Vespers + Benediction booklet help
  • Dear all,

    This forum has been a great help so far in my efforts to start a Vespers + Benediction service at my parish, which will begin on the first Sunday of Advent (!). I've compiled a draft of the service, and I would be very grateful if some of you could look it over!

    The general idea is that we'll hold it once a month, and the booklet will remain the same (pgs. 2-11; psalms, canticles, etc.), but each booklet will contain an insert (pg. 1, for Advent) with the appropriate antiphons. The psalm tones are from Mundelein and Meinrad.

    *NB: I haven't done any pointing for the psalms yet. Making sure everything is in order first.

    Many thanks !!
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • You are going to bold the inflected words, like you mention in the directions, yes?
  • Elcanrab,

    IF I understand correctly, you're in an OF environment.

    I applaud the initiative to sing any portion of the Office publicly. My parish (partly at my instigation) has been following your pattern (once a month) for 7 years ( I think). We sing Vespers, and have Benediction to follow.

    Even in an OF format, I think the mixing of languages is infelicitous. Unless you have Jackson Osborn's help with English presentations of the psalms (or Kathy Pluth's) I think you're better served to use beautiful Latin in place of some of the clunky English.

    When you provide translations, they should be carefully set apart. (I'm so thick-headed that I misunderstood your presentation of the Magnificat.) I think you should also not include summaries or commentaries on the psalter within the body of the booklet you're preparing. They're not evil, and they have their place, but I don't think this is it.

    Why did you make the decision to have the cantors alone sing the Antiphon for the Magnificat -- since it's the one thing which will be sure to change from iteration to iteration? The melody of the Magnificat might change, but the words won't.

    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • Some suggestions for further improvement of the booklet:

    - change the V and R to something like C and A. The letters V and R usually indicate verse and response (for instance in dialogues) and the psalms are of a different character.
    - Opening Prayer = Introductory verse
    - start the second half verses of the psalms on a new line; it makes singing a bit easier and it does right to the poetic form of the psalms:

    The Lord’s revelation to my Master: “Sit on my right: *
    your foes I will put beneath your feet.”

    The Lord will wield from Zion your scepter of power: *
    rule in the midst of all your foes.


    - I would advice to point the psalms as follows:

    The Lord’s revelation to my Master: “Sit on my right: *
    your foes I will put beneath your feet.”

    - the responsory is all mixed up now and omits some parts. The complete text should be:

    C Our hearts are filled with wonder * as we contemplate your works, O Lord.
    A Our hearts are filled with wonder * as we contemplate your works, O Lord.
    C We praise the wisdom which wrought them all,
    A *as we contemplate your works, O Lord.
    C Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
    A Our hearts are filled with wonder * as we contemplate your works, O Lord.

    - Magnificat: I would sing the verses the same way as the psalms: alternating between cantor and all. At the end, the antiphon could be sung by all. I would format the translation differently (set apart from the Latin, like you did with Adoremus in aeternum)
    - get another picture of the Pater noster; now it has an "R" before "sed libera", which should be removed.
    652 x 634 - 140K
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,532
    A practical point: for the first few weeks, it might be worthwhile to make things fairly easy for first-timers, by making the booklet all-inclusive: that is, include the whole service for that day in order, so that people don't have to flip around from one piece to another to find antiphons, hymns, etc. Of course, this means making a new version each week for a while -- that's more printing and layout work for you -- but it would reduce distractions during the service.

    And just a tip to make it more attractive: much of the booklet is in Arial font. That typeface is so widely used for business purposes that it looks odd if you try to use it for prayers.

    It would be fine to keep Arial for big header lines in the document, but most of the regular-sized text would look good in a typeface that is more reminiscent of book-printing. For example, Palatino or Charter, if you happen to have one of those in your PC. A lot of people like Garamond, but the italics in that font are hard to read.

    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,733
    I see how the Mag antiphon rubric would be confusing! I would have guessed it means:
    Proper antiphon (see insert) sung by cantors, followed by all together:

    that is, if the antiphon is always to the same mode, in which case I don't understand it mightn't as well be sung by all.
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • Everyone,

    Thanks immensely !! I am going to incorporate some of the suggested changes and post the updated file soon.

    Chris Garton-Zavesky, I see your point about the mix of languages... the choice was made because our pastor is very reluctant to use Latin at all, for anything. We never use it during Mass. I was able to get him to agree to use it for some of the more well-known chants; i.e. Pater Noster + Magnificat. If you can point me in the direction of an English Adoremus, he'd probably prefer that, but I can't find any as beautiful as the original.

    The decision to have only the cantors sing the Mag antiphon was an attempt to simplify, but I see from your observations that it didn't pan out : ) we'll have everyone sing it.

    In a similar vein, I thought that everyone could sing all the verses of the Mag because it is really a song; however, it's more confusing and is not common practice, so I defer to your expertise.

    Chonak, I'll see what the pastor says about an integrated booklet for the first time around. I think you're right, but we'll see what the parish staff has to say about printing. I am all too happy to change the font! Funnily enough, I was using Garamond before, but changed it because it was too hard to read.

    Smvanroode, your corrections about the psalm/responsory rubric, and your suggestions about pointing are particularly helpful.

    Again, many, many thanks !
  • Elcanrab,

    I'll see what I can find (in the very near term) for the Adoremus in aeternam.

    On the other hand, you could appeal to the multicultural idea and invite whatever linguistic minority exists in your parish, thus making Latin neither mine nor yours, but ours.

    It is our practice to sing the Magnificat alternatim, by side (Gospel side; Epistle side) and this works.
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • I believe you should also include a copyright notice:

    Chant settings by Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B. Copyright 2017 Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, IN 47577-1010. All rights reserved. Used with permission
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • Updated booklet !
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,532
    It's looking better!

    Incidentally, you don't have to include the text of the Scripture reading in this booklet, as only the reader needs it; and the same is true of the closing prayer, which the priest will present. I'd just put in the headers : "Reading" and "Prayer".

    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,532
    The Responsory melody looks hard to read, since the words and notes aren't aligned, so it would be good to present the first line of that written out fully.

    I made up a little score using Gregorio software:

    It's not an easy tune.
    1950 x 300 - 30K
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • Amazing! Good point about the Reading. Many thanks for the score !
  • Perhaps the tune of the responsory can be made easier like this:
  • PLTT
    Posts: 74
    I was successful in introducing an Advent Vespers last year under a pastor who is rather low-church (to put it mildly). I am probably going to get stoned for some of these suggestions but this is what worked for me (and the parish decided to make it a fixture).
    Note that they are based on the fact that I had very meager resources - namely myself (presiding) and a single cantor. If you have a larger choir, it is different.

    I think the determining principle here is to start off with as many elements that people will feel comfortable with, and then slowly change them. You do want to have an eye on the tradition - but if people can't pick-up the music, and feel it's just between you and the cantor ALL the time, it'll be a harder sell.

    (1) Don't push the Latin UNLESS you have a very strong choir. New tune plus singing in Latin (if they never do it) might be a bit much all at one time for the souls that show up. I would first try to get people accustomed to chant tunes (yes, even clunky English) and then go from there once the service has gained a bit of traction.

    (2) If you are going to have Latin, I would suggest the things that are likely to have the most resonance - O salutaris and Tantum Ergo. Or, why not the Marian antiphon at the end?

    (3) I would try to keep the same tune and provide both English and Latin words for the O salutaris and Tantum Ergo. "Praise God from whom all blessings flow" doesn't work quite well. If you don't want to do a vernacular Tantum Ergo, perhaps there is another Eucharistic hymn?

    (4) Throw in a couple of seasonal hymns that people might know as processionals and/or recessionals (I presume your recessional selections in v2 already reflect this).

    (5) I would go with a chant tune for the main Office hymn - "O Radiant Light" fits the bill. Might there be another more seasonal hymn though - like Creator of the Stars of Night? Or were you trying to keep the Office hymn relatively fixed since Vespers is monthly?

    (6) For the first couple of weeks, I sang almost all the psalms (the Alleluia canticle is different) to one tone. I know it is boring but people are then able to pick it up quickly. Then I introduced a second tone, then a third.
    OR an alternative,, if you want to use multiple tones in one go: use the permission of the IGLH to have the same Sunday psalms every week. [In that case, BTW, I would make the effort to match Ps 114 with the traditional Peregrinus tone]

    (7) If it isn't customary in your parish to repeat the invocations of the Divine Praises, I would just have them said once by all.

    (8) I don't know if this is possible for you - in my aid, I put all the people's parts in bold text, so that it was VERY clear what they had to sing/say, given most of them had no clue about either Benediction or Vespers. I noticed that in the pointing you only used bold in the Magnificat.

    (9) I think you will have to move the intercessions also to the changeable insert since they vary in-between seasons. How would your parish feel about a *seasonal* booklet? there are fewer changeable elements once you hit Ordinary Time.

    (10) The Collect for the Blessed Sacrament uses the "short conclusion" in Benediction (i.e. "who live and reign for ever and ever").

    Summary of my suggestions:

    [Processional: (seasonal English hymn)]
    Exposition: O salutaris [words in Latin and English, same tune]
    O God, come to my assistance, etc.
    English hymn with chant tone, or based on a Latin text
    Psalms + Canticle [same tune OR same psalms]
    Responsory [to an easier tune]
    Magnificat and antiphon (in English)
    Our Father (in English, to either the common US missal tone, or the traditional Latin tone)
    Benediction: Tantum Ergo [English and Latin, same tune]
    Benediction Collect [with short conclusion]
    Marian antiphon: e.g. Alma Redemptoris Mater, or (although not traditional for the season, but since it is going to be monthly) Salve Regina
    Recessional: (seasonal English hymn)

    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • MarkB
    Posts: 167
    On the heels of PLTT's post, I will post what I'm trying at my parish this Advent. We are going to try two Advent Holy Hours with Confessions, Vespers and Benediction. Our parish does weekly Holy Hours now but they aren't well attended and don't feature music nor singing. The new pastor wants to add music and promote the Advent ones in an attempt to generate more interest and attendance among parishioners. It's an experiment, and the pastor asked for my help.

    So, since the parish doesn't have a history of singing Vespers communally, I've decided to start very modestly. The psalms and canticles will be chanted recto tono, with left and right sides of the church alternating stanzas. Cantors will sing antiphons themselves and intone the first line of each psalm/canticle to give the congregation the recto tono pitch, then the people will chant the psalm. It's similar to the way I've experienced the Hours prayed at St. Michael's Abbey in California: recto tono, left/right choirs, cantors handling the antiphons. It works for that community rather well.

    What I wanted to get away from was the parish's practice during Lent under a previous pastor in which cantors monopolized the Vespers psalms/canticles by singing them responsorial style, as at Mass. I thought that was way too much solo singing by the cantor for Vespers besides not being the right way for the community to pray those psalms/canticles.

    Recto tono and left/right "choirs" is ambitious enough for my parish for now. No way is my parish ready to have the assembly chant a pointed psalm using psalm tones. Way too unfamiliar and difficult for them, we won't have a choir to lead the singing, only two cantors, and the people have no history nor experience of chanting psalms. We will chant the Lord's Prayer also. Creator of the Stars of Night will be the Vespers hymn.

    The only Latin we will sing is Tantum Ergo at Benediction. Oh, we will chant the Rorate Caeli hymn near the beginning of the Holy Hour, during Confessions before silent Adoration and before Vespers begins, but that will primarily be sung by another cantor and myself, with the assembly joining in on the short refrain, and it's not a part of Vespers proper.

    Seasonal, standard Advent hymns for other music at the start and close of the Hour.

    If the plan goes well, we can build on that modest approach in the future.
    Thanked by 1elcanrab
  • was successful in introducing an Advent Vespers last year

    Did you introduce Advent Vespers, or did you introduce Advent Vespers, lite? Or did you invent something else, and call it Advent Vespers? I'm not sure of the correct answer to this question.

  • PLTT
    Posts: 74
    Vespers (OF) in Advent, within a Holy Hour.
  • Hi all,

    Just an update : it went beautifully! Many people came, and the assembly was able to follow ! Our parish, like many, has a "problem" of getting the congregation to sing, and yet their participation in this was so earnest, even (maybe especially!) in the Latin ! The Universal Church is real.

    Now looking forward to tweaking the booklet further for next month (note: add directions for sitting, kneeling, and standing! There was a lot of confused shuffling, haha).

    Thank you !! Your help here has been such a blessing, and I look forward to continual growth in our ministries, and in the Church.