Saturday, 9 January 2016

Anglican Chant: Psalm 103

Single Anglican chant in D by J. Jones, Public Domain - midi
From 'Psalter & Canticles with Appropriate Chants', ed. J. Turle 1865
Sacred Heart
VII Easter*
III Lent

L’amore del Sig | nore | è per | sempre.
Il Signore è | buono e | grande nell'a | more.
Il Signore è buono e grande nell'amore.

Il Signore è buono e grande nell'amore.
Benedetto il Sig | nore nell' | alto dei | cieli.

Il Signore ha piet | à del | suo | popolo.
Il Signore è buono e grande nell'amore.

1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8+10
1-2, 3-4, 8+10, 12-13
1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

1-2, 3-4, 8+10, 12-13
1-2, 11-12, 19-20

1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8+11
1-2, 3-4, 8+10, 12-13

Single Anglican chant in D by J. Alcock, Public Domain - midi
From 'Psalter & Canticles with Appropriate Chants' for Psalm 103, ed. J. Turle 1865

1. Benedici il Signore, | anima | mia, : quanto è in me bene | dica il suo | santo | nome.
2. Benedici il Signore, | anima | mia, : non dimenticare | tutti i suoi | bene | fici.

3. Egli perdona tutte le | tue | colpe, : guarisce tutte le | tue in | fermi | tà,
4. salva dalla fossa la | tua | vita, : ti circonda di bon | tà e | miseri | cordia,

6. Il Signore compie | cose | giuste, : difende i di | ritti di | tutti gli op | pressi.
7. Ha fatto conoscere a Mosè le | sue | vie, : le sue opere ai | figli | d'Isra | ele.

8. Misericordioso e pie | toso è il Sig | nore, : lento all' | ira e | grande nell'a | more.
9. Non è in | lite per | sempre, : non rimane adi | rato | in e | terno.
10. Non ci tratta secondo i | nostri pec | cati : e non ci ripaga se | condo le | nostre | colpe.
11. Perché quanto il cielo è alto | sulla | terra, : così la sua misericordia è po | tente su | quelli che lo | temono.
12. Quanto dista l'oriente dall' | occi | dente, : così egli allontana da | noi le | nostre | colpe.
13. Come è tenero un padre | verso i | figli, : così il Signore è tenero | verso | quelli che lo | temono.

19. Il Signore ha posto il suo | trono nei | cieli : e il suo regno | domina | l'uni | verso.
20. Benedite il Signore, | angeli | suoi, : potenti esecu | tori dei | suoi co | mandi.

*When not replaced by Ascension.

Now, you may be wondering what all of this is supposed to mean. It's like this: I was thinking back to my time at Sacred Heart in Exeter, and how we used to sing the Psalm in four-part harmony every week - it was great. The organist, Tegywn, had effectively put together an entire church Psalter. That's quite a feat, but he wasn't mental: he did it using Anglican chant, which is designed to simplify this sort of thing. And since they're old, you can find some helpful free resources on line. I found the ones I'm using in this Catholic music forum. The tricky thing, Teg said, was finding pieces in the right key to match the responses.
The [gradual or responsorial psalm] after the lessons [...] has a special importance among the songs of the Proper. By its very nature, it forms part of the Liturgy, of the Word. - Musicam Sacram, Vatican II
I decided to look at the Lectionary to work out how much effort you'd need to put in to get going with such a thing. With the help of this site, I've found that if you concentrate on the eleven most frequently used Psalms for Sundays and major feasts, you end up covering something like 25% of them (it would be a bit more in a parish which used all the Psalms for the Easter Vigil). So I thought I'd make a start.

There's more than one school of thought on how to do Anglican chant unfortunately, but basing myself on the simplified explanation currently on Wikipedia, the following is mine.

The note durations aren't what they might seem: the rhythm is instead based on speech. In particular, the semibreves at the start and after the double bar line are reciting notes i.e. the words are chanted rhythmically according to the natural cadence. When you get to a | symbol, you chant the following words to the notes in the next bar. If there are two or more notes, the first note is used up until the last syllable (unless indicated otherwise). The : symbol in the text corresponds to the double bar line. I've underlined the parts where the last notes are to be sung to more than one syllable. In practice, it's easier to follow a natural rhythm on the reciting notes, but an effort should be made to maintain the principle for the varied notes that follow.

This is easier than it may appear. Rough example: soprano part, v. 10-11. The midi files I made (links in image captions) give an idea of idea of how it sounds overall, but are pretty useless and misleading in terms of timing.

The pointing of the Italian is mine, based for the most part on the stresses in the text. Since I'm English, it may be necessary to improve it, but I think it's ok for a start. The chant for the strophes is simply one of the ones suggested by Turle in 'The Psalter and Canticles with Appropriate Chants', but, as Teg before me, I had to work a little harder for the response, not much though: it's the first other single chant in D found in the index at the start. I've put the whole thing - since one of the good things about Anglican chants is that it should be possible, theoretically to use them with any Psalm you like - but I've only pointed the responses for use with the second half, after the double bar line. This seems sort of okayish to me. Since I'm not a musician, it'll have to do. With just the soprano line it seems fine to me; in fact I think we always sang the soprano part in unison for the response at Sacred Heart - perhaps this is why.

Just in case the information at the top isn't clear, I'll spell it out here: the first column is the specific Mass, grouped by liturgical year, then there's the text of the response (pointed at least the first time) and then the Psalm verses used.