Friday, 22 August 2014

Evening class: Discovering Hymns

Ever wanted to know more about your favourite hymns? This course looks at the history of Christian hymns, exploring their musical, literary and theological qualities and uncovering the stories behind their creation. This course equips students with a more informed and critical view of hymns without taking away their pleasure in singing them. Learn a lot and have fun!

Tutor: Dr Ben Whitworth
Venue: Kirkwall Grammar School
Wednesdays from 24th September
8 meetings
7.00-9.00 p.m.
Course fee: £56
Max: 20 students

Please enrol by Friday 29 August: click here for further details.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gregorian Chant Hymns

This new website created by the Schola Sanctae Scholasticae is a tremendous resource for learning the hymns and other devotional chants of the Latin plainsong tradition.

One example - the Regina coeli - will suffice to show how useful this site could be.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Angela Chiochetti sings "Panis Angelicus" in the Chapel her father decorated


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I didn't anticipate that!

I just worked my way through the rather complicated rubrics governing the occurrence of feast days around Holy Week in the Use of Nidaros, and it transpires that anyone following that august and venerable Use should this year be transferring the Feast of St Magnus, by anticipation, to ... TODAY! Happy Feast!



(In the Roman Rite, the Feast will be transferred to Monday 28 April.)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Lenten chants

From the Parish Book of Chant.

The prose Attende Domine (p. 141):


The antiphon Parce Domine with strophic verses (p. 142):


The sequence Stabat Mater, in the tone usually used at Stations of the Cross (p. 143):


The Marian antiphon Ave Regina caelorum (simple tone) (p. 120):

Monday, 9 December 2013

Advent chants

The hymn Conditor alme siderum:


The hymn Veni, veni Emmanuel:


The prose Rorate caeli desuper:


The Marian anthem Alma redemptoris mater in its simple tone:


Or, for the more ambitious, in its solemn tone:

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Nesciens mater

Nesciens mater is the antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin that is sung in the Use of Nidaros after Compline, from Christmas until Candlemas. We learnt it last week at the Schola, and I am going to make a recording of it as a practice aid; however, a recording by the Choir of Winchester Cathedral from 2000 has just been re-released. The antiphon is available for download (price: 10 pence), and as it is less than a minute in length, you can actually listen to the whole thing on the website of Hyperion Records.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Compline on CD

As the recently revived Compline group is taking a week off (meeting again on Tuesday 11 December), one member asked me whether I had any CDs with Compline on, that could be used for learning at home.

The answer is "yes and no". Historically, Compline was one of the most stable rites in Christian worship, with the same psalms, canticle, antiphons, &c. being sung almost every night in almost every part of Western Christendom. But there were always small variations in text and music; even after the Roman office of Compline became homogenised in the age of printing, the religious orders adhered to their own unique variants. Following the Second Vatican Council, the revised office of Compline allowed for a great deal of variety - and some religious houses continued to cherish their own peculiarities even within the reformed rite.

As a result of all this, CD recordings of Compline - whether they are historical reconstructions or simply recordings of a monastery at its Work - are like snowflakes: no two the same. And this makes them of limited use as learning aids.

I have four CDs with Compline, but only a few items are precisely the same as what we are learning in the group:

1. Chant: Music for Paradise, the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz (Universal). CD1, track 21 (the Gospel canticle) includes the antiphon "Salva nos" in exactly the form we are using; but N.B. the tone for the canticle itself is a different one.

2. More Sublime Gregorian Chant, the Cathedral Singers/directed by Richard Proulx (Kevin Mayhew). Track 25 is an exemplary performance of the hymn Te lucis ante terminum, using the same melody that we are learning. The only difference is that they sing it in English, and - oddly - the final "amen" is omitted.

3. Lauds of the Transfiguration and Sunday Compline, Benedictine Monks of Pluscarden Abbey (Pluscarden Abbey). Our friends in the South sing Compline according to the Benedictine tradition, and the only exact overlap with our version of the office is the Lord's Prayer (part of track 16).

4. A Treasury of Gregorian Chants, vol. 1, Benedictine Monks of En Calcat (gets churned out periodically by various record companies) includes (as track 11) four minutes of Compline highlights. The first part, from "Jube, domne" to "Deo gratias" is the same as what we are using.

The CD I mentioned last night is Nox Lucis: The Night of Light by the wonderful Finnish duo Vox Silentii. The album includes the antiphon we started learning last night, O florens rosa, which we're singing from the transcription which Vox Silentii kindly sent me.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Recordings: Compline on Tuesday per annum

As a learning aid, I have made some recordings of Compline as we are singing it on Tuesday evenings, following the order of Compline found in the liturgical books of the Use of Nidaros. Click on the respective parts of the Office to play an mp3 file.

Preamble (Jube, Domine, &c.)
Opening verses (Converte nos, &c.)
Antiphon: Miserere mihi
Psalm 4
Psalm 30
Psalm 90
Psalm 133
Antiphon: Miserere mihi (repeated)
Hymn: Te lucis
Chapter (Jeremiah 14.9)
Versicle (Custodi nos, &c.)
Antiphon: Salva nos
Canticle: Nunc dimittis
Antiphon: Salva nos (repeated)
Preces part 1
Preces part 2
Preces part 3
Preces part 4
Prayer: Illumina quaesumus
Benedicamus Domino
Antiphon in honour of our Lady: O florens rosa
Antiphon in honour of St Magnus: O martyr Magne

For the record, the total length of these recordings comes to 21 minutes 30 seconds.