Benoit “Where Charity and Love Prevail”
  • Why does WLP publish this without attributing the melody to the “Veni, redemptor gentium” melody?

    It’s pretty much note-for-note, excepting the changes necessary to go from iambic tetrameter to common meter.
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,185
    It also appears in GIA published hymnals.

    I think the reason is because although we can discern that the tunes are similar, they aren't identical. In essence, with the altered notes, imposition of modern rhythm and crafting of an accompaniment, it really ceases to be "Veni, Redemptor" and becomes a new creation.

    Simply because there are similarities, it doesn't follow that there must be direct attribution.

    Also, aren't chants essentially the common property of the Church, and therefore if a Benedictine, or anyone else, modifies and chant like this, the composer can be credited for it? What do we say about chant melodies and other tunes that are currently being composed that draw their inspiration from, or even directly quote, other chants? Since Benedictines (which Benoit was, as well as organist of the Abbey of Clairvaux) are so steeped in chant all the time, what are the chances that something he writes is going to perhaps quote some other chant that's in his "blood"?
  • Yes, indeed. I've long thought that a modern composer could make a darn good living pirating chant melodies, dropping four notes, and signing his name to it (and, eventually, the royalty checks). Of course, that doesn't exactly promote the idea of the Church's "common property"...
  • It's no secret that many early Protestant musicians (including Martin Luther) based their chorales on plainchant: "Christ lag in Todensbanden" on the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes, "Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, heiliger Geist" on Veni Creator Spiritus, and of course, ""Nun komm der Heiden Heliand" on Veni Redemptor Gentium, among many others. And since the chorales were originally intended to be sung simply as melodies (without harmonization), they could be considered "vernacular chant."

    I tend to agree with david andrew, though - Benoit's melody stands on its own.

    Sam Schmitt
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 828
    Yes, Benoit was deeply involved in chant, and composed many organ works on Chant. I am not sure if Benoit adapted the melody or someone at WPL did. It's quite odd, since no other hymns of Benoit's exist.
  • I've always found it strange that these publishers think that changing a few notes entitles them to an entirely new copyright protection, not just copyright on new matter. It doesn't work this way with text, after all. I can't just take the paragraph above and change a word and claim it is wholly mine. It has to be substantially changed in every way. otherwise, only the new matter is mine. there must be a case history related to music composition, but i don't know it. My guess is that case history yields ambiguous results. I surely have doubts that many, many of the songs to which GIA and OCP claim copyright and from which they collect royalties wouldn't stand up to serious challenge. But who who time or money or incentive to challenge this? Meanwhile, I don't think there is any doubt that some of this music is changed in a few areas solely in order to justify a new proprietary legal arrangement. I long for some accountability here.
  • To answer Sam and David:

    I mean, literally, he dropped four notes. It is identical otherwise.

    The odds seem to be pretty astronomical that Benoit, especially if he was indeed deeply involved in chant, created this melody anew.
  • I'll defer to ghmus7's expertise in this matter. He made an in-depth study of the life and music of Benoit as part of his doctoral work, and played an admirable recital of Benoit's organ works that have really been relatively obscure to most organists (although I was playing the 50 Elevations and pieces from the Pieces d'Orgue for many years before I heard this recital).

    Cheers, ghmus7!