Friday, June 29, 2012

O Nata Lux

Via Saturday Chorale, a beautiful polyphonic setting of the hymn for Lauds at the August 6 Feast of the Transfiguration. A short quote from the composer, Guy Forbes, acts as preface to the video (which is actually just audio!):

When I decided to set the O Nata Lux text to music, I consciously decided to take a different approach to the text than some composers of late. I focused on the idea of "light born of light" rather than something more akin to the "mystery of birth." The opening material of the piece is therefore, in a sense, a depiction of light breaking upon the world in a vibrant, visible way. The following section, "dinare clemens supplicum," has the melodic material divided between several parts. The idea here is that although we come together to ask God that our praises and prayers be deemed worthy and accepted, we make these requests as individuals. The picture, if you will, is of a group standing before God with each individually making his/her request, but with all echoing the thoughts and prayers of the others. – Guy Forbes.

The Louisville Cardinal Singers sing Guy Forbes' "O Nata Lux" which is elegantly lined with full, lush chords. This was sung at the New Music Festival at the University of Louisville in November, 2010.

Here are the words in Latin, with English translation found at CPDL:

O nata lux de lumine,
Jesu redemptor saeculi,
Dignare clemens supplicum
Laudes preces que sumere.

Qui carne quondam contegi
Dignatus es pro perditis.
Nos membra confer effici,
Tui beati corporis.

O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayer.

Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members
of thy blessed body.

Monday, June 25, 2012

O Sacrum Convivium IV

This hymn in praise of the Blessed Sacrament seems to give rise to very beautiful polyphonic compositions - and this piece by the Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miskinis is no exception.

This comes from the YouTube page:
The Stanford Chamber Chorale, under the direction of Stephen M. Sano, performs "O Sacrum Convivium" by Lithuanian composer Vytautas Miskinis (b. 1954). The video is taken from the Chorale's fall 2011 concert, "There is Sweet Music Here," on December 3, 2011 in Stanford Memorial Church. For more information on the Chorale, please visit our website:
And here again is the lovely text, from Wikipedia:
O Sacrum Convivium is a Latin prose text honoring the Blessed Sacrament. It was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas. It was included in the Latin Catholic liturgy as an antiphon on the feast of Corpus Christi. Its sentiments express the profound mystery of the Eucharistic miracle: "O sacred banquet at which Christ is consumed, the memory of his Passion is recalled, our souls are filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us."

Original Latin (punctuation from Liber Usualis):

O sacrum convivium!
in quo Christus sumitur:
recolitur memoria passionis ejus:
mens impletur gratia:
et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.

Translation of original Latin:

O sacred banquet!
in which Christ is received,
the memory of his Passion is renewed,
the mind is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory to us is given.
HT Saturday Chorale.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sederunt principes (Pérotin)

Wow.  From the YouTube page:
Sederunt principes - Pérotin (1160?-1230)
Rearranged by New York Polyphony and Lizzie Ball

Recorded live at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Square, New York City.

Sederunt principes is the proper Introit for the Feast of St. Stephen (December 26); the text comes from various verses (23 and 86, and then Verse 1) of Psalm 119:

Sederunt principes,et adversum me loquebantur; et iniqui persecuti sunt me; adjuva me, Domine Deus meus, quia servus tuus exercebatur in tuis justificationibus. Ps. Beati immaculati in via, qui ambulant in lege Domini. V. Gloria Patri.

Princes sat, and spoke against me; and sinners persecuted me: help me, O Lord my God, for thy servant hath practised thy commandments. Ps. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. V. Glory, &c.

A little more about this piece, from Wikipedia:

Pérotin composed organa, the earliest type of polyphonic music; previous European music, such as Gregorian and other types of chant, had been monophonic. He pioneered the styles of organum triplum and organum quadruplum (three and four-part polyphony); in fact his Sederunt principes and Viderunt omnes are among only a few organa quadrupla known.

A prominent feature of his compositional style was to take a simple, well-known melody and stretch it out in time, so that each syllable was hundreds of seconds long, and then use each note of the melody (the tenor, Latin for "holder", or cantus firmus) as the basis for rhythmically complex, interweaving lines above it. The result was that one or more vocal parts sang free, quickly moving lines ("discants") over the chant below, which was extended to become a slowly shifting drone.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Exaudi, Domine (The Introit for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Here's an mp3 of the introit from JoguesChant, and this is how they translate the Latin:
Hearken, O Lord, unto my voice which has called out to you; deign to be my help, forsake me not, do not despise me, O God my Saviour. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Here's the score:

Interestingly, the Benedictines of Brazil note that the text is taken from Psalm 27, verses 7-9 and then 1 - exactly as was the Introit for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, just a few weeks ago.  This one is slightly different, though; the Benedictines call the Easter 7 Introit Exaudi, Domine... tibi dixit, and they call this one Exaudi, Domine....adiutor, because the texts differ in their middle sections - but they are very much alike.

The whole thing is mysterious, to me! I'm trying to do some quick figuring, wondering why this happened - but I've come up with nothing so far. Easter 7 is the Sunday following the Ascension, and this one is the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost - and so?   Well, maybe something will come to me.

The traditional Introit for today was Respice in me, taken from Psalm 25, verses 16, 18, and then 1-2.  Here's the mp3 for that one, from ReneGoupil, and there chant score and translation below:

Look upon me and have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am abandoned and destitute; consider my abjection and my labour, and forgive me all my sins, my dear God. Unto you, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; O my God, I trust in you; let me not be put to shame.

The RCL Gospel reading is Mark 4:26-34 - the parables of the scattered seed and the mustard seed:
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come."

He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade."

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.

 Robert Farrar Capon writes, in "Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus," about the parable of the growing seed:

First and foremost, [the parable] ties the imagery [of seed] expressly, within the parable itself, to the kingdom: "The kingdom of God," Jesus says, "is as if a man should cast seed upon the ground." Note the strength, even the extravagance, of the comparison: the kingdom is presented as the very thing sown. The kingdom is not the result of the sowing of something quite different from itself (in which it would be contained only virtually, as a plant is contained in a seed); rather, the kingdom as such is present, in all its power, right from the start. Moreover, by the very force of the imagery of sowing, the seed is clearly to be understood as having been sownin this world, squarely in the midst of every human and even every earthly condition.  This emphasis on the kingdom as a worldly, not just an otherworldly piece of business was already clear in the Sower; but Jesus' repetition of it here as well as later makes me want to underscore it.


The kingdom Jesus proclaims is at hand, planted here, at work in this world.  The Word sown is none other than God himself incarnate.  By his death and resurrection at Jerusalem in A.D. 29, he reconciles everything, everywhere, to himself - whether they be things on earth or things in heaven.  And at the end, when he makes all things new, he makes not just a new heaven but a new earth - a glorified re-creation of nothing less than his old stamping ground.  The Bible's last chapters proclaim a heaven and earth more inextricably intertwined than ever.  Whatever else the "New Jerusalem" may signify, it says plainly that the final "heaven" will be as earthy as the eschatological earth will be heavenly - and that that's the way it is going to be forever.

The (Episcopal Church) collect for today is this one:
Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
 Hatchett's Commentary says this:
This collect is new, but the preamble includes quotations from the collects for the fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, the second Sunday after Trinity, and the twenty-second Sunday after Trinity in earlier Prayer Books.  The prayer was drafted by the Rev. Dr. Massey H. Shepherd, Jr.  It portrays the church's misssion to the world - a ministry of proclamation of the gospel and of social concern and action.  In order that we may fulfill this mission we pray that the church might be kept in God's steadfast faith and love.


Friday, June 15, 2012

"Evelyn Underhill – Call to the Inner Life"

From Interrupting the Silence; Evelyn Underhill died on June 15, 1941.

underhillSometime around 1931 Evelyn Underhill wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Gordon Lang (1928-1942), about the inner life of the clergy. Her concern was that the multiplicity of the clergy’s duties had diminished some priests’ grounding in a life of prayer.

Underhill’s concerns are as relevant today, perhaps more so, as they were when she wrote the letter. However, we should not limit her concerns and proposals to only the clergy. They are equally applicable to the laity. The life of the Church and the life of humanity, lay or ordained, must begin within and arise out of a life of prayer.

The following are excerpts from her letter:
  • “Call the clergy as a whole, solemnly and insistently to a greater interiority and cultivation of the personal life of prayer.”
  • “The real failures, difficulties and weaknesses of the Church are spiritual and can only be remedied by spiritual effort and sacrifice, and that her deepest need is a renewal, first in the clergy and through them in the laity; of the great Christian tradition of the inner life.”
  • “A disciplined priesthood of theocentric souls.”
  • “We look to the clergy to help and direct our spiritual growth. We are seldom satisfied because with a few noble exceptions they are so lacking in spiritual realism, so ignorant of the laws and experiences of the life of prayer. Their Christianity as a whole is humanitarian rather than theocentric.”
  • “God is the interesting thing about religion, and people are hungry for God. But only a priest whose life is soaked in prayer, sacrifice, and love can, by his own spirit of adoring worship, help us to apprehend Him.”
  • “However difficult and apparently unrewarding, care for the interior spirit is the first duty of every priest. Divine renewal can only come through those whose roots are in the world of prayer.”
  • “We instantly recognize those services and sermons that are the outward expression of the priest’s interior adherence to God and the selfless love of souls.”
  • “I know that recovering the ordered interior life of prayer and meditation will be very difficult for clergy immersed increasingly in routine work. It will mean for many a complete rearrangement of values and a reduction of social activities. They will not do it unless they are made to feel its crucial importance.”
Here's the Collect for the celebration of Evelyn Underhill's day, from Lesser Feasts and Fasts

O God, Origin, Sustainer, and End of all creatures: Grant that your Church, taught by your  servant Evelyn Underhill, guarded evermore by your power and guided by your Spirit into the light of truth, may continually offer to you all glory and thanksgiving, and attain with your saints to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have promised us by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Anglican Chant XIX: Psalm 57

From the YouTube page:

Anglican Chant Setting Sung during Choral Evensong at Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal) in Cleveland, Ohio May 19, 2010 Trinity Chamber Singers. Horst Buchholz, Choirmaster Nicole Keller, Organist.  May 19, 2010.

This choir is good - I like them more each time I hear them - and this is a really nice setting. I can't figure out why nobody ever includes the chant composer, though! It's bizarre. Can anybody help?  [EDIT:  Scott, as usual, can:  "They're chanting from the Anglican Chant Psalter published by Church Hymnal Corp., edited by Alec Wyton. The chant is No. 126 in that book, a single chant in D major by Frederick A. Gore Ouseley (1825-1889). They're starting with v. 6 of the psalm; the first five verses of the psalm are set to a D minor version of the same chant (same contours to the lines, but altered to make it minor). Something similar is done with the other setting for this psalm, two versions of a single chant by Purcell, a minor version and its parallel major." Thanks again, Scott!]

NOT the Coverdale Psalter this time, but beautiful anyway! They're singing verses 6-11 only fomr the Psalm; here's the whole thing, though:

Psalm 57 Miserere mei, Deus

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful, for I have taken refuge in you; *
in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by.

2 I will call upon the Most High God, *
the God who maintains my cause.

3 He will send from heaven and save me; he will confound those who trample upon me; *
God will send forth his love and his faithfulness.

4 I lie in the midst of lions that devour the people; *
their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongue a sharp sword.

5 They have laid a net for my feet, and I am bowed low; *
they have dug a pit before me, but have fallen into it themselves.

6 Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, *
and your glory over all the earth.

7 My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; *
I will sing and make melody.

8 Wake up, my spirit; awake, lute and harp; *
I myself will waken the dawn.

9 I will confess you among the peoples, O LORD; *
I will sing praise to you among the nations.

10 For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens, *
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

11 Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God, *
and your glory over all the earth.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Anglican Chant XVIII: Psalm 69 (Save Me, O God), Choir of Gloucester Cathedral

From the YouTube page:

The Choir of Gloucester Cathedral, under the direction of John Sanders, sing the sixty-ninth Psalm to an Anglican chant for choir and organ. In Psalm 69 ('Salvum Me Fac'), a gutting yet beautiful psalm of despair, the psalmist, having sunk deep into the mire of emotional and spiritual anguish, cries out to God for deliverance from his sorrow.

[ Text: ]

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in, even unto my soul.I stick fast in the deep mire, where no ground is; I am come into deep waters, so that the floods run over me. I am weary of crying; my throat is dry; my sight faileth me for waiting so long upon my God.

They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; they that are mine enemies, and would destroy me guiltless, are mighty. I paid them the things that I never took.

God, thou knowest my simpleness, and my faults are not hid from thee. Let not them that trust in thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my cause; let not those that seek thee be confounded through me, O Lord God of Israel.

And why? for thy sake have I suffered reproof; shame hath covered my face. I am become a stranger unto my brethren, even an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath even eaten me; and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee are fallen upon me.

I wept, and chastened myself with fasting, and that was turned to my reproof.I put on sackcloth also, and they jested upon me. They that sit in the gate speak against me, and the drunkards make songs upon me.

But, LORD, I make my prayer unto thee in an acceptable time. Hear me, O God, in the multitude of thy mercy, even in the truth of thy salvation: take me out of the mire, that I sink not; O let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the water-flood drown me, neither let the deep swallow me up; and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD, for thy loving-kindness is comfortable; turn thee unto me according to the multitude of thy mercies. And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: O haste thee, and hear me. Draw nigh unto my soul, and save it; O deliver me, because of mine enemies.

Thou hast known my reproach, my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all in thy sight. Reproach hath broken my heart; I am full of heaviness: I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was no man, neither found I any to comfort me. They gave me gall to eat; and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.

Let their table be made a snare to take themselves withal; and let the things that should have been for their wealth be unto them an occasion of falling. Let their eyes be blinded, that they see not; and ever bow thou down their backs.Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful displeasure take hold of them. Let their habitation be void, and no man to dwell in their tents.

For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk how they may vex them whom thou hast wounded. Let them fall from one wickedness to another, and not come into thy righteousness. Let them be wiped out of the book of the living, and not be written among the righteous.

As for me, when I am poor and in heaviness, thy help, O God, shall lift me up. I will praise the Name of God with a song, and magnify it with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than a bullock that hath horns and hoofs.

The humble shall consider this, and be glad: seek ye after God, and your soul shall live. For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him: the sea, and all that moveth therein.

For God will save Sion, and build the cities of Judah, that men may dwell there, and have it in possession.The posterity also of his servants shall inherit it; and they that love his Name shall dwell therein.

Nothing at the page about the composer; will post if I get that information (help, Scott!).  [EDIT:  A commenter notes that the composer(s) are J. Barnby and Charles Hylton Stewart.  Many thanks to him or her!]

Monday, June 11, 2012

"People will actually sing if you let them"

From Nadia Bolz Weber, at the Patheos "Progressive Christian" blog:

This past Sunday I recorded the last verse of  our closing hymn: How Great Thou Art.  Please take a second to listen: How great thou art-1. HFASS <—–click here

One of my non-negotiables going in to starting a church was that congregational singing be the primary musical expression of the gathered people of God. Not a band. Not an organ. Not a singer-songer writer strumming guitar chords. But the congregation itself.  Singing together means breathing together.  It means creating harmonies that cannot exist when we sing alone.  It builds community and sustains us in a way that nothing else can.

The liturgy booklets at HFASS include the actual music.  I know, very old fashioned of us.  I think churches musically infantilize people when we assume that because they “can’t read music” that they can only manage lyrics projected on a screen. I myself cannot read music.  But I can figure out that when the note goes up, I sing up and when it goes down I sing down and that notes with dots at the end are a little longer. That’s about all I or anyone else needs to know and when faced with an unfamiliar piece of music I have a great deal more chance to participate in singing it if I see the music than if you only give me the lyrics.

It has taken us awhile to become the singing congregation we are.  We have a cantor who leads the “choral guild” – a group of people (whoever wants to show up) who come 40 minutes early every Sunday to learn the harmonies so they can sit among the congregation and help support the singing.

Churches CAN learn to sing together.  I implore you to not leave music to the professionals because it belongs to all of us.  Singing together is a human birthright not just something the congregation is invited to do if they feel like it while listening to the real musicians make all the music for them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"A Mass For Recusants With Propers for Corpus Christi"

There's an interesting post at Saturday Chorale (a great site new to me) about this William Byrd mass.  It includes a setting of the mass ordinary - and polyphonic settings of the propers for Corpus Christi. Here's the video itself (45 minutes long):

Here's the opening of the post at Saturday Chorale, explaining the circumstances in which Byrd lived and wrote this mass:
William Byrd was a brave and stubborn man, a devout Catholic in a country whose government and people were becoming more and more Protestant he was able to use his position as a favourite of Elizabeth I to mitigate the worst of the punishments meted out to him and his family as recusants. Notwithstanding Elizabeth I's protection Byrd's home was often subjected to raids during which it and its inhabitants were searched for compromising Catholic materials, had such been found Byrd would at the very least have faced crippling fines and could well have faced imprisonment or even being put to death. Given these circumstances it took courage to set any Latin texts whatsoever. Byrd however went well beyond merely setting Latin religious texts. With the stubborn heroism that seems to have been one of his defining characteristics Byrd not only set but published three settings of the Mass between 1593 and 1595.
Here's a note at the YouTube page, listing all the music on the video:
The music in this video consists of Byrd's five part Mass and (some of) the Propers for Corpus Christi. The music in the video consists of:

1 Cibavit eos
2 Kyrie
3 Gloria
4 Oculi omnium
5 Lauda Sion salvatorem
6 Credo
7 Sacerdotes Domini
8a Sanctus
8b Benedictus
9 Quotiescunque manducabitis
10 Agnus Dei
11 Processional Hymn, Pange lingua gloriosi
The blogger provides a PDF at the post, too, with texts for all the above. A wonderful post! And there's much more to read there - so, go.

O Sacrum Convivium III

Here's Thomas Tallis' version of this Eucharistic hymn, sung by the Choir of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Here's Olivier Messaien's setting (which the choir at St. Mary the Virgin sang this morning at the Feast of the Body & Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi); this is The Cambridge Singers, with John Rutter conducting:

The text was written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century; below are the Latin and English words.
O sacrum convivium! in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius: mens impletur gratia: et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur. Alleluia.

O sacred banquet! in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory to us is given to us. Alleluia.
Here, Psallentes sings the Gregorian antiphon, and they include this note: "The antiphon O sacrum convivium, from a sixteenth century Turnhout processionale (Flanders, ca. 1550)."

And here's Giovanni Viannini's Ambrosian chant version:

This is from the YouTube page:
O Sacrum convivium, Inno, Sallenda ambrosiana, nella liturgia della chiesa milanese, Studio del canto ambrosiano; Giovanni Vianini, Schola Gregoriana Mediolanensis, 02 70.104.245,, Milano, Italia

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Cibavit eos and Factus est Dominus protector meus

Cibavit eos

Cibavit eos ("He fed them") is the Introit for The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (AKA Corpus Christi, which is celebrated variously on its day - June 7th, this year - or this Sunday, June 10). Here it is sung by the Schola Gregoriana Aurea Luce:

Here's a translation of this from JoguesChant; here's the mp3 from their site:

He fed them with the finest of wheat, alleluia; and with honey from the rock he satisfied them, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice in honour of God our helper; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.

The text comes from Psalm 81; here's the score, from the Liber Usualis:

William Byrd set this Introit; the names of the singers are given at the start of the video, but otherwise there's no information about it:

Factus est Dominus protector meus

However, Corpus Christi is not feast day in the Episcopal Church; in fact, it's not on our calendar at all. This Sunday is simply the Second Sunday after Pentecost (and June 10 is the feast day of Ephrem the Syrian); interestingly, the Extraordinary Form presents it as the Second Sunday after Pentecost, noting that the day is optionally celebrated as the "External Solemnity of Corpus Christi" - and is "only an option if there is a procession."

The Introit for the Second Sunday after Pentecost is Factus est Dominus protector meus" ("The Lord has become my protector"). Here's a lovely mp3 recording, from Renegoupil, and below is the chant score and translation.

The Lord has become my protector; he has brought me forth into free and open spaces; he delivered me because he was well pleased with me. I will love you always, O Lord my strength; the Lord is my support, my refuge and my deliverer.

The text comes from Psalm 18. The introductory note to this Psalm reads "For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul."

Here's a helpful post titled "Learning to sing the Introit for 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Factus est Dominus" from the website of the St Mary Magdalen Choir, Brighton.

One interesting thing about this Introit is that it's also the Introit for the "Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time" - which sometimes happens before Lent! So the chant propers for this Sunday are sometimes sung as part of the "Ordinary Time" that comes after the Feast of the Epiphany - and sometimes as part of the "Ordinary Time" that comes after the Feast of Pentecost. I think I'll go back and take a look at all of them, to see how that works out in practice!

Another interesting thing is that I find very few English translations of this Psalm that use the word "Protector" anywhere; most use other, much more interesting words: "my deliverer"; "my rock"; "my shield"; "the horn of my salvation"; "my stronghold." So I'll be interested to take a look at that as well.

The Collect for the Second Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 5) is this one:

O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hatchett's Commentary says, about this collect, that:

Earlier Prayer Books and the Sarum missal appointed this collect for the fifth Sunday after Easter, but it has been replaced there with one more appropriate to the Easter season. The Gelasian sacramentary (no. 556) and the supplement to the Gregorian (no. 1123) both contain the collect for the fourth Sunday after the Easter octave. The opening of the petition, prior to this edition, read "Grant to us they humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good." The word "good" in this context was subject to misinterpretation; "right" restores the original Latin connotation.

Friday, June 08, 2012


From Evelyn Underhill's Worship, 1936:

The painted cave of those prehistoric worshippers of an unknown God who were "simple-minded enough to give of their best to the supra-sensible powers," the Pagan temple, the Christian cathedral, are all expressions of the same fundamental human need to incoporate, make visible, the spirit of worship; to lavish skill, labour, and wealth on this most apparently "useless" of all the activities of man. So, too, the ritual chant, with its accompaniment of ceremonial movement and manual acts, is found to exert a stablizing influence at every level of his religious life. And when this costly and explicit embodiment is lacking, or is rejected where once possessed, and the Godward life of the community is not given some sensible and institutional expression within the social complex, worship seldom develops its full richness and power. It remains thin, abstract, and notional: a tendency, an attitude, a general aspiration, moving alongside human life, rather than in it.

It is true that worship, when thus embodied, loses - or seems to lose - something of its purity; but only then can it take up and use man's various powers and capacities, turning the whole creature towards the Eternal, and thus entering the texture of his natural as well as his supernatural life. Certainly, it is here that we encounter the greatest of the dangers that accompany its long history; the danger that form will smother spirit, ritual action take the place of spontaneous prayer, the outward and visible sign obscure the inward grace. But the risk is one which man is bound to take. He is not "pure" spirit, and is not capable of "pure" spiritual acts. Even though in his worship he moves out towards absolutes, and in and through that worship absolutes are revealed to his soul, it is at his own peril that leaves the world of sense behind, in his approach to the God Who created and informs it. This humbling truth must govern all his responses to Reality.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Evensong at Grace Church, NYC

The Grace Church (this one) Choir of Men & Boys sings Evensong, courtesy of On-Demand Worship on the Episcopal Church website. Haven't listened to it through yet, so I'm not sure what evening; tell me in the comments, once you've heard the collect and the readings! [EDIT: Never mind. This video is only about 15 minutes long, so it must just be excerpts. But it's Psalm 114; that'll tell us something!}

If you click "Channel" on the right side of the video, you can listen to other worship-service videos from, it looks like, a variety of different parishes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Corpus Christi Carol: The faucon hath born my mak away

Here is Benjamin Britten's setting of this medieval carol. This piece was written in 1933, but the carol itself is about 500 years old (see below).  It's beautiful.  The Feast of Corpus Christi is tomorrow, June 7.

(At one time I had posted English composer Geoffrey Burgon's setting of this song, but it appears not to be available any longer on YouTube.)

Here are the words, and below that, the entire Wikipedia entry for this topic.

Lulley, lully, lulley, lully,
The faucon hath born my mak away.

He bare hym up, he bare hym down,
He bare hym into an orchard brown.

In that orchard ther was an hall,
That was hanged with purpill and pall.

And in that hall ther was a bede,
Hit was hangid with gold so rede.

And yn that bede ther lythe a knyght,
His wowndes bledyng day and nyght.

By that bedes side ther kneleth a may,
And she wepeth both nyght and day.

And by that bedes side ther stondith a ston,
"Corpus Christi" wretyn theron.

Some word meanings:

faucon: falcon
mak: mate, love
bare: bore, carried
purpill: purple (the royal color)
pall: a funeral pall, a cloth spread over a coffin
bede: bed
rede: red
lythe: lieth, lies
wowndes: wounds
bledyng: bleeding
kneleth: kneeleth, kneels
may: maid, maiden
wepeth: weepeth, weeps
stondith: standeth, stands
ston: stone
Corpus Christi: body of Christ (Latin)
wretyn: written

From Wikipedia:
Corpus Christi Carol is a Middle or Early Modern English hymn (or carol), first found by an apprentice grocer named Richard Hill in a manuscript written around 1504. The original writer of the carol remains anonymous.

The structure of the carol is seven stanzas, each with rhyming couplets. The use of seven stanzas possibly has religious significance. Seven is a number that is considered perfect, which would make sense as Christ is mentioned in the seventh stanza. The tense changes in the fifth stanza from past to present continuous.

One theory about the meaning of the carol is that it is concerned with the legend of the Holy Grail. In Arthurian traditions of the Grail story, the Fisher King is the knight who is the Grail's protector, and whose legs are perpetually wounded.[1]When he is wounded his kingdom suffers and becomes a wasteland. This would explain the reference to "an orchard brown".

The text may be an allegory in which the crucified is described as a wounded knight. The bleeding knight could be Christ who bleeds for the sins of humanity endlessly. Christ is most probably represented as a knight as he is battling sin and evil by his continual pain. The "orchard brown" to which the knight was conveyed becomes, in this reading, the "orchard" of wooden crosses that covered the hill of Golgotha/Calvary where Christ - along with many others - was Crucified, while the "hall... hanged with purpill and pall" could be a representation of the tomb in which Christ was placed after Crucifixion. This allegorical interpretation would tie in with the seven stanzas possibly representing the Seven Deadly Sins. The maiden who is by the knight's side could be Mary. There is religious symbolism throughout the carol. The falcon may have several possible meanings. It may be that, as a bird of prey, it represents those who killed Christ and sent him to heaven. It may also represent a new beginning and freedom, which Christ gained on his death. The colours in the carol are also significant. The purple and gold are signs of wealth, although these were also colours that referred to the Church due to its wealth. The pall (black velvet) probably refers to death.

One recent interpretation is that it was composed about the execution of Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, whose badge was a falcon. However, since Anne Boleyn was killed in 1536 and the earliest copy carol yet found is from 1504, this is most unlikely.
Some information about the song's use in music history:
Peter Warlock have used the carol in composition and applied it to those that died at war in 1919.

Benjamin Britten used it in the fifth variation of "A Boy Was Born" (Choral Variations For Mixed Voices), Opus 3, in 1933.

John Gerrish wrote an arrangement for it in 1957, titled "The Falcon."

Ian Read's English Neo-folk band Fire + Ice, performs a version of this song on their 1992 album Gilded by the Sun

Singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley included his interpretation of Britten's work on his debut 1994 album, Grace. About his version Buckley said, "The 'Carol' is a fairytale about a falcon who takes the beloved of the singer to an orchard. The singer goes looking for her and arrives at a chamber where his beloved lies next to a bleeding knight and a tomb with Christ's body in it."[2]

Scottish singer-songwriter Archie Fisher performs a version of this song, 'Looly, Looly', on his album 'Will Ye Gang, Love' (1994)

It has been set for unaccompanied choir by Norwegian composer Trond Kverno in 1995.

The carol is featured in The Choirboys's album, The Choirboys, released in 2005.

In 2007 it was sung in Season 1, Episode 2 of the drama on Showtime, The Tudors.

New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra sings this on her album "Winter Magic", released in November 2009.

The Chapel choir of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge recorded a choral version of the Corpus Christi Carol on their 2009 album, Ave Virgo.[3]

English guitarist Jeff Beck performs his interpretation on his 2010 album, Emotion & Commotion. In the album liner notes, Beck states that Jeff Buckley inspired his cover of this piece: "When I heard Jeff Buckley's album, the simplicity and the beauty of the way he sounded amazed me."

Here's the Jeff Buckley version:

Here's the Corpus Christi Office.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

A Matins Invitatory for Trinity: Deum verum

Sung by Psallentes, a great Belgian chant group:

Below is the full text of the Matins Invitatory, from  [EDIT:  That site requires registration and asks for a subscription fee now, but Divinum Officium will give you the text for Trinity Matins; just enter 5-26-2013 for this year's date of Trinity Sunday.]

Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Psalmus 94.
Venite, exsultemus Domino
Psalm 94.
Venite, exsultemus Domino
Veníte, exsultémus Dómino, jubilémus Deo, salutári nostro : præoccupémus fáciem ejus in confessióne, et in psalmis jubilémus ei.
O come, let us sing unto the Lord ; let us heartily rejoice in the God of our salvation.  Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving ; and shew ourselves glad in him with psalms.
Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Quóniam Deus magnus Dóminus, et Rex magnus super omnes deos : quóniam non repéllet Dóminus plebem suam : quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitúdines móntium ipse cónspicit.
For the Lord is a great God ; and a great King above all gods:  For the Lord will not cast off his people:  In his hand are all the corners of the earth, and the strength of the hills is his also.
Veníte, adorémus.
O come, let us worship.
In the following verse of the Psalm, at the words veníte, adorémus, et procidámus ante Deum (O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker) all genuflect.
Quóniam ipsíus est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et áridam fundavérunt manus ejus : veníte, adorémus, et procidámus ante Deum : plorémus coram Dómino, qui fecit nos, quia ipse est Dóminus Deus noster ; nos autem pópulus ejus, et oves páscuæ ejus.
The sea is his and he made it ; and his hands prepared the dry land.  O come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker: For he is the Lord our God ; and we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Hódie, si vocem ejus audiéritis, nolíte obduráre corda vestra, sicut in exacerbatióne, secúndum diem tentatiónis in desérto : ubi tentavérunt me patres vestri, probavérunt et vidérunt ópera mea.
Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness ; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works.
Veníte, adorémus.
O come, let us worship.
Quadragínta annis próximus fui generatióni huic, et dixi : Semper hi errant corde ; ipsi vero non cognovérunt vias meas : quibus jurávi in ira mea : Si introíbunt in réquiem meam.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways:  unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.
Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.  Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper,  et in sæcula sæculórum.  Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:  as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.
Veníte, adorémus.
O come, let us worship.
Deum verum, unum in Trinitáte, et Trinitátem in Unitáte, * Veníte, adorémus.
Very God, One in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, * O come, let us worship.
Hymnus Summæ Parens cleméntiæ,
Mundi regis qui máchinam,
Uníus et substántiæ,
Trinúsque persónis Deus :
Da déxteram surgéntibus,
Exsúrgat et mens sóbria,
Flagrans et in laudem Dei
Grates repéndet débitas.
Deo Patri sit glória,
Natóque Patris único,
Cum Spíritu Paráclito,
In sempitérna sæcula.  Amen.
The Hymn O God of mercy passing thought,
Who hast the world contrived and wrought ;
In might, essential Unity,
In Persons, blessed Trinity :
Uplift us with thine arm of might,
And let our hearts rise pure and bright,
And, ardent in God's praises, pay
The thanks we owe him every day.
Glory to thee, O Father, Lord,
And to thy Sole-begotten Word,
Both with the Holy Spirit One
While everlasting ages run.  Amen.
As soon as the introductory part of Matins is finished, there is begun The First NocturnThe Psalms with their Antiphons are those of the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as given below.

The hymn listed above is not included on the video, and does not appear in  Hymn melodies for the whole year, from the Sarum service-books as one of the Sarum Trinity Office hymns (see this last link for the Sarum hymns).  TPL describes Summæ Parens cleméntiæ this way:
The author of this 7th century hymn is unknown. In the Roman Breviary this hymn is used at Saturday Matins during Ordinary Time. In the Liturgia Horarum the hymn is used on the first and third weeks of the Psalter for the Office of the Readings during Ordinary Time.
The Te Deum is sung at the end of Matins - and often at the Mass on the day, too.  Here's a Solemn Te Deum, sung by "Monks of the one of the Abbeys of the Solesmes Congregation," it says at the YouTube page.

Here's a post on the Te Deum.   And here is the Latin, and the English translation from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

Te Deum laudamus:
te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem
omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli;
tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim
incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus
Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra
maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum
sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti
credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum,
Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua,
Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi:
non confundar in aeternum.
We praise thee, O God
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord
All the earth doth worship thee
the Father everlasting.
To thee all the angels cry aloud
the heavens and all the powers therein.
To thee cherubim and seraphim do continually cry
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth
are full of the majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.
The noble army of martyrs praise thee.
The Holy Church
throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
the father of an infinite majesty;
thine honourable true and only Son;
also the Holy Ghost the comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death,
thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the hand of God in glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting
O Lord save thy people
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
and worship thy name, ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord in thee have I trusted let me not be confounded.

Here's the Stanford Te Deum in C, sung by the Westminster Abbey Choir:

And at that point, we can't leave out W.A. Mozart's Te Deum in C, either, can we?

The Trinity

Via Into the Expectation:

“Suddenly the Trinity filled my heart full of the greatest joy, and I understood that it will be so in heaven without end to all who will come there. For the Trinity is God, God is the Trinity. The Trinity is our maker, the Trinity is our protector, the Trinity is our everlasting lover, the Trinity is our endless joy and our bliss, by our Lord Jesus Christ and in our Lord Jesus Christ. . . for where Jesus appears the Trinity is understood.”

Julian of Norwich (1342-1423)

(Andrei Rublev's "Angels at Mamre (Holy Trinity)" Icon, from around 1410.)


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