Antiphons at Vespers
  • Bri
    Posts: 45
    We are working to have our parish's first Vespers service.

    We will have a cantor leading the singing. The psalm verses will alternate between cantor alone and the the entire congregation.

    My question is about the antiphon.

    Should the cantor sing the antiphon once and then the whole congregation sing the antiphon again at the beginning of the psalm? What about at the end?

    Thankyou!
  • LauraKaz
    Posts: 13
    Typically at the beginning of the psalm the cantor will sing the antiphon once alone, and then the whole congregation will sing it together once at the end of the psalm.
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  • Bri,

    I think you'll find that "Vespers" refers to a particular hour in the Divine Office in use very widely until 1969, and "Evening Prayer" is used (or something like it) in the modern form of the Liturgy of the Hours.

    Guessing, therefore, that your use of language is correct, and you're singing Vespers, there is no logical reason to have a cantor sing the entire antiphon before having the assembled lay faithful sing it. What is supposed to happen, if I understand correctly, is for a cantor to sing the incipit, up to the asterisk, and then have the entire group assembled finish the antiphon. (In monasteries, that's the other monks; in parishes, that's everyone in the building.) Some places (I think, mostly, in France) the incipit, only, is sung and then the psalm verses, the Gloria Patri and the entirety of the antiphon.

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  • davido
    Posts: 621
    When we sing Evening prayer, I set the Antiphon to the same psalm tone as the psalm. The cantor sings it the first time before the psalm, and everyone sings it after the psalm.
    My parish is getting used to this style of vespers and the psalm tones though, so I can probably have everyone sing both iterations of the Antiphon next time.

    What Chris describes above is correct, but I cannot conceive of congregations I have worked with singing Gregorian antiphons on one hearing, even with English text. Maybe they’ll learn it after a while if they attend weekly Sunday vespers and the antiphons are the same each week.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    ahem This is why semidoubling is better for parishes, on 95% of the Sundays where one has Vespers.

    When you get used to things, even if you keep the cantor-people alternation of the psalmody and, I cannot stress this enough, the hymns, the people will be able to sing the antiphons, and it's quite nice.
  • davido
    Posts: 621
    Learning the music is how the congregation will be able to sing the antiphons, I don’t see how semidoubling helps in any way. That is even less times for people to hear or practice singing the antiphons.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    You do that by singing Vespers frequently and by occasionally having sessions outside of Vespers to learn the music. Semidoubling helps achieve this with some ease, because if only the cantor sings the first verse of the psalm, there is absolutely no chance of confusion on what to do with the antiphon and then going into the first verse on ordinary Sundays, because only the cantor or cleric, if you have more clerics than just the celebrant, or the celebrant himself, in the case of the first antiphon and that for the Magnificat and the hymn) is singing at a given moment.
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  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 305
    I know plenty of places where evening prayer from the current Liturgy of the Hours is referred to as Vespers, particularly when it is sung.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,900
    MatthewRoth wrote:
    This is why semidoubling is better for parishes,


    My grasp on the antiphon practices of the old office is rather shaky, and I've never seen the gerund "semidoubling" before, so if some of you knowledgeable folks could explain it, that would be a help.

    [Caution: the following is a strong opinion:] Regardless of what the rubrics were at the time, singing just the incipit of an antiphon was an appalling mutilation of the Divine Office. [end of opinion]

  • I find myself in complete agreement, Chonak, with your strong opinion, but I thought I should alert our OP to the existence of the practice.
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  • GerardH
    Posts: 279
    I think you'll find that "Vespers" refers to a particular hour in the Divine Office in use very widely until 1969, and "Evening Prayer" is used (or something like it) in the modern form of the Liturgy of the Hours.

    This is a useless, simplistic and generally untrue distinction. The modern Latin books still refer to Vespers, and in English the two terms are synonymous
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,900
    I think there used to be a fad in this country of making an artificial distinction between the two. Now that the USCCB's web site says that Vespers and Evening Prayer are two names for the same thing, we don't have to worry about fighting that old error any more.
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  • Gerard,

    If I add "IN COMMON PARLANCE" to the statement, will you be less dismissive of it?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,018
    And to add a bit more fuel to the flames, I will add that in much of the English speaking world we use a different translation of the Liturgia horarum labelled 'The Divine Office'.
  • Bri
    Posts: 45
    Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts!

    We are doing the newer form of Vespers (also called Evening Prayer) using the tones from the Mundelein Psalter.

    What is semi-doubling?

    I'm not familiar with the term.

    Thank you!!
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,055
    Long ago, and for a long time, it was customary (and rubrical) to sing only about half the antiphon at the beginning of the psalm, then chant the psalm, then sing the whole antiphon after the Gloria Patri. This was done on so-called “semidouble” feasts, including ordinary Sundays.

    On “double” feasts like today the whole Antiphon was sung before and after.

    This was brought to a rubrical end in 1960.

    It's tempting to conclude that double feasts are so called because the antiphons are sung twice, but I believe this is false etymology.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    E.g. on Sundays in the Divino Afflatu breviary, you sing, "Dixit Dominus," "Magna opera Domini," "Qui timet Dominum," "Sit nomen Domini," and "Deus autem noster" before the psalm; then the entire antiphon after. The same is true of the Magnificat. There is a rubric in the Liber Usualis which explains how to print the rubrics in case you fall on a semidouble or even simple feasts; sing the antiphon until the asterisk, then again in full after the psalm, else sing them twice, because most feasts were double. (This is one of the big problems that Pius X's reform never solved.)

    I've seen it asserted elsewhere that doubling refers to some kind of celebration of both the festal and ferial office, but I have never seen anyone deliver the goods with this hypothesis, so to speak.
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  • Evidently it is more widespread than I had imagined.
    I still think it's a bad idea UNLESS there is the practice and intent of differentiating (for example) solemn feasts from (say) 3rd class feasts or Feria, maybe. Still, Count me unconvinced that it's a good idea.
  • It's tempting to conclude that double feasts are so called because the antiphons are sung twice, but I believe this is false etymology.

    I've seen it asserted elsewhere that doubling refers to some kind of celebration of both the festal and ferial office

    This indeed appears to be so. After saints' relics were translated from suburban cemeteries into the papal basilicas, they started to sing, on saints' natalicia, both the office of the saint (single nocturn without invitatory) and then the full office of the weekday or Sunday (with invitatory and following Lauds). Perhaps a similar situation was preserved into Roman Office until 1911 (and even later in the Monastic Office) on November 2 when both Office of the Dead and that of the day within Octave of All Saints was sung.
    but I have never seen anyone deliver the goods with this hypothesis, so to speak

    There is a paper by J. Dyer with a pretty good evidence from the sources and references to earlier works. It is a chapter of a book (p. 200-...), it could accessed also on his Academia page. One can take a look and see for oneself.
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  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    But that's not at all how the term is used anywhere else in the liturgy, even where doubling antiphons was really, really rare (like in the Dominican rite), as the Roman rite is actually really generous in this respect, since, unless it's a feria of Advent or Lent, there's no trace of the ferial office at all. Now, this change might because these things are irrelevant outside of Rome except there are a number of features, like the stational churches, which are also irrelevant, but they nevertheless passed into the Frankish liturgy, and Rome itself entirely abandoned this custom, so one would have to explain how the Lateran passed from the ancient Roman usage to something closer to that of the papal court, all while the term "duplex" completely changed its meaning.

    Also, for the hours which existed, the Office of the Dead was a full office, albeit different from the ordinary hours and therefore probably from an earlier period of the Roman rite's history…
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  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 240
    Une fois n'est pas coutume, I agree with Matthew. It is a historical fact that antiphons were not regularily doubled in the Medieval Roman Rite, whether in Rome or in the various Uses of the Roman rite. Of course, that does not mean the decision of having all antiphons doubled at any Hour was a bad decision, let alone that it would be prudent to try and undo what has been done here.
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 254
    I will add my 2 cents: whenever I have sung the office (even publicly) using the pre-55 rubrics as far as calendar/commemorations/ceremony are concerned; we always sang the antiphons twice.
  • That's just strange. As often as I've sung Vespers (or seen it sung) I've never encountered the custom except in recordings.
  • PaxTecum
    Posts: 254
    It also depends, I believe, on the antiphon and psalm text. If the antiphon text is the same as the first psalm verse, one of them is cut short at the beginning. I can't remember which.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    If the Antiphon is that same as the first line of the Psalm, you either sing the Antiphon in full and omit the first line of the psalm. Or sing the incipit and then continue the text according to the psalm verse tone. These options will of course depend on the Rubrics...
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    Right. For example, on Sunday at Vespers following the older rubrics, you only sing "Dixit Dominus" to the antiphon melody, so the jump from "Dixit Dominus" to "Domino meo" is a tad strange at first, but you get used to it, and it's only a third, from Re to Fa. In places that follow 1962, you go to "Donec ponam," and I personally like the custom of the ICRSP to sing the psalm incipit at the beginning of the first verse actually sung to the psalm tone (so you sing Si-La-Do-Re on "Donec").

    Even though they don't do the commemorations, the clerics and schola of Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile in parish do not double the antiphons for most of the year (they have done so in Advent for some strange reason, but, and I say this with great respect, the previous pastor, Canon Guelfucci, was a tad idiosyncratic.)
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 240
    Even though they don't do the commemorations

    They do, just not on Feast days I think.

    On the other hand, the fact they do not double the antiphons is... a bit strange in my opinion. One may not like this rubric, but the fact remains those who use the 1961 office have to follow it's rubrics.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,601
    No one who isn't a canon of a handful of churches has permission to use the ancient hymns either, and yet.

    Edit: no, SESC does not add the commemorations or suffrages. On Laetare Sunday that would have been of a confessor not a bishop and of a doctor. They went straight to the Benedicamus Domino after the collect.
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  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 240
    No one who isn't a canon of a handful of churches has permission to use the ancient hymns either, and yet.

    Indeed, that's completely illicit.

    Edit: no, SESC does not add the commemorations or suffrages. On Laetare Sunday that would have been of a confessor not a bishop and of a doctor. They went straight to the Benedicamus Domino after the collect.

    Hmm, indeed. They might have changed this while I was not there.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,067
    We did LOTH Vespers here for about six months (Birmingham AL) at St. Paul. We usually did it in English, but (roughly) approximated what they do at the NAC in Rome.

    We used the new Antiphonale II, which I actually got very accustomed to and enjoyed, for the antiphons; cantor sang incipit, then all BEFORE the psalm, then everyone in whole after the psalm (Weber tones in alternatim between cantor and congregation). Responsory usually based on the traditional melody, but in English.

    I liked it. We didn't differentiate the performance of the antiphon based on the feast, etc., but then the new books don't, and customs don't really exist here regarding the office.
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