Libera me domine chant
  • jjsmith
    Posts: 4
    Does anyone know if there was a distinct chant for the respond Libera me when it was used for the fifth and final absolution during the burial service? This is in reference to the settings of Libera me by William Byrd (mainly) and also the English composers Robert Parsons and Robert White. As all three were connected to the Chapel Royal, I wondered if they might have been setting these texts as memorials for kings (with or without Elizabeth's knowledge). Thanks so much.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,146
    This is the 5th and final Responsory according to my Officium pro Defunctis 1909 https://gregobase.selapa.net/chant.php?id=376
    Of course they would have been writing music for the Sarum use. I have the books so could look it up.
  • jjsmith
    Posts: 4
    Thanks tomjaw! This is most helpful. After I wrote this query, I found the corresponding Sarum chant in the Sarum Processional (in an edition I accessed in Early English Books Online). I haven't translated the rubric yet. Have you a translation? In working through it, it seems to conform with the Roman use, as described by Fortescue. Parsons, Byrd, and White, who set (beautiful!) polyphonic Libera me pieces were English composers writing music during a Protestant reign. They treated the Sarum chant as a cantus firmus but altered notes and altered resposorial procedures to the extent that the purpose of the music has left historians confused and perplexed. My hypothesis is that they were "asked" to write music for commemorative ceremonies for royal figures, for chantries. Thanks again!
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,146
    @jjsmith
    Here is a link to a downloadable re-typeset copy of the Sarum Processional I do not have a translation of the Rubrics, but will look for one.

    As for comparing the text of Polyphonic settings to those found in chant books, we have a problem. We have a selection of Graduale but not necessarily the one used by the composer. Palestrina's Sicut Cervus / Sitivit uses the Latin text found in the Vulgate, while the Graduale uses one of the other Latin texts (Gallican? or Roman). There are many examples of differences between the Graduale and Missale text let alone differences between different editions.
  • jjsmith
    Posts: 4
    I found the chant p. 411-12, thanks so much!
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • jjsmith
    Posts: 4
    In working on the Libera me, I've just begun now to consult the Sarum Manual via a 16th century source and in a modern edition that just produced www.sarum-chant.ca. Perhaps someone is involved with this great editorial work? It introduces a lot of interesting complications for a pre-Reformation service in England. If I understand the rubrics correctly (and I fear they are above my level of Latinity--which is terribly low) it appears that the Libera me domine (with various verses prescribed) would (or could) be sung 1) at the entrance of the cemetery (church) when the body is brought in procession; then 2) during the Vigil (matins office of the dead, 9th response) but only on certain days (e.g. All Souls) and for certain prominent people, and then finally as part of the Final Absolution before the body is carried out of the church, which I believe is the most common use of the Libera Me today.