Critique my (EF) sung Vespers program!
  • Here's a program I've worked up for Vespers this coming Wednesday. No priest, no incense, no cassocks; right now this is just for some friends who are interested. The rector is, however, receptive, and one of my goals is to get at least some semi-regular singing of the Office instituted, perhaps before choir practice or after Mass. We shall see.

    That said, I make no claims whatsoever to be any sort of expert in the Office. I am going off of, plus my slim background knowledge. For those of you with experience who want to take a glance, am I missing anything? Doing anything wrong? Thanks!

    (Oh, and yes, those psalm translations are in Spanish.)
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 341
    Why do you consider the Gloria Patri of each psalm a verse-response pair? As long as I know, the two verses of the doxology are usually sung just as any of the preceding psalm verses, with choirs alternating, not in alternation cantor-all, as the V. and R. suggest.
  • Good question. I wasn't intending that any difference from the preceding verses; it is that way because I originally copy-and-pasted it from, which, for reasons unknown, uses "V." and "R." for the verses of the Gloria Patri. I suppose I will go ahead and replace them with numbers for clarity's sake.
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    Yes, I'd replace them with numbers.
  • The program looks good.
    Best wishes to your goals.

    My tips:

    #1. If you can achieve having part of the divine office sung regularly in entirely in latin, you are REALLY dedicated Catholics. I tried to encourage some "traditional" catholics to sing vespers entirely in latin once and concluded that they could not manage, they knew the basic unchanging words of the latin mass, but for the average person singing entire psalms in latin is off limits. They gave up and lost interest sad to say. Hopefully other people have different results. For that reason I use exclusively english psalms at this point. For some that makes me look like a sell out, but it certainly does gain better "participation".

    #2. Figure out what pitch everyone is comfortable on and begin each mode in that transposed pitch everytime you sing them. Mark them down on paper or print them out permanently so you remember them everytime.

    #3. Unless you intend to do it irregularly only for the major feasts, avoiding making too many booklets/papers of pointed psalms,. Stay using same texts most days and do it onnce a week at a regular time when all who are interested are most often available to pray . For the most important feasts such as Nativity, Epiphany, Pascha, Pentecost, making papers or booklets is moreso a necessity during early stages of learning.

    At some point you need to have the most common psalm tones memorized (not that many are used in reality) and have an entire psalter pointed and use three different books together (antiphonale, psalterium, hymnarius etc.) , as monasteries do. The advantage of using latin is that their are entire pointed psalters that exist more commonly in that language and it is slightly less tricky to sing to the tones than english.

    #4. Use a fauxbourdone or harmonized/polyphony setting of the magnificat at every other verse for feast days, or Saturdays/Sundays. As nice as they are, eventually people grow tired of the same solemn monodic magnificat/benedictus tones being used every single time for all verses. Harmonized psalm tones can also be good additions as well, but the canticle at the end makes the most difference to change the setting of at times. Michael Praetorious also made excellent harmonized versions of many of the chant office hymns using the same ancient monodic melodies, they are powerful.

    #5. Squeeze in some kind of short litany or intercessory prayer at the end before the benedicamus or even after the final antiphon to BVM, after vespers is officially ended. I think people appreciate this. Most monasteries have some prayer unique to them that they say around this point. It never entirely became a formal part of every vespers in the latin rite, but by golly, it should have !

    I find people gain much from any kind of additional prayer toward the end, especially from historic sources or saints. A homily/sermon by a church father relating to the church calendar time also is good, though that can add too much time for some people.

  • Thanks for all the advice Chris; that's very valuable. Right now, as I say, this is strictly for some friends who are interested, and only on Wednesday, to avoid having to cope with too much variation. If it were to "take off," I expect it would be mostly in Spanish, at least for the psalms and orations. We do not yet include the vocal capacity to do four-part harmony, though your suggestion makes me consider doing some sort of ison for the Magnificat. Hmm. And I definitely like your idea of working some intercessions into an appropriate interstice.
  • I am am the odd advocate of using two and three part harmony/polyphony instead of 4 part. Tell me which mode you use for the magnificat on wednesdays and I'll post a latin 16th c. two part setting of it here.

    The ferial preces are what was used before 1968 for ferial days.
  • Thanks, Chris, that would be awesome. Upcoming Wednesdays look like they will be modes 7, 1, 4, and 4, respectively. Anything you're able to post will be appreciated!
  • Hmm, I assumed you used a standard ferial Magnificat week after week. (Now I know in the 2007 antiphonale monasticum they give the option to use two different antiphons in a two week cycle) .

    I guess I'll give you one in tone four than, since you mention it twice.
  • Ah -- no, I've been going "by the book" (in this case the LU, and theAntiphonale Romanum to fill its occasional lacunae, such as on Ash Wednesday), so it varies pretty regularly. Thanks!