Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Seventh Day of Christmas: "King Jesus Hath a Garden"

This is one of my favorite carols of all, here sung by the Wells Cathedral Choir.   It makes it into the Christmas pantheon on account of the Bethlehem reference - and the joyous, celebratory melody and text - but it's more than a simple Christmas carol, too.  It was originally a Dutch traditional carol, Heer Jesus heeft een Hofken.

English words from this page:
1. King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.
There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.
2. The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, [Humility]. Refrain

3. The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marygold, Obedience. Refrain

4. The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
'Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace. Refrain

5. Yet, 'mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless'd be his Name! Refrain

6. Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat. Refrain

The notes on that same page about the carol say this:
Traditional Dutch from Geestlijcke Harmonie, Emmerich, 1633
Translation by Rev. George R. Woodward (1848-1934)
Source: George Radcliffe Woodward, ed., Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), # 430

Quite nice for such a lovely, colorful hymn to speak about virtues (or "Fruits of the Spirit"), and in such a beautiful way.

Posting this for pure enjoyment for the time being, but I'm going to see if I can find out more about the text at some point, too.....

Friday, December 25, 2015

Chistmas Day Matins: Sancta et immaculata virginitas ("Holy and spotless Virgin")

Sancta et immaculata virginitas is the sixth responsory of Christmas Matins, but as CPDL notes, it is "frequently used for Marian feasts as well."  It's sung here by Ensemble Officium:

Here's the text in Latin and English, from Divinum Officium:

R. Sancta et immaculata virginitas, quibus te laudibus efferam nescio:
* Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
V. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui.
R. Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.

V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
R. O Mary, how holy and how spotless is thy virginity! I am too dull to praise thee!
* For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. For thou hast borne in thy breast Him Whom the heavens cannot contain.

See it here, too, in the Bute translation-Winter edition of the Roman Breviary (1908).

And sure enough, you find the same text as the Responsory after the first reading of "Matins of the Virgin," at's Hypertext Book of Hours.

Here's the chant score, from the Liber Usualis 1961:

This Responsory contains one of those rare extra-Biblical citations; I'm trying to find the origin of the notion that "The highest heavens cannot contain God whom you carried in your womb"; that is an old idea.  But I haven't been able to pin down the coiner of that phrase so far; will return to edit this when I do.  It's a quite beautiful thought, and one of the reasons I wanted to post on this chant today. 

:  This cite may belong to Augustine, who said in Sermon 184, on the Nativity:  “He who sustains the world lay in a manger, a wordless Child, yet the Word of God. Him whom the heavens do not contain the bosom of one woman bore.  She ruled our King; she carried Him in whom we exist; she fed our Bread.” And in fact, it's not totally extra-biblical anyway;  Auggie was clearly riffing on 1 Kings 8:27 (or its clone, 2 Chronicles 6:18):  "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you...." ]

Several other composers have set this text; here's Gabrieli's:

A blessed Christmas to all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December 16: O Sapientia ("O Wisdom")

O Sapientia is the Antiphon upon Magnificat on December 16 (in the English Church; it's December 17 elsewhere), and the first of the eight Great "O" Antiphons sung during the week before Christmas. These antiphons are sung before and after the Magnificat at Evensong.

The antiphon is sung here in English by the Salisbury Cathedral Choir; a reading from Isaiah 9 follows:

The text for this antiphon comes from Sirach 24:
O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Here's a version in Latin, sung I believe by the Blackfriars:

December 16 is explicitly designated "O Sapientia" in the Church Calendar of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The texts for the Great "O"s come mostly from the Prophets and from the Wisdom literature, and become mystical  proclamations, made daily during those eight days, of the coming of Christ.  The antiphons themselves are over a thousand years old.

This is an "O Antiphon" page from the Poissy Antiphonal (1335-45); it's got "O Sapientia," "O Adonai," and "O Radix Jesse" - the first three "O"s:

Sing the Magnificat, too, if you wish; here's the Latin version:

The text of the Magnificat comes from Luke 1;  here are the words to the original Latin and the modern English (US BCP 1979) versions of this beautiful canticle, so that you can sing along if you wish.

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum.
Et exultavit spiritus meus: in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae:
ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est:
et sanctum nomen eius.
Et misericordia eius, a progenie et progenies:
timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo:
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede:
et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis:
et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum:
recordatus misericordiae suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros:
Abraham, et semini eius in saecula.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto,
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

This article, written in around 1914 by A.C.A. Hall, the Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, contains quite a bit more about the Great "O"s.

Here are links on this blog to posts on all the Great Os.  If you'd like to pray the whole office of Vespers, you can do it at St. Bede's Breviary; choose "Amplified Prayer Book" under "Style" to get the "O's".

Here, in addition, is a good longish article about these antiphons, and some other related ones - and this article contains a bit more historical information about the Great "O"s. 

A blessed Sapientia-tide.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Two for the Feast of St. Nicholas (December 6)

This feast was displaced by Sunday this year, but here are two videos of beautiful songs in honor of St. Nicholas.  Both are sung by the ensemble Peregrina:  Kelly Landerkin, Agnieszka Budzinska-Bennett and Hanna Järveläinen.   I haven't (yet) got the words for either of these songs, but I am working on it.   So let these just be for pure enjoyment, for now.  EDIT:  Well, yes, I do, at least for Gaudeat Ecclesia.   See below.

This one is described at the YouTube page as "a three-part Benedicamus trope for St. Nicholas based on popular Clementiam-melody."

And this lovely song (Gaudeat ecclesia - "The church rejoices") is described as "a beautiful and simple rondellus from 13th century Paris to praise Saint Nicholas and his miracles."   I seem always to be attracted to French melodies!|

I found these words at, in the book Cantiones et muteti: Lieder und Motetten des Mittelalters (1895).  Here they are, in Latin; I'll work on an English translation.
1. Gaudeat ecclesia,
Praesulis solemnia
Colens et praeconia;

Nicolae, propera,
Nos fove, nos libera,
Purga cordis scelera.

2. Vita sancti praesulis
Claruit miraculis,
Vinctus in cunabulis.

3. Tener in infantia
Servavit jejunia,
Non incurrit vitia.

4. Hic tribus virginibus
Opibus carentibus
Subvenit muneribus.

5. Ergo festum colite,
Laudes Deo dicite,
Deo benedicite.
Nicolae, propera,
Nos ama, nos libera,
Purga cordis scelera.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Lauds antiphon for Advent: Ecce Dominus veniet ("Behold the Lord comes")

Ecce Dominus veniet ("Behold the Lord comes") is a Psalm antiphon at Lauds on the First Sunday of Advent.

 These are the words, from CPDL:
Ecce dominus veniet et omnes sancti ejus cum eo
et erit in die illa lux magna alleluia.

Behold, the Lord comes and all his saints with him
and on that day there will be great light, alleluia.

(The Psalm verses sung here come from Psalm 148:
1  Alleluja. Laudate Dominum de caelis; laudate eum in excelsis.
2  Laudate eum, omnes angeli ejus; laudate eum, omnes virtutes ejus.)

So here's a clear example of a text referring to the Second Coming, as was (and still is) the theme in late Pentecost (or Trinity) and early Advent.   The footnote at the Roman Breviary (1879) says that the text comes from Zechariah 14:5-6 - and that's this:
5 And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost.

Intriguing to see that the text of the antiphon reverses the second verse of the citation!  I love it when that happens.  Although I should point out, too, that a footnote at verse six notes that "Compare Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, Targum; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain."  And that verse 7 goes on to say:
And there shall be a unique[b] day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light.

So perhaps it doesn't actually count as a "reversal."  It's an odd text  in any case.

It's interesting to look at the other 4 Psalm antiphons for this day, too.  Here are all 5, which show up various arrangements of order in the manuscripts below:
1.  In illa die * stillabunt montes dulcedinem, et colles fluent lac et mel, alleluia.

2.  Iucundare * filia Sion, et exsulta satis filia Ierusalem, alleluia.

3.  Ecce Dominus veniet, * et omnes Sancti eius cum eo et erit in die illa lux magna, alleluia.

4.  Omnes sitientes * venite ad aquas quaerite Dominum, dum inveniri potest, alleluia.

5.  Ecce veniet * Propheta magnus, et ipse renovabit Ierusalem, alleluia.

1.  In that day * the mountains shall drop down sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk and honey. Alleluia.

2. Sing, O daughter of Zion, * and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. Alleluia.
3.  Behold, the LORD shall come, * and all His saints with Him ; and it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall be great. Alleluia.

4.  Ho, every one that thirsteth * come ye to the waters : seek ye the LORD while He may be found. Alleluia.

5.  Behold, a great Prophet * shall arise, and He shall build up a new Jerusalem. Alleluia.

These texts are all taken from the various Prophets of Advent:  Zechariah, Joel, Isaiah.  And they all do allude to both the First and Second Coming; that's one of the great things about Advent, to me:  it's not just one thing - and it's cosmic in a way that no other season really is.

At Cantus database, I've found some good, clear instances of Ecce Dominus veniet; it's quite easy to read and follow along with the scores.  You'll see that this melody is indeed the same as what's on the video, and is quite consistent between the manuscripts, too.   The antiphons all start with a highly decorated, larger capital letter, often in another color.

For instance, here's a page from a Fourteenth-century antiphoner from Klosterneuburg, Austria, used at the Augustiner-ChorherrenstiftEcce Dominus veniet is the 4th Lauds antiphon:

This one comes from the same monastery, but is 200 years earlier ("Twelfth-century antiphoner from Klosterneuburg, Austria").  Interesting to note the difference in musical notation styles!  This is the old style chant notation:

This one's from the Antiphonarium Benedictinum (1400), which comes from the Abbey of Sankt Lambrecht (Steiermark, Austria); here, Ecce Dominus veniet is the 3rd Lauds antiphon.

And this last one is from Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek / Codex 611(89) / f. 3r. ("14th-century antiphoner from the monastery of Einsiedeln, Switzerland.")  Ecce Dominus veniet was the 3rd Lauds antiphon at this monastery, too.

One of the interesting things, to me, about this text is that it shows up again, as the 2nd Responsory at Matins on Advent 2 - but includes another interesting bit of content:
R. Ecce Dominus veniet, et omnes Sancti ejus cum eo, et erit in die illa lux magna: et exibunt de Jerusalem sicut aqua munda: et regnabit Dominus in aeternum
* Super omnes gentes.
V. Ecce Dominus cum virtute veniet: et regnum in manu ejus, et potestas, et imperium.
R. Super omnes gentes.

R. Behold, the Lord shall come, and all His saints with Him, and it shall come to pass in that day that the light shall be great; and they shall go out from Jerusalem like clean water; and the Lord shall be King for ever,
* Over all the earth.
V. Behold, the Lord cometh with an host, and in His hand are the kingdom, and power, and dominion.
R. Over all the earth.

Recall that  Advent 2 is notable for its inclusion of references to Jerusalem, something I talked about last year.    Dom Dominic Johner points out, in his Chants of the Vatican Gradual, that:
[On Advent 2] the Introit, Gradual, and Communion speak of Sion, i.e., of Jerusalem.  The Alleluia-verse also alludes to this.  For at Rome the principal service was held in the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, close to the Lateran.  It was a royal palace; now it shelters a most venerable relic of the holy cross.  Our present Sion is the Catholic Church.  It is also our individual soul, and likewise the church building in which we look for the Redeemer today.  Here it is that we are being prepared for the heavenly Sion.

And so we have a preview of that emphasis on Sion at Matins by the addition of the extra text to the previous Sunday's Lauds antiphon, Ecce Dominus veniet
Behold, the Lord comes and all his saints with him
and on that day there will be great light, alleluia.

And shall go out from Jerusalem, like pure water.
And the Lord shall reign for ever over all the nations.

The reference to "pure water" is another bit of text from Zechariah 14 - this time, from verse 8:
On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.

(Revelation 22:1 picks up the theme later on, too:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb....)

I wish I had a sound file of this Responsory, but alas - I don't.  My plan going forward is to create files in MuseScore and post them, though; it'll be electronic music and without words, but at least we'll get the sense of how the chants sounded.

But Hieronymus Praetorius set this text, and I can post a video of that piece:

Here are all the mass propers for Advent 2, from and sung by the monks of St. Benedict's Monastery, Sao Paulo, Brazil:

Hebdomada secunda adventus
Introitus: Cf. Is. 30, 19.30; Ps. 79 Populus Sion (3m15.8s - 3061 kb) score
Graduale: Ps. 40, 2.3. V. 5 Ex Sion (2m50.7s - 2675 kb) score
Alleluia: Ps. 121, 1 Lætatus sum (2m11.2s - 2057 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 84, 7.8 Deus, tu convertens (2m01.6s - 1901 kb) score
Communio: Bar. 5, 5; 4, 36 Ierusalem, surge cum Ps. 147, 12.13 (1m56.7s - 1825 kb) score

Here are posts on Chantblog for the Advent 2 Propers:


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