Susan Richter (the one responsible) know her work is getting out there.

If you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to ask. My email is hpb (at) hotmail (dot) com. If you are not already on the Anglican-Music listserv, I can also forward you our monthly music lists.

bls said...

Thanks for taking the time to leave me a note, Howard. It's very nice to hear from you - and BTW thanks a million for posting those recordings. The traffic on this blog has increased at least 100% since I started posting these hymns and sung Psalms; people come from all over the world, literally, and spend a long time, sometimes, listening to many of these files. You are performing a valuable service for lots of people, I think.

And BTW you guys are great! I would be interested in the Anglican-Music listserv; will email you about that soon.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again yourself, bls -

OBTW - does that Antiphonale-from-a-community-that-doesn't-publish-one you keep scanning pages from have a setting of the (new) proper Antiphon on the Magnificat for the Friday after Ash Wednesday? We're doing a guest Vespers at St-Louis-the-King (RC)here in Austin on Feb 8, and that's the only proper I ha'nt got nailed yet.

It's Cum auferetur ab eis sponsus, or in the English of the Monistic Diurnal Revised, "The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from the, and then they will fast."

bls said...

I'll take a look at what I have, Howard, and let you know.

bls said...

BTW, meantime, check this page at Derek's blog. Fr. John-Julian, prior of the Order of Julian of Norwich, has made many of their chant books available in PDF form.

It might be there, and if not, you might find other stuff you're interested in....

bls said...

Howard, I have some images of the Vespers Antiphons for Lent now - both for Psalms and for Magnificat - but not that one.

The one for Magnificat for Friday goes like this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, to redeem all creation." If you want it, I'll scan it and send it to you, or post it here (which I may do anyway).


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