English Vesperal for Liturgy of the Hours
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    I thought I would share a project I have been working on for some time. This was produced for Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA. It consists of the offices of second vespers for all the Sundays of the academic year along with first and second vespers and compline for memorials, feasts, and solemnities which are significant during the school year.

    I would appreciate criticism.
  • This looks beautiful!

    Can you talk a bit about your text and melody sources—especially hymns? Does this follow the first or second edition of the LotH?

    BTW, the hymn for Christ the King is misprinted in the AR2; it should end on “re” as per LH. (I inquired to Solesmes, and they confirmed.)
    Thanked by 1awilliams
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    I updated the pdf above with the corrected ending for the Hymn of Christ the King (and the Baptism of the Lord). I thought the hymn should end on "re" but didn't dare alter the final pitch from the most recent Solesmes edition. I am glad to know it is a misprint.

    As noted in the introductory matter of the text, most of the hymn translations are by the Sisters of St. Cecelia's Abbey. They were gracious enough to allow the seminary to reproduce their hymn texts for our own offices. Those hymn translations which were not done by them are either in the public domain or were done by me, another seminarian, or a priest I worked with.

    The melodies are based on the gregorian melodies, but use principles proposed by Dom Dominic Braud, O.S.B. of St. Joseph Abbey in Louisiana. The late Fr. Dominic made a nearly full, hand-written adaptation of the Benedictine office to the English texts. Since I lived at the Abbey for four years, I was exposed to his work and found his methods supported the English text while retaining its gregorian "feel". Thus, for several melodies, nuemes have been slightly altered or simplified to better fit the English accentuation.

    This is a principle I have had disagreements with others on. While I certainly acknowledge that, as many have proposed, their is no authentic "melodic" stress that is imposed on a text, it is my experience, singing daily with a community of non-expert musicians, it is easier to sing a text if the melody seems to support its natural accentuation.

    For example, in the Vespers II hymn of Sundays Week I and III, if the text is applied directly to the original melody the music seems to support a stressing of:
    o BLEST cre-A-tor of THE LIGHT.

    However, if you alter the melody as seen in my text, the music seems to support:
    o BLEST cre-A-tor OF the LIGHT.

    The latter, at least to me, seems more reasonable to propose to non-musicians.

    As far the antiphons go, these melodies are my own adaptations of the gregorian originals. Most of the time the originals are as seen in the Antiphonale Romanum or the Antiphonale Monasticum. However, since the Liturgy of the Hours (Second Edition) does not always match the Antiphonale text, and I don't have the authority to alter the English texts, I had to sometimes forge a connection between the official Liturgy of the Hours text and an antiphon from another source.

    Thus, for example, if I found a text which did not match, I would look at the Latin edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, find the Latin antiphon and then search though several antiphonaries and databases to find an antiphon with a similar text, or a text from a near-vicinity in scripture, or a larger antiphon which contained some or all of the needed text within it. Then, the English adaptation used these gregorian antiphons as the basis of their melodies.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,509
    I'll echo Felipe's "beautiful".

    "mdmsllfs" is the version (of Creator alme) found in H82 and is a good sorter of Anglicans from Lutherans, Methodists and GIAians, whose instinct is to sing mdmsslfs instead.

    I did wonder though about the next hymn, (the first comma I'm sure is unintended) which besides being unfamiliar to me has one note too many for my taste:
    "The, maker of the _ world today
    …Now John fulfills his _ childhood call…"

    Thanked by 1awilliams
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    Thanks for your comments. I updated the PDF removing the comma and the extra note.

    Some of these melodies have a history of use in the house, but I am not completely attached to them, especially if I am going to distribute these more widely.
  • Seems like a great project.

    One question based on a quick glance: the neume on "God" on p. 11 seems unusual; I think of diamonds being used generally when they descend from the virga.

    Did you do this in Gregorio/LaTeX? A few of the diamond notes appear odd on my computer screen, although I've noticed that that's sometimes the case with Gregorio, whereas they look fine when printed.

    fr Innocent, op
  • Just scrolled through the whole thing. Wonderful typography and layout.

    One suggestion would be to think about the rules for when titles/labels are printed at the bottom of the page. For instance, the placement of

    CANTICLE 1 Peter 2: 21-24

    at the bottom of p. 30 is a little odd, although I recognize the difficulty of spacing in these cases. Maybe one solution would be to change the parameters for section titles (assuming you're using LaTeX) and then use a consistent mode of referring to psalm texts; in that case, you could put a reference to the first and second psalm separately to space things out more.
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 899
    This is certainly a laudable project! At least it encouraged me to press forward with a similar project in Dutch.

    I particularly like the way the gregorian melodies have been adapted to the English, with the melody supporting the text's natural accentuation. I followed more or less the same principles in my Dutch adaptation of the Graduale Simplex (Klein Graduale).

    As far as I can see, no use of Gregorio is made, but of a gregorian font instead. With regard to layout and typesetting, there are some minor issues, but overall it looks very nice and dignified!

    Did I spot correctly that you use different fonts for the main text (Garamond) and italic (Palatino)?
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    The main text is Garamond and the italic is Palatino. I did this because I find the Garamond italics to be far too slanted for easy reading. They don't always flow best together, but the change in font also makes the shift noticeable. The asterisks and crosses are also taken from different fonts.

    The book is formated from the Caecila font, not Gregorio. This allows me freedom to have far more control of the formatting than I would if I plugged it into Gregorio and let it churn out a book.

    The issues of the titles on pages is something I would like to clean up, but my goal was to fit everything on as few pages as possible for printing costs.

    Also, in regard to the diamond notes on page 11, I thought this was a strange usage but I found the same used on the same antiphon from two separate sources. At least in my little research, it seems to be unique.
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    I have also had a chance to look at some of the ICEL drafts of the new translation of the LotH, so have make adequate preparations to make the shift when it occurs. It will not require as major a rewriting project as it may seem to reproduce this same text with he revised translation.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    I find the Garamond italics to be far too slanted for easy reading.

  • CGM
    Posts: 559
    Is the apostrophe is upside-down on the word "med-'cine" on the fourth line of the first page? And "ev-'ning" on the next line?
  • CGM
    Posts: 559
    "mdmsllfs" is the version (of Creator alme) found in H82 and is a good sorter of Anglicans from Lutherans, Methodists and GIAians, whose instinct is to sing mdmsslfs instead.

    But "mdmsslfs" is how this melody is given in the Liber Usualis, so there is some precedent for Catholics to sing it that way.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    I am glad I posted this before I printed it. This is the problem of not having a real editor.

    PDF is updated
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,903

    Try this on for size:

    Or this, and note the different termination:

    And this is still different ("mdmsslfs") with yet a different terminaton:
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,423
    Thanked by 2Salieri Kathy
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 280
    :) There was a great idea in the beginnings of the Church to forbid singing altogether. It would effectively prevent the scandal of different tunes for the same text.

    Unfortunately, the "musicians" defeated the "reciters" back then ...
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,318
    @ CHGiffen
    Are those images from the Cantus Database?

    As for melodies for this Hymn... N.B. the following website is far from a complete database!

    More variations here, https://societyofstbede.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/the-first-sunday-of-advent/

    For those scandalised by the differences think how long this hymn has been sung, and how far across the globe!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 280
    "Conditor alme siderum" has mode annotation "D". I suppose it's a typo.

    It may happen that I will sing through all the antiphons in the days following. @awilliams do you want me to send you my remarks resulting from such a review?
    Thanked by 1awilliams
  • awilliamsawilliams
    Posts: 100
    I would love to hear your comments, thank you.
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 253
    @awilliams this is fantastic! Great work and thank you for sharing.
  • Have you worked on the full ABC year Sunday antiphons? We came across the ND Vesperal for the school year and were wondering if there was any way to find the antiphons for the full 3 year cycle? We really appreciate your work!
  • @srteresaimmaculate I have not found these as of yet. I have been adapting the melodies found in ARII to English
    Thanked by 1srteresaimmaculate
  • I've been Working on an English Liber Usualis for my parish, and many of your adaptations and methodology are similar to the ones I've done. Pretty cool!
  • @srteresaimmaculate

    Sadly, I have not done much work to this project lately since the Liturgy of the Hours is currently being re-translated. I don't have access to any of the proposed translations, or else I would already start putting together a new edition so as to make it ready as soon after the publication of the new breviary as possible.

    My intent for that edition will be a complete cycle of Sundays, Solemnities, and Feasts (Vespers I and II). The memorials in the present edition will be omitted, since they were only included at the request of the seminary itself.

    The NDVesperal has had great success, but it has also been a good experiment in English chant. There are many problems with the current edition (which doesn't upset me that much since it was cobbled together in a period less than two months in-between academic sessions). Since publishing this edition, I have completely re-thought my psalm tone system, basing the new system on the method of adapting chant I have experienced from some English choirs (English as in UK). The new tones better reflect the accentuation of the English language. I am very excited to include these in the final edition of this Vesperal, whenever God wills that day to be.

    Until then, if you desire to use this edition for the full ABC cycle, my recommendation is to partner it with the Latin antiphons. There is a small community of priests and sisters that uses my Vesperal in that manner.

    Because I am simply incapable at this point of continuing work on the new edition until I have access to the ICEL Liturgy of the Hours translation, I have been spending some time in partnership with a friend of mine in order to produce a Latin antiphonal according to the revised OCO. We have made significant progress on this front, though it is a mammoth of a task and will still take some time to complete.

    I am also bogged down with work on my master's thesis right now, so that has slowed progress on both fronts.

    There is much to do, but I am confident if the Lord wills me to complete this project, he will give me the means and the time.
    Thanked by 1srteresaimmaculate
  • Thank you so much for sharing this information...! We are a french community, and a converted jewish composer, Magdalith, wrote our french liturgy from the latin Gregorian.. now that we are founding priories around the world, we're having to re-think our liturgy so that it best expresses our desires of English chant, based upon the gregorian that, as you've done so well, reflects the accentuation of the English Language.
    Immediately, when we discovered your work, we were very impressed and pleased with your style!
    Do you know of any other Communities or seminaries that have done a similar work of English chant? That, in your opinion, has been faithful to the english language accentuation? As of now we've been using a hymnal of translations directly from the french but the accentuations are a train wreck :) so we are searching new avenues, sure that there are already great things out there for english chant, especially for the sunday antiphons.
    Thanks so much for your work!!!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • awilliams, are you willing to give more details about your new English psalm tone methodology?
    I suspect many of us would be fascinated to hear your ideas and learn of your sources and inspiration. Thanks.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • @srteresaimmaculate

    The most complete resource I can recommend to you is the settings from the Abbey of Gethsemane. They are English chant, though they are new compositions (and not adaptations of the Gregorian originals--which I find regrettable). I know of many convents which use these settings. They really are splendid in what they are. You can download them here.


    I have sadly not had time yet to type them up. They exist on ledger paper next to my desk right now. There are a couple variables I have been playing with.

    1. First, psalm tones should, in my mind, be limited to a two-measure system with the added flex when necessary. I find the multi-measure tones of Meinrad difficult to follow sometimes. You have to know how the tone will divide based on the number of lines in a stanza which, for my purposes, is difficult to give to congregations. Perhaps it works when you chant them every day, several times a day. But, when you are trying to create a resource approachable to parishes, you need something intuitive.

    2. I also have difficulty with many currently available English psalm tones (Meinrad, Weber, Barlett) because, in essence, they are all 'peregrine'. In other words, the reciting pitch moves. Some people would say this is helpful to keep the tone interesting. I have found in my own experience chanting with various religious communities that when you have a constant 'drone' of sorts on the same pitch, with the various mediants and terminations thrown in for good measure, you are more easily drawn into the actual prayer of the text instead of the music. It requires less thinking on the chanter's part, which is really ideal. The text should sink into the heart. Thus, with the exception of the actual "Tones Peregrinus", my tones maintain the same reciting pitch from measure to measure.

    3. I also find that most English psalm tone adaptations ignore the natural acceptation of the English language. Immediately on working with tones I noticed that, regardless of how much I would love to maintain certain slurs in the termination formulae as seen in the Latin tones, this is extremely difficult in English without having to go through and write out each verse. My new tones do not contain any of these movements--which ultimately saddens me, but allows for a more proper chanting of the English text. Likewise, I do not force the text to always move on the last few syllables. My new tones move on the last two accents--as opposed to syllables.
    Example OLD:
    as it was in the begínning, is nów...
    Example NEW:
    as it was in the begínning, is nów...

    This is the practice I have seen in English choirs in my study. A good youtube recording of Westminster Cathedral provides an example.

    4. Finally, my new tones contain one thing which is unnecessary to English tones as a whole, but helpful to the particular publication I am working on. Each psalm tone contains the same number of movements from one to another. This is helpful for congregations because, on feast days, when the antiphon may change the mode of the psalm, the same psalm text (with pointing) may be used as any day without need to reprint with a new pointing according to a new tone.
  • Interesting!
    I agree wholeheartedly with 1 & 3.
    4 is an excellent idea.
    2? Well, I'll keep an open mind and view with interest your final suggestions.
    Best of luck pulling it all together. I'm certain it will be an excellent addition to the repertoire.
  • awilliams -

    I admire your cleanly-thought-out priniciples and conscientious procedures, and agree basically with your tenets. I share, also, your criticism of the various Mundelein-type psalm tones, which become tedious after not too long, can be difficult to follow (as you mention), lack a clear and sensitive linguistic pulse, and (worst sin of all!) have zero historic resonance - and, they are boring.

    However, I do have reservations about your comment no. 3. I'm sure that you are aware that Anglicans have been chanting Miles Coverdale English psalmody to the un-tinkered-with Gregorian tones for a very long time, and have no difficulty doing so. I even know of student bodies of hundreds of youth who sing these from plainsong psalters daily at chapel. A familiarity with the St Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter (Lancelot Andrewes Press) will illustrate the beauty with which this can be achieved.

    While I genuinely like and do heartily commend your own psalm tones as superior to any and all other modern ones, as being more musical, and having a definite and purposeful historic resonance, I cannot share your judgment that English and the un-tampered-with Gregorian tones are incompatible. Of course, having a translation with luscious imagery and poetic grace, such as the Miles Coverdale version, makes all the difference in the world. The relative blunt and clunky abruptness of the Grail is fundamentally unmusical.

    Still, I whole-heartedly endorse your method and wish you great success in bringing it to fruition.

    Thanked by 1rich_enough
  • Why not use the Gregorian psalm tones with English? I’ve found it really works well and softens the language.
  • Hi awilliams,
    I sent you a message in your inbox!
    God bless you
  • GerardH
    Posts: 278
    If I might chime in on this psalmtone conversation... I think in general I have similar opinions to Mr Osborn.

    I myself have made attempts at adaptation of the Gregorian tones for English use . Initially it was for an English Compline I put together for Fridays (UK/Aus translation). I have since attempted to create a complete Compline in English, which is still in the drafting stages. Thanks to the work of Steven van Roode, I had the Latin chants to adapt to English. The antiphon for Friday is in Mode IV* - an ancient form of the mode with tenor on So instead of La. The Mode IV* psalmtone looks like this:


    My choir is well acquainted with singing Anglican chant, so I adopted a similar pointing method, and so rendered the psalm and psalmtone as this:


    3. like one a-| lone a-| mong the dead; *
    like the slain | lying in | their graves;
    like those you re-| member | no more, *
    cut off, as they | are, from | your hand.

    8. As for me, Lord, I | call to | you for help: *
    in the morning my | prayer comes be-| fore you.
    Lord, why do | you re-| ject me? *
    | Why do you | hide your face?

    (this psalm incidentally had no need for a flex)

    My method should be fairly clear - it's pretty much a faithful adaptation of the original. However, it does lead to some of the problems you describe @awilliams. In particular, if the psalm must be sung to a different tone, as at Easter, the pointing must be entirely redone. Below is Tonus VIIIg.


    3. like one alone a-| mong the dead; *
    like the slain | lying | in their graves;
    like those you remember | no more, *
    cut off, as they | are, from | your hand.

    8. As for me, Lord, I call to | you for help: *
    in the morning my prayer | comes be-| fore you.
    Lord, why do you | reject me? *
    Why | do you | hide your face?

    And then when I try to adapt the canticle version of Tonus IIIa (antiquo) for the Nunc Dimittis, I get this mess:


    the light to en-| lighten the | Gentiles
    and give glory to | Israel, | your people.
    Glory be to the | Father, and | to the Son,
    and to the | Holy | Spirit.

    (I think I may have gotten confused on this one and created something that falls between the Monastic and Vatican versions of this tone. I'd welcome enlightenment)

    My choir has managed to cope with it quite well, but I don't think my pointing method is easily transferrable. As I said, I have been attempting to create a complete Compline, so I now have quite a collection of these tones, but I'm still undecided if I should stick with my current method. I appreciate your approach @awilliams, and I think it would be of value if you expanded your collection to include terminations on different notes which help to match antiphons better.

    But if anyone - looking in the Anglican direction - has a better method for using English texts with the authentically Gregorian tones, I'd like to hear it. Perhaps it would include optional breaking up or combination of neumes to fit syllabic stresses better.

    Phew! That was a long post. I'd better stop.
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