Thursday, May 31, 2012



     Listen sweet Dove unto my song,
     And spread thy golden wings in me;
     Hatching my tender heart so long,
Till it get wing, and flie away with thee.

     Where is that fire which once descended
     On thy Apostles? thou didst then
     Keep open house, richly attended,
Feasting all comers by twelve chosen men.

     Such glorious gifts thou didst bestow,
     That th’ earth did like a heav’n appeare;
     The starres were coming down to know
If they might mend their wages, and serve here.

     The sunne, which once did shine alone,
     Hung down his head, and wisht for night,
     When he beheld twelve sunnes for one
Going about the world, and giving light.

     But since those pipes of gold, which brought
     That cordiall water to our ground,
     Were cut and martyr’d by the fault
Of those, who did themselves through their side wound,

     Thou shutt’st the doore, and keep’st within;
     Scarce a good joy creeps through the chink:
     And if the braves of conqu’ring sinne
Did not excite thee, we should wholly sink.

     Lord, though we change, thou art the same;
     The same sweet God of love and light:
     Restore this day, for thy great name,
Unto his ancient and miraculous right. 

- George Herbert (from The Temple (1633))

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Offertory for the Feast of the Visitation: Beata Es, Virgo Maria

That's tomorrow, May 31; here the offertory is sung by the Cantarte Regensburg:

Here are the Latin and English words, from CPDL:
Beata es, Virgo María, quae omnium portasti Creatorem: genuisti qui te fecit, et in aeternum permanes virgo, Alleluia.

Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things: thou didst bring forth Him Who made thee, and remainest forever a virgin. Alleluia.

Here's the full chant score:

The story of the Visitation comes from Luke 1:39-56 - and contains some of the most wonderful writing in the Gospels, including the words for the Magnificat:
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Interestingly, Oremus Bible footnotes this, at the point of the asterisk above, with: "Other ancient authorities read Elizabeth"!  That's totally fascinating, to me.  Of course, the Magnificat was originally cribbed, anyway, from the song of Hannah from 1 Samuel 2:1-10:

Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.’

Here's Tomás Luis de Victoria's beautiful polyphonic setting:

Wikipedia says this image is "The Embrace of Elizabeth and the Virgin Mary," from St. George Church, Kurbinovo, Macedonia, and dates from 1191:

Discendi, amor santo

Here's the full text, in Italian, of Bianco da Siena's XXXVth poem in his Laudi Spirituali; the Laudi were written in the 14th or 15th century, and then published as a book in 1851.  It's not known when da Siena was born, or when, exactly, these Laudi were written; it is known that he died in or around 1434.  The Anglo-Irish clergyman, Richard Frederick Littledale, translated this poem for "Come Down, O Love Divine" in the 19th century.
1. Discendi, amor santo,
Visita la mie mente
Del tuo amore ardente,
Si che di te m’infiammi tutto quanto.

2. Vienne, consolatore,
Nel mio cuor veramente:
Del tuo ardente amore
Ardel veracemente:
Del tuo amor cocente
Si forte sie ferito:
Vada come smarrito
Dentro e di fuore ardendo tutto quanto.

3. Arda sì fortemente
Che tutto mi consume,
Si che veracemente
Lassi mondan costumi:
Li splendienti lumi
Lucenti, illuminanti
Mi stien sempre davanti,
Per li quali mi vesta il vero manto.

4. E ‘l manto chi’ i’ mi vesta
Sie la carità santa:
Sott’ una bigia vesta
Umilità si canta,
La qual mai non si vanta
Per se nullo ben fare,
Non si sa inalzare,
Ma nel profondo scende con gran pianto.

5. Nel fondo più profondo
Discende nel suo cuore:
Di ciascun uom del mondo
Sè  ved’ esser minore:
Non si cura d’ onore,
Ma le vergogne brama:
Di se vendetta chiama,
0dia se stesso sempre in ogni canto.

6. Se dagli altri è inalzato
Nel cuor sempre discende,
Del ben che ‘gli ha, ingrato
Sè esser sempre intende.
Chi tale stato prende
Già ma’ non può perire:
Vita si gli è ‘l morire,
Morendo vive e vivend’ è poi santo.

7. In queste duo colonne
Si ferman gli amaderi,
Perchè sôn le madonnne
Sopra l’ altre migliori:
Chi ben c’è ferm’, ardori
Sì grandi sente al cuore,
Che grida per amore,
Che sostener nol può, si è tamanto.

8. Sì grande è quel disio
Ch’ allor l’ anima sente,
Che dir nol sapre’ io,
A ciò non son potente:
Nulla  umana mente
Entender nol potria,
Se nol gustasse  pria
Per la vertù dello Spirito Santo.
               Deo gratias. Amen.

You can always try Google Translate on this; when I did, I got information about the Holy Spirit's "love of baking" - and something about the Secretary of State!   I'm going, eventually, to try to translate the entire Lauda myself; meantime here's the shorter - but very beautiful - Littledale version used for the hymn "Come Down, O Love Divine".
Come down, O love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
Shall far out pass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace, till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

Da Siena (whose given name, apparently, was Bianco dall' Anciolin) was a member of the Jesuati, a mystical religious order - a lay order, as far as I can tell - founded by Giovanni Colombini in the 14th Century.  Here's Wikipedia on that movement:

The Jesuati (Jesuates) were a religious order founded by Giovanni Colombini of Siena in 1360. The order was initially called Clerici apostolici Sancti Hieronymi (Apostolic Clerics of Saint Jerome)[1] because of a special veneration for St. Jerome and the apostolic life the founders led[2].
Colombini had been a prosperous merchant and a senator in his native
city, but, coming under ecstatic religious influences, abandoned secular
affairs and his wife and daughter (after making provision for them),
and with a friend of like temperament, Francesco Miani, gave himself to a life of apostolic poverty, penitential discipline, hospital service and public preaching.

The name Jesuati was given to Colombini and his disciples from the habit of calling loudly on the name of Jesus
at the beginning and end of their ecstatic sermons. The senate banished
Colombini from Siena for imparting foolish ideas to the young men of
the city, and he continued his mission in Arezzo and other places, only to be honourably recalled home on the outbreak of the bubonic plague. Howard Eves[3] writes that the order was then "dedicated to nursing and burying the victims of the rampant bubonic plague."

He went out to meet Urban V on his return from Avignon to Rome
in 1367, and craved his sanction for the new order and a distinctive
habit. Before this was granted Colombini had to clear the movement of a
suspicion that it was connected with the heretical sect of Fraticelli,
and he died on July 31, 1367, soon after the papal approval had been
given. The guidance of the new order, whose members (all lay brothers)
gave themselves entirely to works of mercy, devolved upon Miani.

Their rule of life, originally a compound of Benedictine and Franciscan elements, was later modified on Augustinian lines, but traces of the early penitential idea persisted, e.g. the wearing of sandals and a daily flagellation. Paul V
in 1606 arranged for a small proportion of clerical members, and later
in the 17th century the Jesuati became so secularized that the members
were known as the Aquavitae Fathers. Eves[3] writes, "certain abuses, apparently involving the manufacture and sale of distilled liquors in a manner not sanctioned by Canon Law, crept in. This, along with a difficulty in maintaining a reasonable membership quota, led to the order's abolishment by Pope Clement IX in 1668."

Mathematician Bonaventura Cavalieri was a member from the age of fifteen until his death.[3]

The female branch of the order, the Jesuati sisters, founded by Caterina Colombini (d. 1387) in Siena, and thence widely dispersed, more consistently maintained the primitive strictness of the society and survived the male branch by 200 years, existing until 1872 in small communities in Italy.
Here's more about Colombini, from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Founder of the Congregation of Jesuati; b. at Siena, Upper Italy,
about 1300; d. on the way to Acquapendente, 31 July, 1367. There was
nothing in his early life to indicate the presence in his character of
any unusual seeds of holiness. Belonging to an old patrician family, he
devoted himself, like thousands of his class in Italy, to commerce,
swelled his already substantial fortune, and rose to a position of great
prominence and influence among his fellow-citizens, who on several
occasions elected him gonfalonier. Fortunate in his marriage, of
which two children -- Peter and Angela -- were the fruit, his private
life was marred by his avarice, his ambition, and his proneness to
anger. One day, while still suffering under a sense of mortification
after one of his passionate outbursts occasioned by a petty domestic
disappointment, he chanced to take up a biography of St. Mary of Egypt,
whose later life had been as conspicuous for penance as her earlier had
been for sin. The perusal of this narrative brought a new light into his
fife; henceforth ambition and anger gave way to an almost incredible
humility and meekness. The great transformation of his life extended to
his business affairs, and excited in the purely mercenary-minded a
ridicule easy to understand. Heedless, however, of raillery, he did not
rest content with selling cheaper than any other merchant, but persisted
in paying more for his purchases than the sum demanded. With the
consent of his wife he soon abandoned his former patrician associates,
visited hospitals, tended the sick, and made large donations to the
poor. Then casting aside the clothes usual to his station, he assumed
the garments of the most indigent, and, having fallen ill and believing
himself treated with too much delicacy at home, deserted his luxurious
house for the ordinary ward of a poor hospital. His relations urged him
to return, and finally elicited his consent on the condition that
thenceforth he would be given only the coarser forms of nourishment.
Nursed back to health, he insisted on making his house the refuge of the
needy and the suffering, washing their feet with his own hands,
dispensing to them bodily and spiritual comfort, leaving nothing undone
that the spirit of charity could suggest. Among the wonders recorded to
have taken in this abode of Christian mercy was the miraculous
disappearance of a leper, leaving the room permeated with an
indescribable fragrance.

It required eight years to render his wife reconciled to the
extraordinary philanthropy of her husband. His son having meanwhile died
and his daughter taken the veil, Colombini with the approval of his
wife, on whom he first settled a life-annuity, divided his fortune into
three parts: the first went to endow a hospital, the second and third to
two cloisters. Together with his friend Francisco Mini, who had been
associated with him in all charitable labours, Colombini lived
henceforward a life of apostolic poverty, begged for his daily bread,
and esteemed it a favour to be allowed to wait on the sick poor, while
in public and in their dwellings he stimulated the people to penance. He
was soon joined by three of the Piccolomini and by members of other
patrician families, who likewise distributed all their goods among the
poor. Alarmed at these occurrences, many of the Sienese now raised an
outcry, complaining that Colombini was inciting all the most promising
young men of the city to "folly", and succeeded in procuring his
banishment. Accompanied by twenty-five companions, Colombini left his
native city without a protest and visited in succession Arezzo, Città di
Castello, Pisa and many other Tuscan cities, making numerous
conversions, reconciling sundered friends, and effecting the return of
much property to its rightful owners. An epidemic which broke out at
Siena shortly after his departure, was generally regarded as a heavenly
chastisement for his banishment, and there was a universal clamour for
his recall. Regardless alike of derision and insult, he resumed on his
return his former charitable occupations, in his humility rejoicing to
perform the most menial services at houses where he had once been an
honoured guest.
 And this, from New Advent:, from the "Italian Literature" page:

[The fourteenth] century in Italy, as elsewhere, is the golden age of vernacular ascetical and mystical literature, producing a rich harvest of translations from the Scriptures and the Fathers, of spiritual letters, sermons, and religious treatises no less remarkable for their fervour and unction than for their linguistic value. From the earliest years of the Trecento have come down the sermons of the Dominican, B. Giordano da Rivalto (died 1311). The exquisite "Fioretti di San Francesco", now known to be a translation from the Latin, date from about 1328. Prominent among the spiritual writers, who thus set themselves to open the Church's treasury to the unlearned, are the Augustinians,
B. Simone Fidati da Cascia (died 1348) and Giovanni da Salerno (died
1388), whose works have been edited by P. Nicola Mattioli; and the Dominicans, Domenico Cavalca, a copious translator, and Jacopo Passavanti (died 1357), whose "Specchio della Vera Penitenza" is a model of style and language.

The admirable letters of B. Giovanni Colombini (died 1367) and the mystical lyrics of his follower, Bianco dall' Anciolina (El Bianco da Siena), have the glowing fervour, the Divine madness, of the first Franciscans. In a less exalted vein, the epistles of the monk of Vallombrosa, B. Giovanni dalle Celle (died 1396), extend from the forties to the nineties of the century. Supreme above them all, a figure worthy, from the mere literary point of view, to stand by Dante and Petrarca, is St. Catherine of Siena (1347-80), whose "Dialogo" is the greatest mystical work in prose in the Italian language, and whose "Letters" have hardly been surpassed in the annals of Christianity.
Christian mysticism bloomed during the Middle Ages - and was particularly strong during the 13th-16th centuries - all over Europe (and perhaps elsewhere - something I'll look at at some point).  Here's more from Wikimedia about mysticism during this period:

The Early Middle Ages in the West includes the work of Gregory the Great and Bede, as well as developments in Celtic Christianity and Anglo-Saxon Christianity, and comes to fulfillment in the work of Johannes Scotus Eriugena and the Carolingian Renaissance.

The High Middle Ages
saw a flourishing of mystical practice and theorization corresponding
to the flourishing of new monastic orders, with such figures as Guigo II, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, the Victorines, and Bonaventure, all coming from different orders, as well as the first real flowering of popular piety among the laypeople.

The Late Middle Ages saw the growth of groups of mystics centered around geographic regions: the Beguines, such as Mechthild of Magdeburg and Hadewijch (among others); the Rhineland mystics Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler and Henry Suso; and the English mystics Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and Julian of Norwich. This period also saw such individuals as John of Ruysbroeck, Catherine of Siena and Catherine of Genoa, the Devotio Moderna, and such books as the Theologia Germanica, The Cloud of Unknowing and The Imitation of Christ.
More about medieval mysticism - and about Littledale - to come.

Meanwhile, below is an image of part of a fresco by Giusto de' Menabuoi (a follower of Giotti di Bondone) around the time that Bianco da Siena lived and perhaps wrotehis Laudi Spirituali; it's a detail of Paradiso, from 1376-78, painted on the ceiling of the Baptistry in Padua, Italy.

Here's an image of one of the amazing walls of the same baptistry:

Here's a photo of the Padua Cathedral; the Baptistry's on the right:

A bit later, around 1435 (da Siena died in 1434), Flemish artist Rogier van der Weyden painted "The Descent from the Cross," now hanging in the Prado in Madrid.

And here's "Come Down, O Love Divine" again, sung by the Kings' College Choir:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Come Down, O Love Divine"

Listen to the best hymn ever written*, sung by the King's College Choir.

Text via Bianco da Siena (14th C.) and translated by Anglo-Irish clergyman, Richard Frederick Littledale ; music by R.V. Williams (20th C.). And another example of the fantastic music that Pentecost has inspired.  (See more about this beautiful hymn, and the complete Bianco da Siena poem, at Discendi, amor santo.)

Come down, O love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near, within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn, till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let Thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
Shall far out pass the power of human telling;
For none can guess its grace, till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

* Well, one of, anyway.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Pentecost Matins Responsory: Loquebantur variis linguis

Loquebantur variis linguis is the Responsory after the second lesson at Matins of the Feast of Pentecost. This video gives, I think, the chant for that Responsory, and then a piece called Paraclitus egrediens; I'm not sure exactly what the second piece is, or what its liturgical function might have been, but it's another of those interesting medieval chants from Hungary.  I really have to look into that at some point!

Anyway, the chant - and very, very pretty it is, too:

Loquebantur variis linguis
apostoli, Alleluia.
Magnalia Dei, Alleluia.
Repleti sunt omnes Spiritu Sancto,
et coeperunt loqui:
Magnalia Dei, Alleluia.
Gloria Patri et Filio,
et Spiritui Sancto.

The apostles were speaking
in different tongues, Alleluia,
of the great works of God, Alleluia.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and they began to speak of
the great works of God, Alleluia.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.

The blurb at the YouTube page says this, in Hungarian:

Schola Hungarica vezényel:
Dobszay László
Szendrei Janka

Részlet a Schola Hungarica Magyar Gregoriánum 2. Advent - Karácsony - Pünkösd c. hanglemezéről
Kép: Pünkösd (Bambergi Apokalipszis, XI. század)

Google Translate does pretty well with that, as far as I can tell:

Schola Hungarica conducted by:
Laszlo Dobszay
Janka Szendrei

Excerpt from the Schola Hungarica, the Hungarian second Gregoriánum Advent - Christmas - Pentecost c. sound drive

Picture: Pentecost (Bamberg Apocalypse, XI century.)

Here's the second lesson in its entirely from

Lesson ii
Sed ecce, si unusquísque vestrum requirátur an díligat Deum : tota fidúcia et secúra mente respóndet, Díligo.  In ipso autem lectiónis exórdio audístis quid Véritas dicit : Si quis díligit me, sermónem meum servábit.  Probátio ergo dilectiónis, exhibítio est óperis.  Hinc in epístola sua idem Joánnes dicit : Qui dicit : Díligo Deum, et mandáta ejus non custódit, mendax est.  Vere étenim Deum dilígimus et mandáta ejus custodímus, si nos a nostris voluptátibus coarctámus.  Nam qui adhuc per illícita desidéria díffluit, profécto Deum non amat : quia ei in sua voluntáte contradícit.
But, behold now, if I shall ask any one of you whether he loveth God, he will answer will all boldness and quietness of spirit : I do love him.  But at the very beginning of this day's Lesson from the Gospel, ye have heard what the Truth saith : If a man love me, he will keep my word.  The test, then, of love, is whether it is shewed by works.  Hence the same John hath said in his Epistle : If a man say, I love God, and keepeth not his commandments, he is a liar.  Then do we indeed love God, and keep his commandments, if we deny ourselves the gratification of our appetites.  Whosoever still wandereth after unlawful desires, such an one plainly loveth not God, for he saith, Nay, to that which God willeth.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  Repléti sunt omnes Spíritu Sancto : et cœpérunt loqui, prout Spíritus Sanctus dabat éloqui illis : * Et convénit multitúdo dicéntium, allelúja.
V.  Loquebántur váriis linguis Apóstoli magnália Dei.
R.  Et convénit multitúdo dicéntium, allelúja.
V.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R.  Et convénit multitúdo dicéntium, allelúja.
R.  They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak as the Spirit gave them utterance : * And the multitude came together, singing Alleluia.
V.  The Apostles did speak in other tongues the wonderful works of God.
R.  And the multitude came together, singing Alleluia.
V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  And the multitude came together, singing Alleluia.

I'm not sure where the lesson itself comes from, but Lesson 1 is from Gregory the Great's 30th Gospel Homily, so perhaps Lesson 2 continues that reading.  I don't have the book, and it doesn't seem to be online anywhere.

Now, as for Paraclitus egrediens:  there's something in this Google Book (Music as Concept and Practice in the Late Middle Ages) about it, and a reference to Czech medieval music; perhaps Jakub will come along and let us know more.  And that book does look interesting; I'm going to have a look myself in any case.

Here's Thomas Tallis' version, sung by the Tallis Singers:

A shorter version of this text is also used as an antiphon at Lauds and at First and Second Vespers of Pentecost, and also as the Alleluia on the Feast of St. Mark.  Very beautiful, all around.

It's interesting to me that Mary figures so prominently in much of the art for Pentecost; anybody know where that tradition comes from?  It's not Biblical, at any rate - but I'm glad of it. [EDIT: Well, it is Biblical, as Grotheer Shull notes in comments: 'The description of Pentecost in Acts itself begins: "When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind..." That doesn't identifiy who they "all" are, but in the previous chapter of Acts it talks about them getting together to meet in the upper room, and lists "Mary, mother of Jesus" among the people meeting for prayer, which would make it rather likely she was there later when they were assembled again.' Thanks, Grotheer!]

And of course, I can't put up a post for Pentecost without posting a video of the Sequence - probably my favorite of all Gregorian hymns (and Pentecost has some really great ones!):

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.


The Troparion of Pentecost (Georgian chant, "K'urtkheul khar shen")

Another Pentecost treat: some lovely Georgian chant.

From the YouTube page:
Troparion of Pentecost, sung by the choir of the convent of Sameba-Jikheti. It can be found on their CD "Chant melodies."

"Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit - through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee!"
I just love Orthodox hymnody! The texts are always splendid. Here's a PDF of the same text (although not, I think, the same music), from the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North American.

According to OrthodoxWiki:
A Troparion (also tropar; plural troparia) is a type of hymn in Byzantine music, in the Orthodox Church and other Eastern Christian churches. It is a short hymn of one stanza, or one of a series of stanzas; this may carry the further connotation of a hymn interpolated between psalm verses.

The term most often refers to the apolytikion (or "dismissal hymn"), the thematic hymn which closes Vespers. (In Greek churches, the apolytikion troparion is known simply as the apolytikion; in most other churches, it is known simply as the troparion.) This troparion serves as a thematic hymn and is repeated at every service of the day.

Troparia are also found as the stanzas of canons. Such troparia are modeled on the irmoi of the ode.

Troparia are also sometimes used as refrains for chanted psalm verses, though stichera more often serve this function.
Another kind of hymn is the Kontakion:
A Kontakion (also kondakion, kondak, and kontak; plural kontakia, kondakia) is a type of thematic hymn in the Orthodox Church and other Eastern Christian churches. Originally, the kontakion was an extended homily in verse consisting of one or two proemia (preliminary stanzas) followed by several strophes called oikoi (also ikoi; singular oikos, ikos), usually between 18 and 24. The kontakia were so long that the text was rolled up on a pole for use in the services -- the genesis of the name kontakion, which means "from the pole" in Greek. It is typical of the form that each of the proemia and strophes end with the same refrain. Acrostics are also a hallmark of this hymnographic form.

In current practice, the kontakion has been greatly abbreviated. Only the (first) proemium and first strophe are sung or read after the sixth ode of the canon at orthros. The proemium alone is sung at the Divine Liturgy, following the troparia, and most other services of the daily cycle. The kontakion is not sung at vespers.

According to tradition, Saint Roman the Melodist wrote the first kontakion, the Kontakion for the Birth of Our Lord, by divine inspiration. Legend aside, Roman established the kontakion in the form it retained for centuries, and he is the most famous composer of kontakia.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Magnificat from the Gloucester Service (Herbert Howells)

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

“The Brothers of Clear Creek”

From the March issue of the magazine Oklahoma Today

“The Brothers of Clear Creek” portfolio by Tulsa photographer Shane Brown earns Oklahoma Today’s second Wilbur Award.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (March 9, 2012) – Oklahoma Today magazine was named a winner of a 2012 Wilbur Award from the Religious Communicators Council for the portfolio “The Brothers of Clear Creek” in its November/December 2011 issue. Tulsa photographer Shane Brown shot the portfolio during several visits to the Clear Creek Monastery near Hulbert, Oklahoma. Additional awardees this year include Entertainment Weekly, CBS News Sunday Morning, and the feature film The Help.

“What appealed to me about shooting at the monastery is that I was exposed to so much different cultural practice,” said Brown. “I’m an observer, and the camera is the perfect tool for that.”

One of the challenges Brown faced in photographing the Benedictine monks who live at Clear Creek, which is the only traditional men’s contemplative Benedictine monastery in the United States, was the monks’ de-emphasis on the individual. Many of Brown’s photos show the men’s hands engaged in various acts of work and worship―feeding sheep, creating icons, and stringing beads together for a rosary.

“We are honored to receive the Wilbur Award for Shane Brown’s beautiful portfolio of life at Clear Creek Monastery,” said Oklahoma Today editor Steffie Corcoran. “Shane’s photos speak eloquently to the quiet universality of faith.”

Brown holds a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the University of Oklahoma. He has been a professional photographer for more than twelve years and also has worked as a cinematographer. In addition to Oklahoma Today, Brown’s clients include The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and This Land Press.

The Wilbur Award is given to secular media outlets for excellence in communicating religious ideals, issues, and themes and is awarded by the Religious Communicators Council. Past magazine recipients of the award include The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, and Playboy. This is Oklahoma Today’s second Wilbur Award; the first was in 1998. Copies of the issue and a .pdf of the article are available at

Oklahoma Today, the Magazine of Oklahoma since 1956, focuses on the people, places, and culture of Oklahoma. A paid circulation magazine, it has subscribers in every state and many foreign countries. It is published bimonthly by the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department. For more information, visit
Clear Creek is a new monastery, and is still under construction.  I've written about the monks before; click the image on this page to see a video from about four years ago.  This is from the home page of their website:
Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in the diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was founded in 1999 by Notre-Dame de Fontgombault, a French Abbey which belongs to the Solesmes Congregation, as does Clear Creek. The Patron Saint of Clear Creek Abbey is the Blessed Virgin Mary under the mystery of her Annunciation. See origins for a complete history.

Like the other monasteries of the Solesmes Congregation, Clear Creek Abbey belongs to those institutes of religious life entirely dedicated to contemplative prayer, without apostolic works. A particular emphasis is placed on the solemn celebration of the liturgy.

It is part of the Solesmes tradition to cultivate a solemn, public liturgical Office. The monks of Clear Creek Abbey celebrate God's glory in Latin, so appropriate to give an idea of God's majesty, a sense of the sacred. Thus the monks exploit the riches developed over centuries in the Church's liturgy and cultivate Gregorian chant.

Clear Creek, which attained Abbey status in 2010, is also offering a chant weekend this fall.  You can listen to some chant samples linked from this page, where some of the monks' recordings are available for purchase.

Here's an mp3 of the Christmas Responsory Quem Vidistis; here's the sequence hymn Ave Maria.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The 1st Alleluia and Offertory for Ascension: Ascendit Deus ("God has gone up")

Ascendit Deus ("God has gone up") is the text for both the first Alleluia and the Offertory for Ascension Day.

Here's the Alleluia, sung by St. Stephen's House, Oxford:

Here's the chant score:

And here's the Offertory, sung by the Schola Cantorum Of Amsterdam Students:

Here's the chant score:

The text for both propers comes from Psalm 47; here's the JoguesChant translation (and here's an mp3 of the Offertory from their site):
God has gone up amidst shouts of joy, the Lord to the sound of the trumpet, alleluia

The Feast of the Ascension is forty days after Easter; it commemorates Christ's ascension to heaven post-Resurrection. The story is hinted at in Luke 24:31 and told fully in Acts 1:1-11; it's mentioned in Mark 16:19, too (although it's one of the disputed verses (9-20) in Mark 16). New Advent says of the Feast of the Ascension that:
The observance of this feast is of great antiquity. Although no documentary evidence of it exists prior to the beginning of the fifth century, St. Augustine says that it is of Apostolic origin, and he speaks of it in a way that shows it was the universal observance of the Church long before his time. Frequent mention of it is made in the writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and in the Constitution of the Apostles. The Pilgrimage of Sylvia (Peregrinatio Etheriae) speaks of the vigil of this feast and of the feast itself, as they were kept in the church built over the grotto in Bethlehem in which Christ was born (Duchesne, Christian Worship, 491-515). It may be that prior to the fifth century the fact narrated in the Gospels was commemorated in conjunction with the feast of Easter or Pentecost. Some believe that the much-disputed forty-third decree of the Council of Elvira (c. 300) condemning the practice of observing a feast on the fortieth day after Easter and neglecting to keep Pentecost on the fiftieth day, implies that the proper usage of the time was to commemorate the Ascension along with Pentecost. Representations of the mystery are found in diptychs and frescoes dating as early as the fifth century.

Certain customs were connected with the liturgy of this feast, such as the blessing of beans and grapes after the Commemoration of the Dead in the Canon of the Mass, the blessing of first fruits, afterwards done on Rogation Days, the blessing of a candle, the wearing of mitres by deacon and subdeacon, the extinction of the paschal candle, and triumphal processions with torches and banners outside the churches to commemorate the entry of Christ into heaven. Rock records the English custom of carrying at the head of the procession the banner bearing the device of the lion and at the foot the banner of the dragon, to symbolize the triumph of Christ in His ascension over the evil one. In some churches the scene of the Ascension was vividly reproduced by elevating the figure of Christ above the altar through an opening in the roof of the church. In others, whilst the figure of Christ was made to ascend, that of the devil was made to descend.

In the liturgies generally the day is meant to celebrate the completion of the work of our salvation, the pledge of our glorification with Christ, and His entry into heaven with our human nature glorified.

Here, from, are all the Mass Propers for Ascension, sung by the Sao Paulo Benedictines:
In Ascensione Domini
Introitus: Act. 1, 11; Ps. 46 Viri Galilæi (2m48.4s - 2635 kb) score here
Alleluia: Ps. 46, 6 Ascendit Deus (1m50.2s - 1725 kb) score here
Alleluia: Ps. 67, 18.19 Dominus in Sina (2m33.9s - 2409 kb) score here
Offertorium: Ps. 46, 6 Ascendit Deus (1m33.8s - 1469 kb MONO due to problems with my recording setscore here
(anno A)Mt. 28, 18.19 Data est mihi (1m21.9s - 1283 kb) score here
(anno B)Mc. 16, 17.18 Signa (1m05.5s - 1027 kb)
(anno C)  Ps. 67, 33.34 Psallite Domino (59.0s - 925 kb MONO due to problems with my recording setscore here

You can read other posts about the day's propers on Chantblog as well:

And don't forget to read Full Homely Divinity's article on Ascension.

Several composers have set this text to music, including Jacobus Gallus (sung here by The Summer Singers of Minneapolis, Minnesota):

Here, The Brethren sing Jackson Berkey's setting:

And who could resist the Giuseppe Giordani version?:

Gerald Finzi's (epic!) English setting, "God is gone up," is perhaps the best known of all; it starts at about 3:20 on the video below (brought to you by the Choir of St John's College). But first, you get Stanford's Justorum Animae (from Three Latin Motets), as a bonus!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Easter Day: Pascha Nostrum

Pascha Nostrum ("Our Passover") is the Alleluia for Easter Day. Here's a beautiful version chanted by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fontgombault (France):


Pascha Nostrum
is also the Communion Hymn for Easter Day. Here it is sung by the Gloriæ Dei Cantores Schola:

The text for both comes from 1 Corinthians 5, v. 7-8:
7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Here's William Byrd's polyphonic version of the Communio text:

Here's another version of the shorter Alleluia text, by Léonin (1150 - 1201?); this was recorded by the Early Music Consort of London in 1975 (it says).

 Don't quite know what this "Medieval Chant of the Cathedral of Benevento" (sung by Ensemble Organum)  is. Beautiful, though!

Here's the full list of propers for Easter Day at

Dominica Paschæ in Resurrectione Domini

Ad Missam in Die
Introitus: Ps. 138, 18.5.6 et 1-2 Resurrexi (cum Gloria Patri)(5m29.3s - 5148 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 117, 24 et 1 Hæc dies... V. Confitemini (2m58.6s - 2794 kb) score
Alleluia: 1 Cor. 5, 7 Pascha nostrum (1m59.3s - 1866 kb) score
Sequentia: Victimæ paschali laudes (1m36.6s - 1510 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 75, 9.10 Terra tremuit (1m21.9s - 1282 kb) score
Communio: 1 Cor. 5, 7.8 Pascha nostrum (1m25.2s - 1334 kb) score
ad dimitendum populum: Ite, Missa est (28.7s - 451 kb) score

And here are posts for most of these on Chantblog:

Friday, May 11, 2012

"The enormous lovesick longing of the psalmist's praise...."

From Faith and Theology: "Psalms for all seasons: a contemporary psalter" (my bolding below, because I love the discussion of the Psalms and "emotional range"):

At the opening worship service of the Romans conference, it was a joy to use the wonderful new psalter, Psalms for All Seasons: A Complete Psalter for Worship (Brazos Press 2012). It has multiple versions of each of the 150 psalms (sometimes as many as ten versions of a single psalm), with musical styles ranging from chant and classical hymnody to African American spirituals and contemporary urban music. There are also spoken word and responsorial settings for each psalm. In our service, there was a psalm reading with part of a Wesleyan hymn for the response – it was very well done, and I've been singing it in my head all week. The book also includes brief theological-practical notes on how each psalm can be used in Christian worship.

I sometimes worry that our hymnbooks – where you have a more or less arbitrary selection of songs, arranged by various doctrinal and liturgical themes – create the impression that worship is a matter of human choice. You choose your Sunday hymns as you might choose a dessert from the menu at a restaurant; and you choose them on the basis of thematic relevance (this week, let's sing about love; this week, let's sing about forgiveness), so that entire dimensions of human experience might never once enter into the singing of a congregation.

But with psalmody as an overarching structure, the congregation is invited to share in experiences that might seem quite remote from their own everyday concerns. That is why we find some of the psalms so offensive: we simply cannot conceive of such experiences, even though they are – manifestly – genuine human possibilities. Instead of criticising such psalms, we need to learn how to sing them.

Our own private griefs are, often enough, quite paltry: but we are invited to join in the gigantic earth-shaking laments of the psalms. Our own criteria for happiness are selfish and small: but we are allowed to share in the magnificent heaven-rending joys of the psalmist. Our own love for God is so feeble that we might even forget all about God for days at a time: but our hearts are torn wide open as we join our voices to the enormous lovesick longing of the psalmist's praise. We are safe, affluent, protected, untroubled by enemies or oppression: but we learn to join our voices to the psalmist's indignant cries for the catastrophic appearance of justice on the earth.

If your congregation sings only Hillsong choruses, then their emotional repertoire will be limited to about two different feelings (God-you-make-me-happy, and God-I'm-infatuated-with-you) – considerably less even than the emotional range of a normal adult person. It is why entire congregations sometimes seem strangely adolescent, or even infantile: they lack a proper emotional range, as well as a suitable adult vocabulary. But in the psalter one finds the entire range of human emotion and experience – a range that is vastly wider than the emotional capacity of any single human life.

Just to stick with Hillsong as an example: for a congregation to go from singing Hillsong to singing the psalter would be like seeing Shakespeare's plays after you've only ever watched sitcoms – it would be a shock to discover that human beings can be so large, and that they come in so many different varieties. Nobody has ever felt the way Hamlet feels, or felt so much: that's exactly what makes Hamlet important.

To enter into the singing of the psalms is to participate in a pattern of worship that transcends any private experience. As though worship were really worship, not just the expression of private thoughts and feelings. As though the voice that really sings in the psalms were a universal voice, the voice of fallen and redeemed humanity gathered together in one lump – which is to say, Christ's voice.

When the church's singing is structured around Israel's psalms, there is a constant reminder that worship is not primarily a matter of personal choice; that the experience of worship is not primarily my own private experience; that the voice in worship is not even primarily my voice, but the voice of Israel, the voice of Christ, the voice of Christ's people gathered across time and space, learning together how to transmute all the varied raw materials of human experience into the praise of God through the alchemy of Jesus Christ.

(This isn't an anti-Hillsong post, BTW; I don't even know what Hillsong is. It's a pro-Psalms post....)

Monday, May 07, 2012

Easter Lauds: Et ecce terræmótus

Et ecce terræmótus  - "And behold there was a great earthquake" - is the second Psalm antiphon at Lauds on Easter Day.  You can look this up at Divinum Officium ; just enter (for instance) 3-31-2013 for Easter's date, and then click "Laudes."  (The Psalm number is according to the Vulgate; this is Psalm 100 for Anglicans):

Ant.    Et ecce terræmótus * factus est magnus : Angelus enim Dómini descéndit de cælo, allelúja.
Ant.    And behold there was a great earthquake, * for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, allelúja.
Psalmus 99.  Jubilate
Jubiláte Deo, omnis terra: * servíte Dómino in lætítia.
2  Introíte in conspéctu ejus, * in exsultatióne.
3  Scitóte quóniam Dóminus ipse est Deus: * ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos.
4  Pópulus ejus, et oves páscuæ ejus: * introíte portas ejus in confessióne, átria ejus in hymnis: confitémini illi.
5  Laudáte nomen ejus: quóniam suávis est Dóminus, in ætérnum misericórdia ejus, * et usque in generatiónem et generatiónem véritas ejus.
Psalm 99.  Jubilate
O be joyful in the Lord, all ye lands: * serve the Lord with gladness,
2  And come before his presence * with a song..
3  Be ye sure that the Lord he is God; * it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.
4  We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture : * O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be ye thankful unto him.
5  Give praises unto his Name: for the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting; * and his truth endureth from generation to generation.
Ant.    Et ecce terræmótus factus est magnus : Angelus enim Dómini descéndit de cælo, allelúja.
Ant.    And behold there was a great earthquake, for the Angel of the Lord descended from heaven, allelúja.

The text for the antiphon comes from Matthew 28:2:

1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

There is, again, no chant score or recording of this antiphon online (I'll wait for Jakub to come by for that!  - or maybe I can find it in some manuscript someplace and transcribe it myself)....

(EDIT: Thanks, Jakub!


....but there's a rather famous mass of the same name, by the 14th/15th Century French composer Antoine Brumel.  Missa Et ecce terræmótus - "The Earthquake Mass," that is - is an amazing piece in 12 voices, here sung by "Ensemble Clément Janequin, Les Sacqueboutiers De Toulouse; dir: Dominique Visse":

Some credits from the YouTube page:
Baritone Vocals -- Alain Buet, François Fauché, Malcolm Bothwell, Vincent Bouchot
Bass Vocals -- Antoine Sicot, Renaud Delaigue, Yves Bergé
Cornett -- Jean-Pierre Canihac, Marie Garnier-Marzullo, Philippe Matharel
Countertenor Vocals -- Bernhard Landauer, Dominique Visse, Frère Jean-Christophe Clair
Organ -- Jean-Marc Aymes, Laurent Stewart, Yasuko Uyama-Bouvard
Sackbut [Sacqueboute Basse] -- Bernard Fourtet, Fabien Dornic, Franck Poitrineau
Sackbut [Sacqueboute Ténor] -- Daniel Lassalle, Fabien Cherrier, Stephan Legée*
Tenor Vocals -- Bruno Boterf, Julian Podger

Here's something from Gimell records about Brumel and this mass:
It is hard to think of any other piece of music quite like the 12-part 'Earthquake' Mass by Antoine Brumel (c.1460-c.1520). Both in its employment of twelve voices for almost its entire length and in its musical effects, there is nothing comparable to it in the renaissance period, even if some of those effects may remind the listener of the 40-part motet Spem in alium (1) by Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585). Brumel's masterpiece did not inaugurate a fashion for massive compositions; but it did quickly establish a formidable reputation for itself, admired throughout central Europe in the 16th century as an experiment which could not easily be repeated. It is tribute enough that the only surviving source was copied in Munich under the direct supervision of the late renaissance composer Orlandus Lassus (1532-1594), who nonetheless never tried to rival its idiom in his own work.

A pupil of Josquin des Prés (c.1440-1521) and one of the leading Franco-Flemish composers around 1500, Brumel was famous throughout the 16th century. In a period which has left a large number of laments in memory of its great composers, Brumel received an exceptional number, more than Obrecht (c.1450-1505), Mouton (c.1459-1522) and Agricola (?1446-1506) put together. Thomas Morley (in A Plain and Easy Introduction to Practical Music, 1597) was probably the last writer to praise Brumel for his skill, the only master he ranked alongside Josquin, making particular reference to his ability in the art of canonic composition. Brumel is important to modern commentators because he was one of the few leading members of the Franco-Flemish school to be genuinely French, which is to say that he was born outside the boundaries of the Burgundian Empire, somewhere near Chartres. He was initially employed in France proper at the Cathedrals of Chartres and Laon and (in 1498) at Notre Dame in Paris where he was responsible for the education of the choirboys. However he seems to have had a restless temperament, which led to his dismissal on at least two occasions, and he soon began the peripatetic life of so many musicians of the renaissance period. There is evidence that he was employed in Geneva, Chambéry and probably Rome; but the high-point of his career was the fifteen years he spent as successor to Josquin and Obrecht at the court of Ferrara (between 1505 and 1520) in the retinue of Alfonso d'Este I.

Brumel's reputation as a writer of canons would not have been greatly increased by the simple example which underlies the Missa Et ecce terrae motus, for all that the presence of the canon plays an important role in understanding the unusual musical style of the whole. Brumel restricted his quotation of the Easter plainsong antiphon at Lauds, Et ecce terrae motus, to its first seven notes (which set the seven syllables of its title to D-D-B-D-E-D-D), working them in three-part canon between the third bass and the first two tenor parts during some of the Mass's 12-part passages. These statements occur in very long notes compared with the surrounding activity and their details may vary slightly from quotation to quotation (for example, which of the three voices begins and what the interval between them may be). By and large, though, the realisation of this canonic scaffolding is not rigorous and many of the sections of the mass are free of canon altogether.

However the influence of these slow-moving notes can be heard throughout the work, whether they are actually there or not, in the solid, slow-changing underlying chords. A casual listener to the Missa Et ecce terrae motus, confused at first by the teeming detail of the rhythmic patterns, may hear only some rather disappointing harmonies. Closer listening will reveal why Brumel chose to write in so many parts: he needed them to decorate his colossal harmonic pillars. In doing so he effectively abandoned polyphony in the sense of independent yet interrelated melodic lines, and resorted to sequences and figurations which were atypical of his time. The effect can even be akin to that of Islamic art: static, non-representational, tirelessly inventive in its use of abstract designs, which are intensified by their repetitive application. This style of writing is so effective that anyone who might be reminded of Tallis's Spem in alium would be unable to conceive of the need for another 28 parts.

The manuscript source for Brumel's 'Earthquake' Mass (Munich Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Mus. MS1) was copied for a performance in about 1570 at the Bavarian court. The names of the 33 court singers are given against the nine lower parts (the boys are not named), amongst whom Lassus sang Tenor II. Unfortunately the last folios, which contain the Agnus Dei, have rotted, leaving holes in the voice-parts. Any editor of the piece is presented with the unusual task of trying to guess where the notes which he can read might fit, as they are placed on the page in individual parts rather than in score; then re-compose what is missing. This was done for Gimell by Francis Knights. A further Agnus Dei, on the Et ecce terrae motus chant and attributed to Brumel, survives in Copenhagen; but it is widely thought not to belong to the 12-part Mass, since it is for six voices, which use different vocal ranges from those in the 12-part setting. In addition its musical style differs in various important respects from that of the larger work, not least in quoting many more than the first seven notes of the chant. For these reasons it has been omitted from this recording. The Mass is scored for three sopranos, one true alto, five wide-ranging tenors and three basses. The tessitura of all these parts (except perhaps that of the sopranos) is unpredictable to the point of eccentricity. Countertenor II, for example, has a range of two octaves and a tone, the widest vocal range I have ever met in renaissance music.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Alamire records the Trinity Carol Roll

See the scrolling text in the video for more.

Here's Alamire's website, on which they offer a page of video samples.

HT Sed Angli; they've just posted a couple of Alamire's videos. Here's part of John Taverner's beautiful Dum transisset sabbatum:

Dum transisset Sabbatum Maria Magdalene et Maria Jacobi et Salome emerunt aromata, ut venientes ungerent Jesum, alleluia. Et valde mane una sabbatorum veniunt ad monumentum orto jam sole. Gloria Patri...

And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary [the mother of] James, and Salome brought spices, that coming they might anoint Jesus, alleluya. And very early the first of the Sabbath, they came to the monument, the sun being now risen. Glory be to the Father...

I hadn't known of this U.K. group till now; they're great!


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