Hymn text: prayer of St. Michael the Archangel
  • Esteemed colleagues: I know many of you are hymn writers...I would like some feedback on my attempt at arranging the prayer of St. Michael for 7676D. I have in the mind the tune AURELIA and to use it as a recessional hymn, but I want it to be good enough.

    Saint Michael the Archangel
    Defend us in the fight.
    And be for us protection
    From Satan's wicked might.
    Great Prince, through God's own power,
    Cast into hell, we pray
    All fallen angels seeking
    For souls to lead astray.
  • the phrase ' may god rebuke him' should not be left out imho. Its is an important part of that prayer.
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    My creative sons, as a bedtime prayer, set the St. Michael to the theme from He-Man. It's hard not to chuckle!
    Thanked by 2bonniebede eft94530
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,682
    I'm wondering if someone more clever than I could set the text of this prayer to the tune MICHAEL.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,000
    I'm wondering if someone more clever than I could set the text of this prayer to the tune MICHAEL.

    Wouldn't that be rather like Cinderella's stepsisters trying to fit their feet to the glass slippers? MICHAEL has metre 87. 87. 33. 7, while the text above is 76. 76. D ... not even the same number of lines.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,682
    I meant writing an entire new hymn based on the prayer.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,000
    I meant writing an entire new hymn based on the prayer.

    Oh. Well, the (short form) of the St. Michael prayer has approximately 90 syllables (not poetic, of course), while the tune MICHAEL has 43 syllables (with a specific poetic meter). Therefore, it seems that any attempt to set a (poetic) adaptation of the original text to MICHAEL would very likely require at least two stanzas.
  • I think it needs 2 stanzas as well, as it is of course very abbreviated. Or a longer tune
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,671
    The linkage of the last two lines is unripe and needs further work. "Seek for" doesn't work. Seek [object] or Search for [object] work.

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen lmassery
  • It works to ST. THEODULPH
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • I tried again, stretching it to fit 2 verses. Better or worse than the first time?

    O glorious st. Michael,
    Archangel of the Lord,
    Be our defense in battle,
    We pray with one accord.
    Against the snares of Satan,
    Protect us here today.
    Through Jesus’ name rebuke him,
    We humbly dare to pray.

    O Glorious St. Michael
    Great Prince of Heaven’s hosts,
    O vanquisher of demons
    And guardian of souls.
    Through God, Who grants you power,
    Cast into hell, we pray
    All fallen angels searching
    For souls to lead astray.
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,000
    Much better!
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • Both Francis and I independently and unknowingly once both wrote hymn tunes to a text that was presented to the group by a hymn writer.

    He and I both were independently chastised, and that's putting it mildly, for having the nerve to write music for something that this hymn writer had posted. Extremely rude and violent postings put me off (and maybe him as well) from ever writing a tune to any of these resident "wordsmiths" who post texts but don't want anyone singing them to a tune that they have not requested and approved.

    What I am saying is that undoubtedly others have been burnt with this same stick...so if anyone posts wonderful efforts like this, it would pay to mention that if anyone would like to submit a tune it would be welcome.

    For me that tune wasn't discarded but ended up in sealing a wonderful partnership by a true Wordsmith of the Church, Vincent Uher.

    Now that man can write hymns. And he's not out for the bucks in it, which seems to have turned some...
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen lmassery
  • In that case, I will mention that I would be honored if anyone attempts to contribute their own tune to my text. Anyone is free to use or alter this text however they see fit. I am also open to anyone submitting improved versions.
    Thanked by 2lmassery Wendi
  • Here's a go, reduced from a more grandiose edition I attempted a few years ago.

    Think T. Tertius Noble or Ralph Vaughn Williams for tempo and (necessary) organ accompaniment
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • This is off-topic, but Wendi sent me a Byzantine chant version of this prayer which my choir has taken to rather quickly. I think if anyone wants it, and asks Wendi real nice, she'll be obliging and give it to you. :)
  • Wendi? - pretty please?
  • I would send a copy, lmassery, but I'm too lazy to look through all the files on my computer at the moment. (It's Miller Time.)
  • Heath
    Posts: 901
    Luke, I'll plan on using this text this coming Monday, thanks!
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • rob
    Posts: 148
    Me too, as a post-lude on Sunday, hearkening back to the Leonine prayers and in anticipation of Monday.

    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • OlbashOlbash
    Posts: 311
    Here's a feeble attempt to meet Meloche's challenge (set the prayer to MICHAEL) composed over a few beers at the local saloon after five Masses:

    O Saint Michael, Great Archangel,
    Strong Protector in the fight,
    From all Satan's snares defend us,
    Let our Judge set evil right.
    Prowl they may, day by day,
    Demons with thy dagger slay.
  • @ Noel

    Hoping that constructive criticism of the tune is acceptable, I wonder if it would be better with the first word of the third line ("Be") as a pickup, matching the rhythm of the first/second line, avoiding the two eighth-note bit between the third and fourth lines. Something like what I mean is already there in the pickup to the last system.
  • Great suggestion, let me try this, thanks!

    Thanked by 1willschill
  • Shamelessly bumping this thread in anticipation of the Feast of the Archangels on Sept 29th. This represents my one and only contribution to the realm of online sacred music :)
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    I'm so sorry I didn't see this before. Here is a link to the chant.


    I introduce this to every choir I sing with. Heaven knows we need the prayer right now. Two churches in the area sing this after the "High Mass" every Sunday. I know the OF doesn't really HAVE a high Mass per se, which is why that's in quotes.
  • willschill
    Posts: 12
    Great suggestion, let me try this, thanks!

    May I use this for a hymn at my church? We are St. Leo the Great, and St. Leo's feast day falls on a Saturday (Nov. 10).
  • WendiWendi
    Posts: 638
    The link above no longer works, so attached is the pdf file...also a link to a recording our choir director just uploaded so you can hear what it sounds like....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVbPmP7p5OM
  • Friends, I am offering my hymn based on the prayer of St. Michael (above) on this website:


    I provide the text, Organ score for two different hymn tunes, PDFs and high res PNGs of the melody (300 px/in), and original musescore files for your transposing pleasure.

    additionally, scroll down for a setting of the entrance antiphon hymn for the Sept 29 Feast of the Archangels.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,682
    I’m not sure about the second syllable in power, at least to AURELIA.
  • You mean that it’s a weak syllable? The original church’s one foundation puts a weak syllable on that note 3 times so it didn’t both me but I see what you mean
  • francis
    Posts: 10,081
    Actually, when singing english it is better to reduce those kinds of words to a single syllable, 'pow'r'. Another examples is the word heav'n,
  • davido
    Posts: 656
    There’s nothing wrong with that treatment of power
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,000
    Some shortenings (shortnings):
    glorious - gloryus
    power - powr
    shower - showr
    spirit - sprit or speert
    seven - sevn
    heaven - heavn
    you all - yall
    particularly - particurly
    syllable - slabble
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CGM
    Posts: 583
    I prefer "sillble" for syllable
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • I’ll admit that my stretching of glorious to 3 syllables is not perfect but I’m used to it now
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Quick shout out to Wendi for that awesome Byzantine version. I decided to tweak it a little bit for my choir (changed the emPHAsis in two or three places and engraved it to my liking). Note I am not a Byzantine chant expert by any means... so perhaps I broke a rule or two, but this seems to fit english a little more idiomatically whilst (I hope) still respecting the form of the chant. Score attached.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen francis
  • The use of this tone that I am familiar with is for a particular chant from Ruthenian Byzantine Matins, "Having beheld the Resurrection", in a hand-written realization that our head cantor had picked up somewhere, and had us sing for Easter Matins. I haven't done any pottering around to find original sources, but my understanding is that the Ruthenians have borrowed the tone from a different tradition. The modern Matins book which the MCI website provides for provisional use cites it as "Kievan chant, Tone 6 Samohlas", but their arrangement is inartistic.


    Kind of cheeky to modify Jernberg's work. I think as a whole his arrangement is balanced, coherent, and tastefully done. There is something to be said for using a composition as is.

    The original arrangement by Jernberg has no bar lines. He in fact carries over the final note of each of the the first two phrases into pickups of the next phrase. To me, that creates a judgement problem, in that now you have to decide with each phrase whether to do that. Jernberg's solution, which has a kind of symmetry, is that he does it twice, and then leaves it out of the rest of the piece.

    I think he takes this approach also with some of the cadences: "angel" and "battle" are treated the same way and balance nicely; and then later "devil" (which to me is odd) is made to work by doing the same thing with "spirits".

    One aspect of the harmony that I have always disagreed with is the way the lower voices continue with D's while the top voices do G-with-E. The version that I have sung simply put an Emin chord here, the same as under the other G's. This has the advantage that it can support emphasis, which I think the original tone does give it. I am curious as to whether this is an innovation of Jernberg's, or whether he had some source that did that.

    I have no clear idea of how the end phrase typically goes, as I have only seen one or two examples of it. I wonder whether it ought to have multiple notes on the Gmaj chord, but I don't really have enough data to critique this. The syllabification of the descending notes fits with his other cadences, which is a plus.

    The further adaptation by @ServiamScores has its own coherency, but makes the blurring of the cadences of the original tone much more prevalent. The first two phrases may to some ears respect the text better, but on the other hand they have eliminated two of the few solid one-syllable-per-note instances that are probably the most desirable form of cadence. The Gmaj on "Host" takes the cake: that is in fact the first note of the next phrase, the notes on "heavenly" are normally the cadence. So it is quite an elision, whether that was intentional or not. To me, overall this takes a couple of the little things Jernberg did, and makes them the new norm, for a very fluid result.

    Just to add to the chaos and confusion, I am attaching a possible realization which I did, which illustrates a couple of my thoughts. NB: I am not proposing this for use. I am not sure if I like it (especially doubtful about the ending), but I had to get it out of my system. Clear cut phrases.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen rich_enough
  • [duplicate comment deleted]
  • Kind of cheeky to modify Jernberg's work. I think as a whole his arrangement is balanced, coherent, and tastefully done.

    I agree the original was tastefully done, and so is your version. And as I acknowledged above, it was possible (probable) that I bent some rules which someone who lives in a Byzantine chant world would recognize immediately, but someone with my Roman ears would not.

    As for adapting Jernberg's work, it was shared publicly on a forum and it is the application of formulaic chant tones, not some original thru-composed work. The latter would perhaps be cheeky, however an adjustment of how a psalm tone is applied seems hardly egregious to me.

    I also often disagree with how some people apply anglican chant tones (and don't get me started on gregorian tones with english text... talk about needing to bend some rules!). I don't feel that I'm somehow harming the work by shifting emphases to places that feel more natural to me. I've discovered that if I do not do this for my choir, they will often sing it wrong anyway, because sometimes it just feels very natural to sing certain phrases certain ways based on the natural pattern of speech—formulas be damned.

    As for the cadences, yours are indeed interesting observations and I marvel at how three of us have now applied the same tone differently. I suppose this merely proves my point that chant tones aren't as cut and dry as we'd often like to think. They are launching points more than anything.

    I wonder if launching directly to the next chord after a cadence, rather than reiterating it and shifting on the next strong syllable (as you and Jernberg both did) is a hallmark of this style of chant. I would love to know. Again, I'm no expert, and to someone who lives in that world, my version could sound very wrong, while to my English-first ear the other way seems jarring to me. I honestly don't think either one are "wrong" per se although one is probably more "authentic" than the other, whichever it may be. I suppose I also have some Russian chant in my ear. I looooooove Tchesnokov and, while I don't speak or read Russian, some of his works seem to follow the pattern that I've used.

    For anyone who is an expert, I'd love to pointed (no pun intended) to some resources in this area.
  • Not to beat a dead horse, but I also added an amen to give it more of a sense of finality. Score and recording attached.
  • Here is my attempt on this general theme, in 87.87.D (try TON-Y-BOTEL, a truly fearsome tune).

    1. Hail Thee, Michael, fierce Archangel,
    Mighty warrior, come defend;
    Satan’s armies march to battle;
    Countless deathly foes descend.
    Christ is for us, Christ is with us,
    All our lives to Him belong;
    Hail Thee, Michael, fierce Archangel,
    Lead us in the battle song!

    2. Who may slay the souls of demons?
    Who may see the face of God?
    Thou, Archangel, in Thy radiance
    Knowest paths no mortal trod.
    As Thou goest forth in glory,
    Fleet Thy wings and keen Thy sword---
    Hail Thee, Michael, fierce Archangel,
    Soldier for our Sov’reign Lord!

    3. Through this tide of evil rising,
    Through this world of stones and strife,
    Jesus Christ, the Lord of Heaven,
    Bids us bear the Cross of life.
    Christ is for us, Christ is with us,
    All our lives to Him belong;
    Hail Thee, Michael, fierce Archangel,
    Lead us in the battle song!

    (c) 2020 Anna Bendiksen (1969-)

  • TON-Y-BOTEL/ Ebenezer is a GREAT option for this text. Love it.
    Thanked by 1Anna_Bendiksen
  • There is this setting to fall back on if anyone needs it: https://www.ccwatershed.org/2019/04/06/saint-michael-prayer-gregorian-pdf/
  • bumping LMassery's setting, and mine, both posted here.