Friday, August 01, 2008

O God, come to my assistance - Sunday Vespers

Perhaps I mentioned at some point my ongoing project to set a simply chanted Sunday Vespers to sing weekly at my parish? I went about typing the texts and setting music in the hopes that the more I had done before pitching it to our pastor and choir director the more likely it'd be to get started. I stalled for a while, stuck on the strange canticle from Revelation. But thanks to a tip from this discussion on the Musica Sacra forums, I was able to move ahead and finish the main part of the project (minus readings and propers for Advent, Lent and Easter).

Here is the result presented for review: (See edited links at bottom).

If you are so inclined, could you offer feedback? Specifically regarding the pointing of the antiphons and psalms:

1) Are any of the chant tones really ugly or awkward?

2) I used the simple method employed by the editors of the Mundelein Psalter. The italic syllable is where you first change pitch. Each note after the change corresponds to one syllable with any extras falling on the last note. And also the final note should correspond to the final accented syllable in the phrase. I had some difficulties following this last rule with the antiphons for Psalm 110. Making the final syllable line up with the last note over-emphasized an insignificant word or awkward syllable.

3) I originally wanted to keep the "official" text for everything. For the Magnificat (Canticle of Mary) the traditional tone I used works poorly. I have a better arrangement from The Hymnal (1940) but it uses King James English. It's beautiful, but not "official." I'm leaning toward using the different translation unless someone can offer a way to fix my version.

As a beneficial aside, I also set the English translations of two traditional hymns from the Divine Office in square notes. They look nice and are wonderful to sing. Feel free to use and distribute these as you like (all text and music is common domain):

Lucis Creator optime - Sunday, II Vespers, odd weeks
O Lux, beata Trinitas - Sunday, II Vespers, even weeks

Head over to my friend Geometricus' blog Hymnos Debitos Canamus for helpful info about these and many other hymns of the Divine Office!

EDIT: Here are the updated booklets in PDF files, the first combined, one for Ordinary Time and one for Advent:
COMBINED - This booklet has multiple antiphons for each psalm depending upon the season. I moved away from this, thinking instead to have different booklets for different seasons.
ORDINARY TIME - Simplified layout with only the OT antiphons for each psalm.
ADVENT - Psalms have antiphons for advent only. Hymns are english translations of the the proper Advent hymns from Liturgiam Horarum, Conditor alme siderum and Verbum salutis omnium, set to a tune from the Liber Usualis. I also selected a different chant tone for the Advent Responsory and Magnificat.

They are set in half-sheet size (5.5"x8.5") for printing as a booklet on 8.5"x11" letter paper. I decided to just use the latin Magnificat. The booklets have everything you need to pray Sunday II Vespers for Ordinary Time and Advent except the Magnificat antiphons and final prayer. It seemed too much work to try and type and included these in a section that you'd have to flip to anyways. I plan to just look them up from another psalter when praying.

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