Setting English Texts to Gregorian Psalm Tones
  • Recently I have seen several postings about setting English psalm texts to Gregorian psalm tones. I decided to post my own thoughts. I sat down to write this morning and ended up spending most of the day on the task. Since my essay extends to 11 pages and includes musical examples, I have elected to attach it as a .pdf.

    I hope that some will find it interesting and possibly helpful.
  • thank you!
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
  • You know what would be very useful? An Idiot's Guide to Psalm Singing. My impression is certainly that this is the most used yet least taught aspect of liturgical singing. Arlene studied this with Scott Turkington, and the Chant Intensive teaches it, but I've been hopelessly out of the loop for years on this, until very recently thanks to Arlene's help and a few other resources. She was talking about doing an article along these lines. Does anything like this exist, something that can take a typical parish cantor and help that person through a basic Psalm text to sing correctly?
  • An Idiot's guide that included MP3 recorded samples would be even more helpful . . . I read Bruce's paper, but I still feel like I would need to hear all the examples before I really "got" it . ..
  • that's really the issue. There is just know way to learn this with a book. You have study with someone and practice over a long time. It is interesting to me that studying music requires just about the same stuff now (time and teachers) as in the ancient world.
  • I understand Ligeti, John Cage and the harmony of Percy Grainger better than I understand adapting Gregorian Psalm tones to the English language T__T

    I'm just glad I'm not alone ^__^

    thanks again Bruce!
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Perhaps this is a case to draw the line at the "Idiot's Guide to..." series. I prefer to think when I am cantoring that it is a ministry that no idiot should be in. The people deserve better.

    Would you trust your cerebellum to a doc who waltzes in with "An Idiot's Guide to Brain Surgery" under his arm?!
  • I don't doubt that listening may be the best way to learn how to SING psalms. Whether one can learn much about pointing psalms (particularly English psalms) from listening is another question.

    Simple processes described in written words can sometimes seem more complex than they are, and explaining them lucidly can be uncannily difficult. I am not surprised that some people are finding the TEXT of my essay impenetrable, even though I struggled to make it lucid. I believe, however, that examining and SINGING the musical examples will make the meaning of the text much clearer. Doing so, I think, would be more helpful than listening to recorded singing.
  • I should say that I wasn't being literal with the title thing....
  • I think the title was tongue in cheek. I'm no idiot either, but I'm definately challenged by this subject. The recorded examples would be helpful because not all of us are visual learners - some are aural, others tactile. Us aural folks need a listening example and I imagine the tactile folks would need a hands-on walk-through . . .
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369

    I found your essay intimidatingly wonderful. But I only read it once. Very technical, but just the type of thing a type A personality like myself can't help but to sink my energies into. Before commenting further, I shall read it again. and again. But I will comment anyway. Just because I'm online right now and I find the topic riveting.

    One point that remains undiscussed in general (again, take this for what it is worth, at least until I read your piece again and find that I missed it...I will eat my words if that is the case)is the fact the English just isn't Latin. Since the tones were designed (for a lack of a better word) around the musicality and accent patterns of Latin, it just doesn't always make sense to be so dogmatic about their application to the English.

    Unlike the Anglicans, who devised their own system of tones for their English language, politics, and culture, we have to do some adapting as well. We are living now with a new and contemporary, Americanized English when it comes to the lectionary texts. If the choice in most parishes, who are doing the right thing, is to abandon the gradual for the RP for whatever reason, even if the rest of the propers are sung in the Mass, we've got to be creative and find something that works easily with the language. Something that evolves from tradition and ties us to tradition as closely as possible, i.e., ties us to the Gregorian psalm tones, but makes sense in deference to the language we hear and sing every week.

    English, with its many monosyllabic words is so different from Latin. The accents, wherever we chose to place them,when applied to a cadence, can change the emphasis of the text in one or five different ways. This has to be taken into account.

    I do think that a simple guide to help get people started with the Gregorian tones, how to apply them (to the Latin), how to read them, just the basics, is in order. Something that isn't hidden the back of a text book, although there are many fine guides available, such as we see in the Marier Gregorian Chant Masterclass. But being too prescriptive when applying them to English, at a basic level like this, opens up too many questions of semantics, artistry, theology, to name a few.

    This is more of a linguistic, sociological problem,I think, than is addressed in your scholarly and very fine analysis of applying the tones to English, or vice versa. There is a fine and dangerous line, of course, between making English language Psalm texts solemn and singable and sound Catholic within the context of the liturgy, and altering the tones to the degree that their Gregorian roots become very remote indeed. It is a huge undertaking, and I am very pleased that you took the time to add to our understanding of the subject.
  • A very interesting and informative discussion, Bruce. I have seen next to no treatments of Gregorian psalmtones as applied to English texts, certainly none as (potentially) thorough as yours.

    I'm not sure recourse to Cardine is particularly helpful, except to support your rhetorical point. The fact is, most people interested in Gregorian psalmtones will use the Liber usualis as their primary source. The discussion there may reflect a classic Solesmes bias (i.e., the rhythmic theories promoted by Mocquereau and Gajard), which are tending toward out-of-favor these days. However, I don't think it necessarily impedes successful and musical recitation of psalmody (even without recourse to syneresis and other theoretical arcana).

    Once absorbed through frequent and consistent singing of the Psalms (best done in the context of the Divine Office), the Liber method can then be applied to vernacular texts, using the inherent musical taste and common sense of the singer/adaptor. That common sense will take as many forms as there are singers/adaptors, no doubt. We have all heard Gregorian psalmtones applied to English texts in a manner that severely distorts the original melodies, with eccentric and inconsistent results. Those eccentricities, if they are not the result of a facile understanding of the original Latin formulas, usually reflect an honest attempt to maintain proper English declamation, often at the expense of the melodies.

    Having wrestled with this issue for a couple decades, I would suggest the real problem is an inflated sense of "proper English declamation." English hymnals are filled with texts that defy the metrical demands of the music for a given stanza. Such metrical anomalies are in the nature of poetry, which would be much the poorer without them. When we sing these hymns, we accommodate their anomalies, not by distorting the music, but by a momentary mental shift that reorders our rhythmic priorities. This is second nature to us by now.

    Surely, the same can be done when we sing English prose on psalmtones. Your examples of problematic accentuation, like the one on page 7, leave me scratching my head. I just don’t hear the problem. In my experience, nearly any Gregorian formula can be used effectively with any English text, if it is sung musically, with an ear to proper English diction.

    As suggestive as it might be, it is not the melodic rhythm that determines the textual rhythm. The two are independent phenomena. It is in the subtle weaving of the two—sometimes reinforcing one another, sometimes at odds—that the magic of chant shines forth. So, when we encounter a line of florid chant on a word of several syllables, in which the accented syllable receives a single punctum, while the unaccented syllables surrounding it receive complex neumes (as so often happens), we need not distort the music by unduly lengthening the accented syllable. It is sufficient merely to note it, to mark it, to appreciate it, in a way that is bound to be perceived aurally. The text is thus declaimed, while the musicality of the line is preserved. That was the primary rationale behind Mocquereau's theory, and it remains to this day the least understood and most often caricatured.

    This is why I find Cardine's assertion fundamentally flawed. "All styles of 'Gregorian' chant are, in fact, vehicles for declamation." Well, sure. But only because they are used to declaim sacred texts in the context of liturgy. But take away the text, and the music remains. It has its own declamatory imperative, its own rhythmic integrity (irrespective of how one chooses to parse that rhythm), and its own rhetorical impact. To deny those is to deny Gregorian chant its status as music.

    So, when it comes to applying Gregorian psalmtones to English texts (or Latin, for that matter), I am very reluctant to manipulate the melodic formula to enhance my (quaintly naive) understanding of the word accents. Let the formulas stand on their own, in both their integrity and flexibility. And let the singers prove that flexibility, by their intelligent and sensitive singing of the text.
    Thanked by 1SkirpR
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    "It is in the subtle weaving of the two—sometimes reinforcing one another, sometimes at odds—that the magic of chant shines forth. So, when we encounter a line of florid chant on a word of several syllables, in which the accented syllable receives a single punctum, while the unaccented syllables surrounding it receive complex neumes (as so often happens), we need not distort the music by unduly lengthening the accented syllable. It is sufficient merely to note it, to mark it, to appreciate it, in a way that is bound to be perceived aurally. The text is thus declaimed, while the musicality of the line is preserved."

    Very nicely stated, Richard. This is where music and words meet, and something magical happens. This is where the artistry enters the scene.

    Lets assume your position that we should stick as closely as possible to the tones with minimal or no manipulation. Are we to assume that each psalmist has the ability to pull this off? Who shall point the Psalms? Who shall be responsible for their successful delivery?

    Different people have different gifts. We wouldn't want to go to Mass and listen to a lector stumbling over every word, or reading too slowly, or too quickly, or with an unintelligable foreign accent, or even one who pauses - unnecessarily in odd places - in the middle of - sentences, slowing down the pace and obscuring the narrative. But is the Sunday morning psalmist who is handed a pointed text, even a fully written out setting of the verses, going to be able to perform the task successfully merely because the tones have been adhered to doggedly for fear of obscuring the Gregorian melodies, or lack of confidence in deciding which words should be accented and how?

    I see much merit in Bruce's formulaic method - if in fact setting the Pslams in English to the Gregorian tones is what we decide in the end is one of the best solutions the the RP problem. Not every psalmist has the facility with language, or your subtle understanding of the the musical lines at hand - both that of the melody and that of the language. It is a practical solution, especially for "joe psalmist" off the street, as would seem to be the norm in lots of small parishes.

    But if a person, a composer, or even a would be psalmist, has an understanding of the rules as Bruce sets forth and possesses a sense of language and enough artistry to vary the formula, even slightly, why not? There are times for sticking to the rules. And there are times to abandon them. Not entirely, of course, but for the sake of a beauty that even Mocquereau wouldn't have been able to fathom in the case of the English language.

    Does doing this mean Gregorian chant, because slight adjustments might be made to the melodies to accommodate yet another beauty - another lanugage - lose its status as music in its own right? I don't think so. Gregorian chant and its tones lose nothing of their status in our tradition and in our text books, and in pure performance of the Latin texts during the liturgy, but isn't there room for development born of necessity?
  • I'm also struck by Richard's case for Mocquereau (the point would probably apply to Pothier too). Reading Cardine, I've wondered whether he and his school of thought have really gone too far with this declamation idea, disproportionately focusing on text at the expense of art. One detects a hint of the rationalism of the Medicean school of chant at work here. It is very interesting to look at the 1867 Gradual we have online and see what they did to the chant. They had a strict idea in mind: no melismas on off accents, primacy of text over music, declamation trumps art. So it helps in understanding Mocq what it is he (and Pothier) were trying to repair and displace. I'm not at all well schooled in these debates but it is not a stretch to see the possibility of a repeat of the same errors that developed after Trent now affecting the Cardine school. In fact, if you read Fr. Ruff's book, he quotes Cardine followers who specifically and overtly deny that chant is music at all, a contention that Fr. Ruff rejects but one which shows where this line of thought can lead.
  • Having wrestled myself with setting English texts to Gregorian psalm tones myself for a number of years, I have to agree with Richard. The Gregorian tones have their own melodic integrity (especially for those of us who have the wonderful rhythm of the Latin in their ears) which should not be sacrificed in order to rigidly serve the demands of text accentuation. After all, clarity of declamation is not only a matter of proper accents, but also of bringing out the *meaning* of the text, which is also served by emphasizing certain words in a phrase, not simply the accented syllables. In other words, each verse has "macro" accents on the level of the phrase (in addition to the "micro" accents within words) which must be recognized if the meaning is to be clear. That is one of the virtues of the "Elizabethan" style texts - they had enough "stuff" in them to have these macro accents (compare "Lord, have mercy upon us," to the current "Lord, have mercy" - the word "mercy" in the first text is the natural "accent" of the entire phrase).

    Having said this, one does come across certain English texts /translations that defy a simple solution (like "He shall come down like rain upon the mown field" - which to me is just awkward English).

    Sam Schmitt
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    I don't think anyone is wanting to apply a formula so rigid that it only looks at the accents. But it could be useful in the real world - where pastors expect their music directors to present congregations with English RPs every week.

    And Sam, you are right that declamation involves bringing across the meaning of the text and is not just about accents. And yes, the Gregorian melodies have an integrity of their own that speaks, or sings, rather, volumes. I do not agree, however, that you can always apply it to English successfully and that its beauty will always shine forth. Sometimes it just makes for a clumsy combination. This discussion can go on and on, and I'm pretty certain we'd be in agreement about just about everything if we were to sit down with a Psalm tone and and English text and decide what to do with it.

    There are definite rules that apply to Latin psalm pointing. One can look them up anywhere. There is no such guide for doing so in English, save, for example, what Mr. Ford has just presented us with. If there are others, please fill me in.

    On a practical level, and that is my real concern from week to week, we are also having deal with setting the ridiculously short antiphons from the Lectionary. How does one go about about applying five monosyllabic English words to one of the tones? Well, maybe you don't. Maybe you compose a melody in the mode. MAybe you just compose something else and come up with some structure for the verses. But I think if you can compose something that is derived from a specific Psalm tone - give it a meaningful and strong beginning, perhaps a reference to the mediant cadence or flex, a clear center on a reciting note, you will come up with something that will slip nicely in between a stricter application of the English verses set to the closest possible approximation of the Gregorian tones (I'm a renegade, what can I say...) People have got to sing these things, or your pastor will say you are not doing your job. If the antiphon contains elements of the sung verses, especially the final cadence, you can be sure they will nail it every time. And in time, they will have heard strict applications of the different tones - and don't even know it. They think they are just singing things that are easy to sing. What an education.
  • Allow the other Dr. Ford to offer the Note to Scholars written for By Flowing Waters: Chant for the Liturgy.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Thank you, to both of the Doctors Ford.
  • I would hate to be considered an arch-conservative on the point. But surely, it's better to use newly-formulated psalmtones, that capture the spirit of the Gregorian models, than distort the Latin tones to fit the vernacular. Of course, somebody might try translating the Psalms with an eye and ear to avoiding the declamatory problems so often encountered. (There was a "new singing translation" of the Psalms some years back, but no nod to the Latin declamation had it, by any stretch.) Alternatively, I am not terribly reluctant to change a line of psalmody as it stands in the Missal, using another approved translation, if it sings better. And, quite frankly, if it is true that...

    "Not every psalmist has the facility with language, or your subtle understanding of the the musical lines at hand - both that of the melody and that of the language. [AOZ]"

    ...perhaps said psalmist might seek a ministry more reflective of his or her talents. Does it really take that much subtly to sing a line of text intelligently and intelligibly? In that case, maybe we *should* be reciting them instead.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    "But surely, it's better to use newly-formulated psalmtones, that capture the spirit of the Gregorian models, than distort the Latin tones to fit the vernacular." [RR]

    What does that really mean? Aren't you just twisting words around a bit? Are you saying that a totally new set of tones be devised that has nothing at all to do with the Latin tones? Where should they come from? The Flintstones theme song?

    We're all working toward the same end here. And to the point about psalmists being created equally: well, they're just not. But you've got to work with what you've got.
  • Having started this discussion by expressing my own views at length, I know that I ought not to say more; but I cannot resist the temptation.

    To Paul Ford-- I don't have a doctorate. You are the only "Dr. Ford" engaged in this discussion. By the way, I happen to be in Collegeville right now, visiting Anthony Ruff.

    To Jeffrey Tucker--How can you speak of "text at the expense of art"? Doesn't the essence of Gregorian art lie in the marriage of text and music. Mocquereau and Pothier would have said that it does as readily as Cardine.

    To Richard R--The psalm tones given in the Liber Usualis were not dictated by the heavenly dove into the ear of St. Gregory and then published by Desclee in four-line notation. (I don't really suppose that you think so. I'm just trying to make a point.) They evolved over a long period of time and took forms that varied from place to place. For a shock take a look at the forms found in a very early source, the "Commemoratio Brevis," which are reproduced in Ferretti's "Estetica gregoriana." (1934. Reprinted by AMS Press, 1977). Pothier, who edited the Vatican edition of the chant, chose from among the local variants the ones he liked best. This morning I had the opportunity to examine an 1895 Solesmes publication in which the rules for pointing differed considerably from those given in the Vatican edition, and in which the forms of the abrupt mediation in tones 1 and 7 upon which I based my suggested treatment of certain proximate accents were included. (These forms are not found in the Vatican ed.) As much precedent can be found for placing the epentheses (in these and other cadences) on the pitches of the notes that precede them as for placing them on the pitches of the notes that follow them (g-g-a versus g-a-a and d-d-e versus d-e-e). So does precedent of use of syneresis to accommodate proximate accents. Therefore, I cannot agree that it is fair to speak of "distorting Latin tones to fit the vernacular."

    Also, what was the connection you were attempting to make between accents of isolation (which occur in melismatic chant) and psalm tones?

    Bruce Ford
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    This is like the fascinating I have ever seen, because here we have all these experts frankly sharing their thoughts!


    Thank you, Jeffrey and Aristotle, for making all this possible!

    May God be praised.

    Most of what I would have added to this discussion has already been said above. However, I would like to point out one thing:

    With regards to the Psalm tones as given in the Vatican Edition, there are different ways of performing those, depending on the last accent. I treat this in the Introduction to the NOVA ORGANI HARMONIA (which is available for free download). In general, the French only elongate the last syllable (e.g. in mode 2 or mode 8) whereas the Germans will elogate both, if the accent is on the penultimate. Both ways are allowed by the Vatican Rules for Interpretation. And this DEFINITELY affects the English rendition.
  • "what was the connection you were attempting to make between accents of isolation (which occur in melismatic chant) and psalm tones?"

    Merely to counter the tendency of many (probably not yourself) to split two-note neumes in the formula to accommodate two syllables of English text, if doing so "makes more sense" vis the English declamation. That, and the idea that melodic skips of any sort or direction are indicative of a textual accent, seem overblown to me. I'm really just trying to keep the concept as simple as possible, and I can't help thinking the method given in my 1934 Liber more than adequate to the task. (Nor can I help thinking that fussing over proximate accents and the like makes for much better results.) I will say, however, that the discussion in the Liber was greatly amplified after somebody translated the pertinent Latin explanation in the Antiphonale for me (De quibusdam clausulis syllabicis). On the other hand, I might well be persuaded, were I exposed to your approach in practice over time.

    Or we could all just go Gelineau, and be done with it.
  • "What does that really mean? Aren't you just twisting words around a bit? Are you saying that a totally new set of tones be devised that has nothing at all to do with the Latin tones? Where should they come from? The Flintstones theme song?" [AOZ]

    I may be twisting words, but I think I said explicitly that tones for the English could be derived from the Latin tones (to great advantage). Let's just be careful what we call them. Gregorian psalmtones sung in Latin require only the most subtle alterations to fit a given line (at least as I practice them). The frequency with which such alterations are necessary when setting the English (single syllable accents at the ends of lines, proximate accents in the formulas, etc.) turn those subtleties into something too coarse and vulgar to be called Gregorian, in my mind anyway. I'm pretty sure this is more than just a matter of semantics.

    As for the Flintstones...
  • Ha ha ha! Ok, after doubling over in crazed laughter to the point of hurting, I'm realizing Richard that this is very dangerous indeed, in that we might see it appear in next season's Missalette. On the other hand, that would be a great improvement.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    RR - What a magnificent rendering of a tone that predates mere Gregorian Chant by some 50,000 years.

    Cave Cantum Cavernarum.

    You are truly a scary man with way too much time on your hands!
  • Actually, the more I sing this, the more I like it!
  • Thank you, Richard. I love it! And it would work even better in Anglican Chant (and then some one could chant the weather forecast using it!).

    I use the tone VI Alleluia at the Noon Mass every weekday. I have heard tone VIII used with the tone VI Antiphon, and I don't like that. I only use tone VI because it bears such a resemblance to the melody of the Alleluia. And I do make various adjustments to the verse melody, as described above. I would like to point out that, unlike Anglican chant, the Gregorian tones have different cadence patterns in each tone. So, being able to use a variety of all 8 tones (9 if you include Perigrinus) would be one goal to shoot for. But people would need to learn some of the Gregorian Alleluias to go along with the tones for the verses.

    That would be good also.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369

    I've gone through a conversion experience. I'm ready to accept you, Richard, as my personal bard and saviour!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    We know Richard is funning, but on what grounds could one stop such as setting from being sung at the Mass?

    It's tuneful, many people already know it, and it's chipper. Just the thing for grey Sunday mornings! Plus, it "sacralizes" pagan culture! What's not to like?
  • So Pes knows the answer. The Flintstones is still in syndication, so this would amount to a secularization of the sacred, not the reverse.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Even if it weren't still in syndication, you can imagine that a flood of secular melody into church culture would have the effect of demolishing any distinction between sacred and profane. We've seen such a demolition every Sunday for the past forty years.

    Is this what the Church wanted, or wants? No. Why? Because it does not help to sanctify the faithful. It puts the church permanently on the defensive. It makes the church say, "we have no distinctive culture of our own." The church accepts every offering, and proposes nothing.

    If people are okay with this, then there should be no objection to hiring a "death metal" band to play, say, a Tenebrae service.

    At that point, the demolition of Roman Catholic culture will be complete, since it will have demonstrated zero willingness even to defend its sanctuary.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,343
    A classic, destined to join Aristotle's Missa Na na hae hae in the oral tradition of the CMAA.
  • "...there should be no objection to hiring a "death metal" band to play, say, a Tenebrae service."

    Well, maybe, but that would be more an issue of performance style and aesthetics. Even I would be hard pressed to transform death metal into psalmtone, only because death metal, which has such a good (tire iron against the cranium) beat, has next to nothing in the way of melodic material. You dead heads, correct me if I'm wrong.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Chonak - are you familiar with the Missa Oklahomus? You're in for a treat...
  • In the spirit of "There's One in Every Crowd"...where's the bridge?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,343
    This thread is turning into a script for cabaret night. :-)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Next thing you know we'll have hymns to the tune of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,889
    RR: You might not want to distribute the pdf... I thought the same thing as Jeffrey... it will probably wind up in OCP's new chant section. (they do publish chant, don't they?!)
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    RR - If I may make so bold, I would suggest the following modification to the third verse.
  • Re: Prehistoric tones

    I commend the use of syneresis to accommodate the proximate accents at "law day and night."

    Cur quod Frederico licet non Gregorio licendum est?

    Bruce Ford
  • "I would suggest the following modification..."

    Oh yes, that makes it infinitely more unsingable... which is saying something. OCP won't touch it now.

    Fred, being pre-covenant, is bound to his conscience and the natural law, rather than to particular Catholic... er... dogma. Which means he has a better shot at heaven than the likes of me.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,343
    Fragments of this manuscript are turning up here too.

    (Horrible music, but it's beautifully typeset with the help of "gregorio", the free open-source software for chant typesetting.)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,889
    chonak... this is EXACTLY how the beer hall tunes of yesteryear get into our hymnals! Now, Stop it!!!!
  • Anyone have 9th century signs for this newly discovered material?
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    I don't know about the 9th century signs, but here's some other newly discovered material. This was uncovered in the 1960s (but suppressed by Bugnini) in an alpine monastery somewhere near the Swiss/Austrian border. Seems to be a contemporary of the prehistoric tone. Notice the mnemonic - suggests frequent and varied use.
  • AOZ: It came without ribbons... it came without tags... it came without packages, boxes, or bags...
  • Now that tone is stuck in my head! One can easily see how this is passed on for so many hundreds of years.
  • will someone please point me in the right direction to something that tells me how to sing "A E O U" etc., I don't know what it is or how to sing it. I'm not getting the jokes :(

  • We don't need to necessarily reinvent the wheel. We can look into other wheels already in use.

    I had the great privilege of attending the Investiture Ceremony of the Sovereign Order of Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem this past Sunday. It was also my first visit to NYC. The liturgy was at the Russian Orthodox Cathedral on East 2nd Street. Most of the chanting was in English, and VERY different from anything Roman or Anglican! The verse was not in speech rhythm, but rather in 1/8 notes (maybe even 1/16 notes, depending on your perspective). Then each cadence slowed down to 1/4 and 1/2 notes. It was in harmony. It caught me by surprise (I had only been to Byzantine Rites Liturgies) but I got used to it quickly.

    Bottom line: there's more than one way to chant.