Thursday, 2 February 2012

Psalm Tones for Night Prayer: Psalm 15(16) - Tone I

The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection)Image via Wikipedia

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus.

He whom God raised up did not see corruption. - Acts 13
Before getting stuck in to this tone, this might be a good moment to summarise how we're getting on with learning the tones for night prayer:

Tone for 2nd Psalm
Nunc Dimittis

Sunday 1
At last, all-powerful Master...
Sunday 2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High...
At last...

At last...

At last...
At last...
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
At last...

At last...

All the MP3s are here, and this is a one-page PDF summary of all the tones. I didn't post it earlier to avoid scariness, since it all looks more daunting in a lump like this. Here is the LLPB's Psalm Tone Distribution Table as well.

Here's tone I. There are loads of terminations to choose from, but I have a recording with termination g, which seems relatively straightforward:

This time the mediant has two stresses (but with no preparatory syllables), and the termination only one stress (but two preparatory syllables). Remember that the neume for the stressed syllable in the termination means a lower note followed by a higher note on the one syllable. So here is our text for Psalm 15, marked appropriately:
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in yóu.†
I say to the Lord: 'Yóu are my Gód.*
My happiness lies in you alóne.'

I will bless the Lord who gíves me cóunsel,*
who even at night directs my héart.
I keep the Lord ever ín my síght:*
since he is at my right hand, I shall stand fírm.

And so my heart rejoices, my sóul is glád;*
even my body shall rest in sáfety.
For you will not leave my sóul among the déad,*
nor let your beloved know decáy.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; I think it's a good idea to read the text through first, paying attention to the stresses. I'd do that before listening to my version. The whole point, as far as I'm concerned, is to have tones which you can use to sing any psalm (or canticle) you care to mention, as an aid to meditative, scriptural prayer. And that means thinking about the words first and foremost in any case.

Well, having said that, here's how I reckon it should sound. First I tried singing the flex by starting with the tenor on "you" then dropping down, but it sounded really lame, so instead I just decided to treat the lower note as the stress - much better. Lots of stressed final syllables in this text, so it ends up being rather melismatic, but that's fine with me.

Now, with two psalm tone posts in a row, I'd better take a little break. I think I'll try and memorise the whole psalm, get the whole deal down...

P.S. It's a bloody nightmare getting a table into a blog entry, and the blockquoting leaves something to be desired too. I guess that's why they did a new interface; guess I'll have to switch.
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