Sunday Vespers
  • EvaS
    Posts: 17
    Recently I encountered some interesting Vespers programs in a nearby parish. The music director opted for praying Evening Prayer I on Sunday afternoon. There are some substitutions as well. For example, one of the psalms is substituted with a popular solo by Mozart; and the Responsory with another popular solo by Mendelssohn. To be sure, these changes make the Vespers more appealing to the average parishioners, but are these changes permitted by the rubrics? Are substitutions a common practice in the past?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,600
    No. Probably not, based on the volume of music written just for Vespers and the amount of effort spent on getting average-but-capable singers to use chant.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,423
    Is the Mozart a Psalm, like Laudate Dominum?
  • Eva,

    I think it depends what you mean by "permitted by the rubrics".

    At Matins, for example, there is a respond which begins "Ubi est Abel, frater tuus?", of which at least one polyphonic setting exists -- and is available at CPDL. Could that polyphonic setting be sung at Matins? I can't see why not, since it's the same text, set in a manner consistent with the form of the original. On the other hand, substituting a popular solo (Laudate Dominum) of Mozart seems less appropriate not because it's Mozart (whose music I fail to adequately appreciate) but because it disrupts the balance of the original, since the original has an antiphon at beginning and end and chanted verses in the middle. Mendelssohn may not be appropriate for several reasons, but a popular solo is not in keeping with the nature (or form, perhaps) of the Responsory. If we sang the Advent hymn from the Office using a setting from (say) Dufay or someone using a similar form, I can't see that this would be, necessarily, problematic.

    Making Vespers more appealing to the parishioners is not the goal. Making our work more pleasing to God is.
  • davido
    Posts: 621
    The instructions for the Liturgy of the Hours basically say, do this, or for pastoral reasons, do whatever the heck you want.
    Nobody is bound to recite vespers as it is in the books except for the clergy, but it does seem misrepresentative to call it Vespers if you are going to substitute other texts for the official ones.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw