Needed: SATB polyphony for wedding, one voice per part
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,069
    Hi all,

    I've been asked by a friend to do the music for his wedding. It is in Philadelphia in a month; there will be a choir, but only SATB, one on each part. I am told that the other three (I will be the bass) are very skilled. I know that is a dangerous expression, but I trust this gentlemen (he was one of my groomsmen!)

    That said, I need some polyphony that we can put together in a day and a half of common rehearsal time (I will email scores and rehearsal files before that, of course.)

    So, ideas? By the way, just motets: we are doing Mass VIII or IV for the ordinary, in all likelihood. I will be playing organ as needed.

  • About 6 years ago, faced with a possible gig, I asked my friend Fred Lautzenheiser (director of the Schola at Immaculate Conception in Cleveland) about wedding music. I don't think he would object if I posted it here:

    As for the wedding music, I have been scratching around for years to find wedding music that is proper to the nuptial mass in the Liber, and now I have a nice little trove of it. Judging from the difficulty of finding anything that is truly PROPER to the mass, bridal couples must have been doing whatever rubbish they heard at the local tavern for quite a few centuries before we came along (just the way it is now). Actually, I think the truth is that weddings in the Roman rite (like Catholic baptisms at present) were very private and low-key affairs that were probably solemnized in the church at an off-time in the parish schedule, and were probably mostly low masses with no music. Then they probably threw a great big party a couple days later when everybody could attend, and that was (I'm sure) the main event.

    Having said all that, The backbone of the canonical nuptial mass propers is "Beati omnes qui timent Dominum." I think it's Psalm 127 in the Vulgate, but the numbers are usually off by one or two and I don't have my Vulgate here. The opening verse is the psalm for the Introit. The Gradual is another bit of it (Uxor tua), and the Tract (for weddings in Lent, I suppose) is another 3 verses (Ecce sic benedicetur.../Benedicat tibi Dominus ex Sion.../Et videas filios filiorum..). Ecce sic benedicetur is also the communion verse.

    The other propers are from various places: the rest of the Introit is from the Book of Tobit in the Apocrypha. A major part of Tobit concerns Tobias's son's marriage, and so at some point along the line (I think the Middle Ages?) this story must have become quite important to people and seems to have popped into everyone's mind who was thinking about nuptials. The Alleluia verse (Mittat vobis Dominus auxilium de sancto...) is from some other place - I don't know where. The Offertory was borrowed from the 13th Sunday after Pentecost - why, I don't know, but maybe just to add a word of warning that nothing lasts forever and you are going to die soon enough??

    There are numerous settings of the whole psalm, or at least the beginning (and I think in some cases you could sing the rest following the pattern if it was set in "psalm" style, like Anglican chant). Senfl did two of them, both SATB, and you have them at Haydn. Rore did two (SATB and TTTB, oddly enough). The Iberians wrote some - Tornar (SATB or ATTB), Morales (AATTBarB) and Morago (AATB) at least. The others I have are: Gombert (SATTB), J. Fogliano (SATB), Nicolas Champion (AT, 3 baritones, B), and Campra (soprano, flute, bc). I think the Slovenian composer Georg Prenner wrote one too. I found a note of mine that gives a reference to A-R's Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance (did I say that right?) V.103 p.55 (3 voices, don't know which ones) and v.105, p. 128 (SAATB).

    As for partial settings, there is an AAA setting of just Ecce sic benedicetur in one of the Trent Codices (you could do that with recorders, no?) and you showed me the Vincenzo Ruffo Uxor tua sicut vitis (SATTB) (they botched the title somehow and also the text underlay but it's a nice motet). I think I have some others but need to check. These two show up separately as propers, so I'm sure that's how they got set.

    The Offertory is a whole different bird. There aren't that many settings of it, other than the usual Palestrina SATTB in the Offertoria (vol 17 on the shelf, I think), but Fazekas and I both wrote settings of it (for what that's worth).

    Besides the mass propers, there are a couple other sources for things that would be appropriate. The BVM has always been sort of a patroness of weddings, and they often have an Ave Maria nowadays for the bride to take flowers up to her statue. I suspect this is the modern manifestation of something quite ancient, and it opens up quasi-limitless opportunities to sing (or play) Marian things. There are lots of grand old texts from the office for the Common of the Virgin like Diffusa est gratia, Quem terra pontus (nice Byrd 3-part of that one), Congratulamini mihi omnes (Sebastien de Brossard soprano & bc), Felix namque (TONS of English settings, instrumental even more than vocal), Ave Maria gratia plena (you could do 500 weddings and never repeat a setting), Dignare me laudare te, Specie tua et pulchritudine tua, Ave maris stella, Nigra sum, Sancta Maria succurre, Beata es Virgo Maria (only a few less than Ave Maria gr pl - a nice 3-part one by Buonaugurio da Tivoli you could do on recorders - see the Knud Jeppesen Musica Sacra in Italia (3vols) in Haydn), and tons more....

    On this subject, don't forget the four great Marian antiphons, according to the season - Alma Redemptoris, Ave Regina caelorum, Regina caeli and Salve Regina - and also all the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) settings. There are some lovely Surge amica meas.

    There are few settings I have found of other parts of the Book of Tobit (Lassus - Presidium Sara dulce meum (AATBar)), but I have not yet gotten very far searching for these - I suspect there are a lot more than meet the eye at first. And, last but not least, you could always do something proper to the mass itself (not just the nuptial mass) or something Eucharistic. An example of the first would be any setting of Domine non sum dignus (Victoria, Byrd), In principio erat Verbum (Layolle à 3 in the "Music of the Florentine Renaissance" series), etc. Eucharistic pieces are found in the thousands, so I don't even know where to begin.

    Well, I had better get back to work. As you can see, you can search in widening circles, anywhere from the relatively few settings of the actual propers for the nuptial mass, through settings of material from the office, to the endless Marian things (either graduale or breviary) and eucharistic music of the last more or less 800 years. If I were looking and had enough advance warning I might even set some nuptial text to a textless motet from somewhere (Obrecht, some of those things in Das Erbe) - of courser, that would be for vocal music...
  • Heath
    Posts: 901
    Jeffrey, wow! I'll need to look up this friend of yours!

    Bruce, check out this thread:
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,069
    Heath, thanks: I knew of that thread, but had posted this one just because of the limited choral forces we have available.

    Jeffrey, I appreciate that list, too. A lot of nice things in there, and few that I had forgotten. It's likely that we will do a simple vernacular setting of the propers anyway, and the Salve. Thanks!
  • Check this site and see if something suits the available means. I bet the fairly easy Introit setting (to a faux-bourdon by Lassus) would do well. Hassler's setting of psalm 127 may also be of use (you could e.g. sing only its second half at communion), but perhaps transcribing the scores to G and F clefs will be necessary.