Responsorial Psalms set to Anglican Chant
  • NeilMac
    Posts: 7
    I have started to set the whole 3yr cycle of Responsorial Psalms to Anglican Chant.

    I have attached a small sample of these. I should be grateful for comments and to know whether anybody would be interested in the whole cycle
  • Certainly seems an improvement on the doggerel that often gets passed off as RPs in most parishes. Is this intended for choral performance of the RP?
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck NeilMac
  • NeilMac
    Posts: 7
    The pieces are set so that the Responses may be sung in unison, if necessary, with the verses preferably in harmony. The verses can work with just soprano and bass.

    Yes. I set them because I was fed up with the quality of the published material.
    Thanked by 2cesarfranck tomjaw
  • A worthy project.
    Anglican chant is by nature sung in four parts, so your verses should definitely be sung by the choir in SATB parts.
    For contrast I would suggest that your responsories should be very simple melodies that you yourself can compose, and that compliment the chant of the verses. Anglican chant is really not a unison genre.
    This is a commendable and much needed effort on your part.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,499
    I agree, the responses are for the congregation, and must be simple, and predictable.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw CHGiffen NeilMac
  • Three farthings here:

    !) The Antiphon (or response or whatever) should be simple and predictable, but should avoid being trite.
    2) The verses can and should be sung with greater artistry, and should require a certain musical skill, but should avoid being "show" pieces. They should end in such manner that the congregation can easily predict when it is time for a response.
    3) To see the impact Anglican chant can have on the positively mundane, see "The Highway Code", or, more recently, the Shelter-in-Place orders, as set to Anglican chant.
    Thanked by 1NeilMac
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,300
    I do like Responds that are singable in harmony, but they don't need to use a reciting formula. Your 6th example (with a typo?) might as well appear thus, if you want to base it on the chant:
    Thanked by 1NeilMac
  • Interesting project. I've been thinking about putting anglican chant in front of my choir for some time. I've used a few anglican tones with them once or twice. By the way as a PSA for all: there is a wonderful collection of anglican psalm tones on IMSLP called cathedral chants. I printed and bound this and keep it for reference in my office.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,300
    There are several previous threads on this topic as well. I've already posted one of my dozen a cappella RP's for Advent and Thanksgiving Day.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,199
    May I ask a “dumb” question, please?

    It doesn’t seem to me that the rules for “pointing” text for Anglican chant are consistent from engraver to engraver. I would personally love to include more Anglican chant in my choral program, but I would certainly benefit from more advice regarding how to apply the pointing to the chant tone. I can’t think of any off-hand, but there have been some examples that I found very intuitive and easy to use, but others have perplexed me a bit, unfortunately.

    Your work, @NeilMac, has perplexed me a bit, which is probably more a reflection on me than it is you. Could someone(s) more experienced and expert in this arena enlighten me?
  • dboothe
    Posts: 31
    Not a dumb question at all. There are many variations in pointing systems.

    My choir began by using the St. Martin's Psalter published by SJMP, which uses an explicit pointing system. (I have heard that that system is used by other Psalters, as well, but I haven't seen one.) When we began doing Rule of 3s and 5s Anglican chant, I simply extended the St. Martin's system by adding angle brackets. I've attached an example of the system I use.

    For each line, everything before the [square brackets] is on the reciting note. Syllable(s) within the square brackets are sung on the first note of the cadence.

    After the square brackets, one syllable per note with 3 exceptions:
    Syllables within are sung on one note.
    Underlined syllables get two notes.
    All left over syllables at the end of a line all go on the last note of the cadence.

    An ellipsis ... indicates a breath within a line. I do not allow breathing within a single line unless I've indicated it in this way.

    One thing I've learned is to make the layout of the text on the page as clear, consistent and easy to follow as possible. Little things can make a big difference. I could go into more detail on that, if you want.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • Irishtenor -

    There are indeed many pointing systems. Some are rather basic and simple, such as those found in the back of The Hymnal 1940, and some, such as in The Hymnal 1982 and The Anglican Psalter (ed., John Scott), are more complex but yield a more artful and musical treatment of the text. Put in simple terms, older methods typically put the cadence as near the end of a line as possible, whilst others tend to put the cadence further back in the line, resulting in a more pleasing literary and rhythmic performance. The basic rule of most all methods is to put an accented syllable on the first (accented) note of a 'measure' and, when necessary (when two syllables fall on an unaccented note) a secondary accent on a secondary note. The older chant books are without number and one should have several in his or her library - but a must have would be John Scott's The Anglican Psalter.

    As an example incorporating elements of the more modern method, here is Psalm XCIII, Dominus regnavit. The bar (|) represents a bar line in the chant; the period (.) represents a change of note within a bar, and syllables in (bold) type get two notes. This pointing will work as well for a single or a double chant. (In the event that one has an odd number of verses a verse is chosen at some point to be sung to the repeated second half of the chant (if it is a double chant). Also to be borne in mind is that sometimes the particular harmonic structure or shape of a given chant will suggest one pointing over another.

    > The Lord is King, and hath put on | glorious . ap- | parel, *
    the Lord hath put on his apparel and | girded . him- | self . with | strength:
    > He hath made the round | world . so | sure, *
    - | that . it | cannot . be | moved.

    > Ever since the world began hath thy | seat been . pre-| pared; *
    thou | art . from | ev-. er | lasting.
    > The floods are risen, O Lord, the floods hath lift | up . their | voice, *
    the | floods . lift | up . their | waves.

    > The waves of the sea are mighty, and | rage | horribly; *
    but yet the Lord, who | dwelleth . on | high, . is | mightier.
    > Thy testimonies, O | Lord, are . very | sure; *
    holiness be- | cometh . thine | house . for | ever.

    > Glory be to the | Father, and . to the | Son *
    - | and . to the | Ho-. ly | Ghost:
    > As it was in the beginning, is | now, and . ever | shall be, *
    world with out | end . A- | - . - | men.

    >Glory be to the Father, | and . to the | Son, *
    and | to . the | Ho-. ly | Ghost:
    >As it was in the be- | ginning, is . now, and ever | shall be, *
    world | with-. out | end. . A-| men.


    Verse 5, above, might as well be rendered -
    The waves of the sea are | mighty and . rage | horribly' *

    Here is John Scott's interesting solution to the second verse of the above Psalm -
    > He hath | made the . round | world || so | sure . that it | cannot . be | moved.

    Notice how that in this more modern pointing the attention is drawn more artfully to the sentence structure. Also avoided like the plague is the tendency toward 'Anglican thump', by which one rushes through the reciting tone and then pounds out the last few syllables. (I have also heard examples of 'Gregorian thump' in the singing of Latin psalmody to the Gregorian tones.)

    The above is one of several possible solutions.
    And some might join me in quibbling with my own example.

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen irishtenor
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 324
    I agree that a non-Anglican-chant setting of the refrain would be preferable, especially as many refrains are minute bits of text that don’t lend themselves to the phrase-1, phrase-2 structure of a psalm tone.

    It would be nice if the text could be printed with a bit more vertical space between lines, maybe what Word would call 1.5 spacing within groups of verses, to facilitate reading and also the inevitable pencilling.

    Beautiful work!
    Thanked by 2NeilMac irishtenor
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,300
    MJO's system is what I've experienced as standard treatment, except that the dot is only called for when there could be ambiguity: " | to the | Holy | Ghost:" is a little less fussy.
  • Not a Responsorial Psalm but Vidi aquam may be heard to Anglican chant at Walsingham's live-streamed mass on this Third Sunday of Easter - at our website: Also the Palmer-Burgess introit, and the gradual psalm sung to Anglican chant, sung in directum.
    Thanked by 1NeilMac
  • NeilMac
    Posts: 7
    To M. Jackson Osborn

    Thank you for the link. I was brought up with Burgess propers and so have a soft spot for them. It was great to listen to the Vidi Aquam and the gradual psalm.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • ...brought up with B...
    How interesting. Were you Anglican or Episcopalian then? Do you belong to the Ordinariate? Anyway - thanks for loving our music. I just read today on our Forum about the church in Dallas that is seeking an associate choirmaster and organist where their choir sings 'Anglican cathedral style music' - very impressive!
  • NeilMac
    Posts: 7
    To M. Jackson Osborn

    Yes, I was brought up as a High Church Anglican in England (S John's Tue Brook, Liverpool).

    As to the Ordinariate - I am very impressed with the contribution it is making - though not a member - and am a keen follower of Fr Hunwicke's blog