Litanies pointed for the road
  • Hugh
    Posts: 197
    On our annual 3-day Christus Rex Pilgrimage from Ballarat to Bendigo (Australia) Cathedral in late October, the 6 Litanies chanted are staple fare for the itinerary. But as everyone knows who has tried this, it's a little frustrating when one verse falls perfectly in with the walking rhythm, and the next doesn't.

    My solution this year is to vary the entry to each invocation so that it makes the last syllable always fall on the beat. It simply means syncopating the beginning. And sometimes the response ( Litany of St Joseph, Lit. of Saints). With the prosaic invocations at the end of the Litany of Saints I think it's best to sing in natural speech the bulk of the invocation, and then bring the last bit into walking pace.

    Anyway I invite anyone here who has met this problem before to check out my attempts at the above on the to evaluate for themselves and copy/refine same if the idea appeals. I've sung them in an attempt (not always successful) to keep exactly on the drumloop/walking beat, which is the first order of importance. But once the basic metre is mastered, the cantor can then move on to the next level, which is sneaking the latin accent back in while maintaining the strict rhythm, sometimes setting up a very pleasant "Latino" feel interplay between walking beat and verbal accent.

    (Scroll down to the end of the page. Mp3s on the right, and a pointed pdf of the primer litanies on the left. Apologies, for the pdf image - it's a bit fuzzy. I'll rescan and repost in the next few days.)

    As hinted above that the drum loop in the background is only to simulate the walking rhythm. Apologies for my scratchy voice - I had to do many takes deep into the wee hours of the morning to get it right. In fact just now, I'm so sick of my ersthwhile beloved Litanies I don't want to see or hear them again till the Pilgrimage rolls around!

    (It goes without saying that Litanies are free rhythm by nature, and are best sung that way when not associated with walking.)

    P.S. If you haven't heard this version of the Precious Blood Litany before it's because it's my own invention, seeing as there weren't any available when I looked last year. I've since seen a few worthy attempts posted on this forum.
    Thanked by 1expeditus1
  • Hugh
    Posts: 197
    Er, the website wrongly linked to above is:


  • JTCooper
    Posts: 2
    Mr. Hugh, these links are broken you have an updated web presence?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,236
    JTCooper -
    1> you might be best sending a private message (PM) just click on the name where it is highlighted in blue and you will be offered the option.
    2> there might be a copy on the Wayback Machine.
    [UPDATE] There is an archive copy only of the home page, not of the litanies listed.