Tuesday, January 01, 2008

An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part V

[EDIT:   This article is from 2008, 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).]

Well, I've been reading the Brevier-Himnoj lately, just for kicks. That's, as I'm sure you recall, the listing of Hymns from the Breviary in Esperanto. And of course, in trying to figure out what the crazy thing says, I've come across some further items of interest - and some more hymn tunes, for all of our listening and singing pleasure.

  1. The Hymn for Sunday Lauds, for instance, Æterne rerum conditor ("Maker of all, eternal King"). Here's an mp3 of the hymn, sung in Latin; here are the words, at Thesaurus Precum Latinarum, which has this to say about it:
    This hymn (minus the final doxology) was written by St. Ambrose (340-397). The hymn is filled with Scriptural allusions and is one of the finest hymns in the Liturgy. Formerly it was used in the Roman Breviary at Sunday Lauds after Epiphany until Lent, and then again from September 28 until November 26. Today the hymn is used in the Liturgy of the Hours (less verses five and six) for Sunday Lauds on the first and third Sundays of the Psalter during Ordinary Time.

    The mp3 above comes from a page at the website of Projetto Raphael; alas, more translation issues! The URL of that site is Cantusfractus, which makes it obviously another chant site. Here's how Babelfish translates the intro page:
    The fratto song is a type of executed liturgico Christian song with values proporziona them: to the contrary of the so-called gregoriano the cantus fractus it often possesses a notation with mensurali elements, that it indicates with precision the value of notes.

    Draft of diffused in all Europe and a much testified repertorio from numerous liturgici books is manuscripts is to press, from the XIV to XX the century, that it regards three shapes of liturgico song above all: Credo, the hymns and the sequences. In the 1700's the phenomenon spreads and interests all the songs of the Ordinary of the Putting (Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus Of i).

    Of course. Google Translate, though, does a much better job:
    The hand fratto is a type of Christian liturgical song performed with proportional values: on the contrary, the so-called Gregorian cantus fractus have often with a notation elements mensurali, which indicates with precision the value of the notes.

    This is a repertoire widespread throughout Europe and witnessed by numerous liturgical books and manuscripts and printed from fourteenth to twentieth century, which covers mainly three forms of liturgical singing: I think, hymns and sequences. In the eighteenth century the phenomenon spreads and covers all the songs dell'Ordinario Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei).

    Bye-bye, Babelfish.

    That tune, BTW, matches up pretty well with the one used for Lauds hymns on all weekdays at the LLPB; they are variants of each other (there are a few notes that differ between them, and the rhythm is different in places as well), but it seems we have dependable musical information at this point. IOW, you could, if you so desired, use this tune to sing the hymn at Lauds every day, and you might not be far wrong, according to the tradition. I am more concerned, in any case, with giving examples of the actual music so that people can learn them, than I am in being precise with when, exactly, the hymns were used. That would differ from era to era and place to place anyway. More important is to hear and learn the tune itself, I think; that's what seems to be lacking at this point.

  2. Here is the mp3 for Caeli Deus sanctissime ("O God, Whose Hand Hath Spread the Sky"), found at this page at TPL:
    Attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604). This hymn continues with the theme of Creation present in the Vespers Hymns for Monday and Tuesday. Here the work of the fourth day, the creation of the heavenly bodies in the firmament, is chronicled (Gen 1, 14-19). This hymn is traditionally sung at Wednesday Vespers and is used in the Liturgia Horarum at Vespers for Wednesdays of the first and third weeks of the Psalter during Ordinary Time. Likewise the hymn is also found in the Roman Breviary for Wednesday Vespers.

  3. I posted, on January 1st, the Vespers hymn for the Feast of the Holy Name: Jesu Dulcis Memoria, "Ascribed to St.Bernard of Clairvaux, d.1153. / Mode 1." A "Vespers Hymn of the Holy Name." But I'll add it to this Compendium page, too; here is an mp3 file of the chant as sung by the Monks of Brazil, and here is the chant score:

    Here is the TPL description of the hymn:
    Iesu, Dulcis Memoria is a celebrated 12th century hymn attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Doctor Mellifluus. The entire hymn has some 42 to 53 stanzas depending upon the manuscript. Parts of this hymn were used for the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which was formerly celebrated on the Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany, or failing such a Sunday, on January 2. The part below was used at Vespers. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was deleted, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial on January 3. Similarly the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary was restored as an optional memorial on September 12 in the revised Missal.

    And here, from the same page, are the English words:
    JESU, the very thought of Thee,
    with sweetness fills my breast,
    but sweeter far Thy face to see,
    and in Thy presence rest.

    Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
    nor can the memory find
    a sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
    o Savior of mankind!.

    O hope of every contrite heart
    o joy of all the meek,
    to those who fall, how kind Thou art!
    how good to those who seek!

    But what to those who find? Ah this
    nor tongue nor pen can show:
    the love of Jesus, what it is
    none but His loved ones know.

    Jesu, our only joy be Thou,
    As Thou our prize wilt be:
    Jesu, be Thou our glory now,
    And through eternity.

  4. While we're in the category of Major Feast Days, might as well go ahead and post the mp3 for the Granddaddy of Office Hymns, Veni, Creator Spiritus; here's the TPL page, and here's the description there:
    One of the most widely used hymns in the Church, Veni, Creator Spiritus, is attributed to Rabanus Maurus (776-856). It is used at Vespers, Pentecost, Dedication of a Church, Confirmation, and Holy Orders and whenever the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it. A plenary indulgence is granted if it is recited on January 1st or on the feast of Pentecost.

    There's another, longer version of the hymn at the same Projetto Raphael page - and I notice, anyway, that there are some minor musical differences in the hymn as sung on these mp3s and the version I know It would be interesting to know what that's about.

  5. Some very good news! The Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood now has a "Sung Propers" section, which seems to be continuously updated, and in which is included:

    All of the music for all of the hymns will be right there for the listening; it's really a tremendous resource.

    For a quick example, here's an mp3 of another version of the English words for Jesu, Dulcis Memoria, from the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood's "Seasonal Propers Sung" page (listed under "Hymn at Vespers for the Circumcision and the name of Jesus.") Wow.

  6. Since the Feast of Epiphany will be in just a few short days, I'll make immediate use of the LLPB listing for that day: this mp3 labeled "Hymn for the Epiphany of our Lord". And a very pretty, melismatic hymn it is, too; the words for this version are taken from the Lutheran Hymnal:
    1. The star proclaims the King is here;
    But, Herod, why this senseless fear?
    He takes no realms of earth away
    Who gives the realms of heavenly day.

    2. The wiser Magi see from far
    And follow on His guiding star;
    And led by light, to light they press
    And by their gifts their God confess.

    3. Within the Jordan's crystal flood
    In meekness stands the Lamb of God
    And, sinless, sanctifies the wave,
    Mankind from sin to cleanse and save.

    4. At Cana first His power is shown;
    His might the blushing waters own
    And, changing as He speaks the word,
    Flow wine, obedient to their Lord.

    5. All glory, Jesus, be to Thee
    For this Thy glad epiphany;
    Whom with the Father we adore
    And Holy Ghost forevermore.

    A note there indicates that the version is:
    Hymn #131
    Text: Matt. 2:9
    Author: Coelius Sedulius, c.450
    Translated by: John M. Neale, 1852, alt.
    Titled: "Hostis Herodes impie"
    Tune: "Wo Gott zum Haus"
    1st Published in: _Geistliche Lieder_
    Town: Wittenberg, 1535

    This matches up with what's found at TPL under the listing Hostis Herodes impie:
    Written by Caelius Sedulius (5th cent). This hymn is a continuation of the hymn A solis ortus cardine and is used for Vespers on Epiphany.

    Under that listing, you find this note:
    Written by Coelius Sedulius (d c 450) in iambic dimeter. This hymn, which is used for Lauds during the Christmas season, is the first seven verses of a much longer alphabetic hymn. Four other verses form a second hymn, Hostis Herodes impie which is used for Epiphany.

    The mp3 above seems to be mix-n-match from those two listings; I'm going to research the "longer alphabetic hymn" at some point.

    Simply for interest, I include a recording of a choir singing a song labeled Hostis Herodes impie; it is indeed the same tune as A solis ortus cardine.

That's enough for this edition, I think.

Move forward to An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part VI. Or, go back to An Office Hymn Compendium, Part IV.

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