Capitalization of "Kyrie" and "Agnus" in scores
  • I have noticed a trend with more modern publishers and composers, which I have not encountered in the past to my knowledge, to only capitalize "Kyrie" and the "Agnus" of Agnus Dei the first time it is presented, with subsequent entries being lowercase (eg. "Agnus Dei, agnus dei, agnus dei, qui tollis..." or "Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison")

    Is this kosher or, perhaps, more correct than the past system? It does not seem so to me.
  • Kyrie eleison makes sense.

    Agnus dei, given the provenance of the practice, may be legitimately surmised to be intentionally downgrading God.
  • I belive that what one would capitalise in English one would capitalise in Latin -
    at least that Latin which is ecclesiastical usage.
    However, conventions with regard to literary Latin may be different than English norms.

    Lord, have mercy upon us.
    Kyrie eleison
    O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world.
    Agnus Dei, qui tollis...
    Etc.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,412
    It might help to start with concrete cases (and, if I remember the Seinfeld episode correctly, "kosher" has to do with how the pig is slaughtered).

    Chigi, c. 1500 (L'homme armé): variously "Domine Deus, agnus Dei" "Sanctus, Sanctus, sanctus dominus Deus sabaoth" "Agnus dei qui" "Agnus Dei qui..."

    Petrucci 1502: "domine deus agnus dei" "Agnus dei qui..."

    Medici Graduale 1614: "Domine Deus, agnus Dei"

    Vincenti 1650 "Domine Deus, Agnus Dei"

    WAM holograph 1782 or '83: "Domine deus, Agnus dei"

    Schott, 1827: "Kyrie, Kyrie...Christe, Christe, Christe" but "domine Deus, agnus Dei"

    Hamelle c. 1900 (Fauré Requiem): "Kyrie, Kyrie, Kyrie eleison"
    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 586
    That "Deus" or "Dei" isn't capitalized is odd, indeed.

    I'm assuming that the OP is talking about re-iterations... or at least what the publisher apparently assumes as such.

    When words are reiterated, unnecessarily to text, they are subsequently lower-case, unless a Proper noun/pronoun.
    Perhaps the publisher is simply ignorant of the fact that each "Agnus Dei" is the beginning of a new sentence. Or, if a single voice says "Agnus Dei, Agnus Dei qui..." and it wasn't a proper noun, but simply the beginning of a sentence; "Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo..." then it would make more sense.

    Either the publisher or the composer doesn't understand the liturgical text in use.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,412
    Well, no, the sentence punctuation of the Solsmes editions isn't going to tell us anything about repeated proper nouns, nor is the "Kyrie, ij ij" of most 16c prints. Anyone can understand liturgical texts very well and still have different notions of capitalization conventions.

    One could also seek trends in editions of a single work, BWV 232 for example:

    holograph: Domine Deus Agnus Dei
    BGA 1856: Domine Deus, agnus Dei
    Peters, n.d.: Domine Deus, agnus Dei
    Novello 1908: Domine Deus, Agnus Dei
    NBA 1954: Domine Deus, Agnus Dei

    I hesitate though to conclude there's some anti- "true God and true livestock" Kulturkampf agenda evident in these data.

    Thanked by 1MarkS
  • Cooze makes good points -
    and
    Agnus Dei and Kyrie are always proper nouns, no matter how repeated.

    It seems that there is confusion, which has led to not necessarily authoritative usages from all the past publishers quoted here. Theirs are very unreliable paradigms.

    Lamb of God or Agnus Dei is a proper noun in Christian ritual context and any language.
    Ditto Lord or Kyrie.

    Examples of them not capitalised are incorrect - no matter who or when the publisher.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 831
    I agree -- Agnus Dei and Kyrie (and Christe) are always proper nouns, and should be capitalized each time, in my opinion.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,412
    "Agnus Dei, agnus dei" is a curious case indeed (if it exists), but Schönbergian has left us in the dark as to whether this is a composer cultivating an eccentric pose or an editor negotiating with the style of another time and place ("sicientes" is 'incorrect' too, but I rather enjoy having the clue to Venetian pronunciation passed along). Or, pace Chris, whether it's just a one time slip instead of an ominous 'trend' of theologically suspect 'modern publishers'.

    Sorry to be a doubting Thomas!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,045
    This reminds me of a literary essay C.S. Lewis once wrote where he mentioned that the capitalization of the male pronoun for God is a fairly recent invention (usually used to help distinguish between different personages mentioned) - hence, not something to get terribly worked up about.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,701
    Well then, praise god and his son our lord Jesus Christ?

    (Sorry... my auto correct put in the capital JC)

    All the 'gods' of the nations are idols.
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 520
    The original Greek New Testament has no uppercase letters. Only lowercase. And no punctuation.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 520
    As a side note - lowercase letters were traditionally used for writing, uppercase were used to engrave into stone
    Thanked by 1KARU27
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,094
    I do know what the OP is talking about. There is a trend in modern publications (ca. 2000 et seq.) of not capitalizing repetitions of certain words.

    For example, an older publication, say a 1993 printing of, say, a Mozart Missa Brevis, would print:

    "Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, eleison. ... Christe eleison. Christe, Christe, Christe eleison, eleison. ... Kyrie, Kyrie, Kyrie eleison, eleison. Kyrie eleison."

    Whereas a publication from 2010 of the same Missa Brevis, prints:

    "Kyrie, kyrie eleison, eleison. ... Christe, christe, christe eleison, eleison. ... Kyrie, kyrie, kyrie eleison, eleison. Kyrie eleison."

    In the hypothetical '93 edition, the words KYRIE and CHRISTE are capitalized whenever they appear; in the hypothetical 2010 edition those same words are only capitalized at the beginning of sentences, repetitions are not capitalized.

    I do think that this is a modern trend among "Scholarly" publishers. You are unlikely to see this from GIA, CanticaNova, Concordia, or other "church" publishers, but it seems to be more common from publishers like Novello, Bärenreiter, Breitkopf & Härtel, et al., and within the last 15 years or so. I wonder if it's the influence of the conventions of 'classical' Latin on ecclesiastical Latin, an influence that looks strange to our eyes, used, as they are, to conventions from the 19th century?
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,412
    Was it arguments being settled by (ahem!) hypothetical editions in 19c Russia?

    Sheetmusicplus gives free previews of what's currently in print.
    Bärenreiter K 317, 1989: "Kyrie, Kyrie"
    Bärenreiter K 257, 2001: "Kyrie Kyrie eleison".

    Should we worry about the war on commas instead, or is it all one vast conspiracy?
    Thanked by 2MarkS Carol
  • In English and ecclesiastical Latin usage and form proper nouns are always capitalised. That's really all there is to it. Fallible music publishers are no guide. Just because it's repetitive proper nouns in a musical context is no guide. In English and church Latin usage we capitalise proper nouns - always.

    Other languages have different usages.
    Thanked by 2Carol CCooze
  • ...the war on commas instead...

    Acchh! There are so many wars!

    I, for one, have gotten the occasional opposition over my use of the 'Oxford comma', which is the one in a series preceding 'and'. For instance, without the Oxford comma one might say 'cabbages, kiwi, canteloupe, parsnips and turnips'; With the Oxford comma one would say 'cabbages, kiwi, canteloupe, parsnips, and turnips'. On this western shore of the pond the Oxford comma is generally frowned upon. That is neither a concern nor a deterrence to me.

    Also, of late (meaning recent years) I have noticed more and more sentences, even in scholarly writing, which do not employ commas in sentences which need them badly for to make literate sense - or, even, just plain sense. I suppose this falls under the aegis of chic usage, but, to me, it is simply the apotheosis of ignorance and bad taste.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CCooze
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 3,650
    Would anyone believe me if I wrote that the people who have most inspired me are my parents, Albert Einstein and Mother Teresa?
  • I would.
    Oxford comma or not!

    Einstein had a high concept of the divine nature of music, and of divinity in it.
    What is it about him that you find inspiring?
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,094
    Perhaps it isn't good to base arguments on hypotheticals, but I have seen what the OP is referring to, and principally with newer editions. I don't think that it is some kind of grand atheist/anti-Catholic conspiracy, as some here, I'm sure, do. It's most likely just a change in usage and convention in engraving; it does indeed seem to be chic to use fewer punctuation marks, and to capitalize less. Whether or not it is appropriate to impose today's engraving trends across the board in church music is another matter.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • I used to edit an academic journal and had to fight for every capital letter and comma. Forget about semi-colons -- they might as well be hen's teeth. The copy-editors invariably have more energy to enforce the current trends than the rest of us.

    Generally, I have given up these battles, but were it necessary, I would still fight for our Lord, whether He be Kyrie, Domine, or Agnus. Conventions are conventions, but symbols do also matter.
  • Very seldom, one encounters examples of English in which not only proper nouns but all nouns are capitalised. This, while institutional in German, is very rarely encountered in English - for instance when an air of great formality is desired.

    Too, seldom encountered any more is the custom of capitalising not only the proper nouns of deity, but any pronouns referring to the same.
  • Jackson,

    Don't you mean "Too seldom encountered", rather than "Too, seldom encountered"?

  • Also, seldom encountered any more is...
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,412
    Capitalized pronouns are newfangledness apparently, though it still startles me a little to look at Watts' Psalms of David and read "Let every Heart prepare him Room".
  • Too, seldom encountered any more is the custom of capitalising not only the proper nouns of deity, but any pronouns referring to the same.


    Why would you want to do something that wasn't done in the KJV?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,200
    Capitalized pronouns now tend to look more like text message mistyping.
  • Too, seldom....
    Too seldom....

    I meant what I wrote, but I see now at what Chris was getting.
    I have mixed feelings about the matter.
    When I was in youth, capitalised pronouns in reference to God or Jesus were near universal.
    Not only in the Bible, but in hymns and much else.
    Probably (ha-ha), in speech as well.
    Oddly, although I am an extremely conservative preserver, I don't miss the practice.
    I recall taking notice that, as the years passed by, the practice was gradually disappearing.
  • Let's eat Grandpa!
    Grammar truly saves lives.

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