Friday, May 23, 2008

Prostration on the Forms

The practice of Prostratio in Formis ("prostration on the forms"), or simply Prostratio ("prostration"), is probably as old as the Dominican Order and rubrics on it are found in the Ordinary of the Humbert Codex (1256), the codification of the Dominican Rite. The rubrics on this rite were codified in their modern form in the Jandel Caeremoniale of 1869, nn. 781ff., which I will outline. Prostration on the Forms is made by kneeling, with the capuce raised, in the choir stall and bowing over the kneeler of the stall, with the head inclined. You can see this gesture in the image to the right, which shows the practice in a French Dominican house during the 1950s. When there is no "form" or kneeler, the gesture is made by kneeling on the ground and bowing low.

The use of prostration on the forms continued in the Dominica Rite until the reforms of 1963, when the prostration was replaced by simple kneeling. At that date the elaborate rubrics for raising and lowering the capuce were also abrogated. It is interesting that after the Order's adaption of the Roman Rite, the Proprium Ordinis Praedicatorum of 1982, which provides for elements of our ancient liturgy that may be retained in the New Roman Rite, we find in the section on the Liturgy of the Hours, in "Indicationes pro Celebrationibus Liturgicis," n. 38, on p. lxxxiv: Pro opportunitate, fratres in quibusdam occasionibus possunt etiam prostrationem facere. I might mention that I have never seen Prostration on the Forms used with the modern Office, but this rubric sanctions its use. There is nothing in the Proprium to indicate that it may be used at Mass. No specific occasions are given, but, if this practice is to be used, the traditional norms of Office may give some guide. For historical interest, however, I will describe the use of Prostrations for Mass as well as Office in the traditional rite.

Prostration, like kneeling, has, in the Order and the Church, a dual meaning. It is a penitential gesture of humiliation, as modern liturgists never ceasing reminding us, but it is also a gesture of adoration, without any penitential significance. Its use reflects that dual quality both as to liturgical days and parts of the liturgy. Most generally, Prostration was used for adoration or humiliation, outside of festive seasons. This means that, in general, it was used on Ferials outside of Easter time. It was never used on Sundays from Vespers to Vespers, even in Lent--when it was used on all other days, even solemnities, like the Annunciation. It was omitted on the ferials when the O Antiphons were sung and, oddly, during the Solemn Litanic Preces of Lauds during the Easter Triduum. It was also done (outside the forms in the middle of choir) as a gesture of respect by the reader after completion of the readings at Matins.

Prostration as a penitential gesture, with no variation for the seasons, was practiced in various other rituals: during the recitation of the Seven Penitential Psalms, at the giving of the General Absolution for infractions of the Rule and Constitutions (which do not bind under sin). It was also the posture for receiving the Discipline, As an act of adoration, it was employed when the Sacrament was removed from the tabernacle in the pyx until it was restored, and when it was carried in procession past the friars, whether in or outside of choir. It was also used at General Commuions during Mass, and at all Communions outside of Mass (I have discussed this ritual in part five of an earlier post on the Solemn Mass). As a gesture of adoration, it was also done during the singing of the Passion at the mention of the Death of Christ, and at the Liturgy of Good Friday, during the singing of the Ecce Lignum Crucis, which is only sung once in our Rite.

At Solemn Mass. On Ferials inside and outside of Lent, except in Easter season, the prostration was made during the Opening Collect and the Postcommunion Collect at Solemn Mass, otherwise the friars simply bowed. During Lent (except Sundays) and all vigils (except those of Christmas and Epiphany), from the completion of the singing of the Sanctus until the Agnus Dei, those in choir prostrated on the forms. This was not only an act of adoration and humility, but also an act of self-denial since it meant that the friars could not look up to see the Elevation. I suspect that this long prostration was the original practice during the Consecration. The Elevation of the Host is first witnesses in Paris in 1205. The Dominican Rite add the Elevation of the Chalice only in the late 1200s. The introduction of the Elevations was to provide visual contact with the Blessed Sacrament, and our rubrics provide for this. Outside of the times just listed, the prostration was made only from after the Elevation of the Chalice until the singing of the Pater Noster. I might add that the celebrating priest and other ministers never made the Prostration during Mass.

At Divine Office. In the Ferial Office, the Prostration was made: 1. During the silent Pater and Credo preceding Office; 2. At the doxology after Deus in Adiutorium; 3. At the Preces (including the Pater Noster) before the Final Collect; 4. During the Confiteor at Compline and Prime. Dominicans who want to incorporate this ancient practice in the modern Liturgy of the Hours following the suggestion of the Proprium, might first consider its use at the Confiteor of Compline (where the Proprium already specifies kneeling) and then during the Intercessions and Our Father at Lauds and Vespers in Lent. This does not, of course, exclude other possibilities.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dominican Rite Missa Cantata at San Buenaventura Mission CA

First a picture of San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura, California. This mission has had Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite for a good number of years at 1:30 p.m. on Sundays. For the last two or so, Fr. Paul K. Raftery, O.P. a Dominican of the Western Dominican Province and chaplain at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula has been supplying there, celebrating the traditional Dominican Rite Mass.

In this photo see the interior of the Mission with a view of the High Altar, prepared for a Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite on Sunday April 27, the day traditionally called the Fourth Sunday after the Octave of Easter in the Domnican Rite.

This image shows Fr. Paul at the Epistle Side after the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. This is his position during the reading of the Officium (as we call the Introit), the Kyrie, the Gloria, Collect, Epistle, and the intervening chants. Fr. Paul read all of these quietly as the schola sang them, except for the Collect and the Epistle, which he himself chanted according to the Dominican tone. We only have one tone for the Epistle and it is similar to that found in the Roman books as "an ancient authentic tone." As this is a Mass in Easter time the two chants are both Alleluias.

In the Missa Cantata according to our Rite, the chalice is prepared at the altar as Fr. Paul is doing here, while the choir sings the intervening chants. In the Solemn Mass, it is prepared at this point, but by the ministers at the sedilla (the single bench used by all three major ministers in our Rite). The famous Dominican preparation of the chalice before the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar is only done in the Low Mass.

In this image, Fr. Paul has moved to the Gospel side of the altar to sing the Gospel. We have only one Gospel tone, and it is similar to one of the Roman ones. After this, Fr. Paul preached his sermon.

Here we see the genuflection at the Incarnatus est of the Creed, which Fr. Paul has been reading quietly as it was sung by the choir and congregation. Normally the priest in the Dominican Rite moves to the center of the altar to make this genuflection, but it is not unknown for him to do it more Romano at the book, as Father does here. In our books there is actually only one truly Dominican Credo, it is similar to the Roman Credo I.

Here the thurifer is incensing Father Paul at the Offertory. The thurifer will incense the two acolytes during the singing of the Sanctus. If this were a Solemn Mass, that would also be the time when he would incense the deacon and subdeacon. Our Offertory is made in a single oblation of Host and Chalice together. And, of course, the chalice has already been prepared at the intervening chants.

Here Fr. Paul is reading the Sanctus and about to begin the Canon as the choir and congregation sing. At this point a Sanctus Candle (or several) may be lighted. You can see it as the very small candle between the last two o nthe Epistle side in this photo.

The Elevation of the Host. In the Dominican Rite the Sanctus and Benedictus are properly sung together, so after the elevations there is silence until the doxology of the Canon, even at a Missa Cantata.

After the elevations in our Rite, the priest extends his arms moderately to form a Cross, calling to mind the Sacrifice of Calvary, which is re-presented for us at Mass. This posture is maintained until the blessings at the end of the prayer Unde et memores, at which point the usual close orans posture is resumed. Note we do not extend our arms all the way in this cross posture, unlike the Carthusians and Carmelites (I believe).

Here we see the procession leaving the church. Unlike secular clergy who wear birettas in the traditional rite processions, the Dominican practice is to raise the capuce (here covered by the large Dominican style amice) coming in and going out.

And finally we close with a view from the back of Fr. Paul Rafterty, showing the capuce and amice.

I am told that the servers at the mission have gone through the trouble to learn two sets of responses, those for the Roman and those for the Dominican rite. They are to be congratulated and thanked.

Credit to California Roamin' Catholic for these lovely photographs.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Compline Booklet Available Here!

I thank all the readers for the comments and questions that they have sent me by email or left in comment boxes. The orrected version of the Completorium Novum is now available. It is also available in format for printing as a booklet here. Links may also be found on our sidebar to the left. Most importantly, two musical problems were fixed. The Litany of Loreto is now cleaner, and I have added choir rubrics from Dominican Proprium (1982) to the introduction.

A number of questions and comments sent to me concern choices made in the compilation of this booklet, as to why I did nor did not include some piece of chant or text. My goal in this project was to include everything that is in the Liturgia Horarum for Compline exactly as it is modified by the official Properium Ordinis Praedicatorum of 1982. My hope wat that this would keep my personal taste out of the process as much as possible. Everything present in the normative Liturgia Horarum is included; anything changed or added by the Properium is changed or added. Nothing else is added, changed, or deleted. Options present in these texts are all present, but no others.

I received one gratifying piece of news, a student from one of the American Dominican provinces contacted me to let me know that they have downloaded the Completorium Novum in the booklet format and intend to start using it at Saturday Night Compline in their Studentate. Very gratifying!

I would still appreciate comments and corrections on this project, and I will do my best to address them. If you decide to use this book for singing Compline, I would be very pleased to here about how it works out.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How to Sing Dominican Chant


Those who know Gregorian music, especially with the so-called Solesmes marks, are often surprised when they first encounter printed versions (or on-line manuscript) versions of Dominican chant. The first thing they notice is the complete absence of the Solesmes marks: epistema, dot, ictus, etc. The next thing they notice is that there is no quilisma. The so-called "expressive neumes" are totally absent. Then there is that funny Dominican quarter bar: it is not on the top line of the staff, but moves up and down to the height of the note it follows. And the double bar appears where in the Roman books one expects an asterisk. Finally they notice that the liquescents often appear on diphthongs and liquid consonants where they are lacking in Roman music.

Modern Dominican books reproduce the shape of the neumes in the medieval manuscripts of our music, which were based on the Humbert of Roman Codex exemplar of 1254, which still exists as MS 1 in the Domincan Archives in Rome. In order to sing our music properly, cantors need to know the system of interpretation explained in the treatises of Jerome of Moravia (d. after 1271. probably Scottish), a Dominican musicologist, who codified traditional practice. An image of his treatise De Musica, copied at the beginning of every medieval Dominican Antiphonal, is at the top of this post. It is from the fourteenth-century Poissy Antiphonal.

His system for rhythm is presented in an accessible, albeit Latin, form in the Dominican Processionarium of 1949. The Dominican system of adapting psalm tones to the psalms found in that book was suppressed in 1965 with the publication of the post-Vatican II Regulae Cantus in favor of the Benedictine method, although the Dominican melodies of the tones were left unchanged. But for all other chants, the thirteenth-century system continues in use today, in continuity with the living tradition of chant extending in an unbroken line back to the earliest days of the Order. The most important section of the Regulae Cantus for interpreting the chant is Section III, "De pausis et earum signis et proportione." I have adapted that section for use by choirs, and will present it in another post, but first singers need to know certain things.

1. Dominican and Gregorian neumes mean the same thing as to relative pitch on the staff as indicated by the clef. Those who do not know how to read neumes and what their names are, should consult the many books and on-line aids that explain this before reading any further.

2. In our chant, the two liquescents (the Ephiphonus and the Cephalicus) normally indicate a diphthong or liquid consonant. Since, in normal speech, the two sounds of the diphthong slur into a single vowel and the liquid is a semi-vowel merging into the following or preceding vowel, the two notes in these neumes do not get equal length. In these neumes the small note in each is given about half the length of the larger. The same is done for liquescents even when they do not indicate a diphthong or liquid. A careful student will notice that we regularly use liquescents where Benedictine and Roman music has the two sounds of a diphthong sung on two distinct puncta, e.g., the separation of the "e" and "i" of the "ei" in Eleison.

3. The double bar in our system has two uses. They are very different and have some variations. Here they are:

3A. Most commonly, the double bar indicates the end of a major phrase, at which one side of the choir stops singing, and the other side takes over, following the traditional system (not only Dominican) of "antiphonal singing." This meaning is especially common in Kyries where the last Kyrie is sung by one choir, then the other, then both together. This shift is indicated in Roman books by asterisk and double asterisk. We use double bars. This use of the double bar also indicates a lengthening of the last syllable(s) of the phrase according to a system I will explain later.

3B. The double bar also appears at the beginning of a chant, after the first word or couple of words: there it indicates where the choir comes in to join the cantor who has intoned the piece. It functions like the asterisk in Roman chant. In this case, it does NOT indicate any lengthening of the previous notes.

3C. An interesting variant of this is found in Dominican books for the Gloria. There is one double bar to indicate the end of the priest's intonation phrase: "Gloria in excelsis Deo." But then there is another double bar at the end of "et in terra pax," an odd place to put it. This phrase belongs to the cantor. The choir comes in after that second double bar on the word "hominibus." Why? Many priests cannot sing for beans. They will foul up the intonation, but in the old rite they had to do it. So, the choir ignored what the priest sang and waited to hear the correct pitch and melody from the first cantor. Many priests simply recto-toned their intonation. The Gloria is the only place where this system is used.

4. Expressive neumes and quilisma do not exist in Dominican music. They did not exist as far as I know in any thirteenth-century chant manuscript. The expressive neumes are the product of Solesmes theorists. The quilisma is founded on the appearance, at certain places in the pre-staff notation, of a kind of fuzzy squiggle. There have been long debates over what it meant. My personal opinion is that it originally indicated the half-step and had no phrasing significance. Prof. William Mahrt of the CMAA, with whom I have discussed this, says that is very possible I am right, although he thinks it indicated a light vibrato. Good news! None of this matters for those singing Dominican chant because we don't have any of these flourishes.


The most debated and controversial issue in performance of Gregorian Chant since its nineteenth-century revival has been the issue of rhythm. The earliest manuscripts with Gregorian music have no staff and so present grave problems of interpretation for pitch and intervals. But they do have a whole series of other marks that in part seem to indicate phrasing and rhythm. Manuscripts after the eleventh century have a staff with a clef to indicate "do" or "fa" and so solve the interval problem, but they seem to have little or anything to indicate phrasing and rhythm.

The modern science of musical semeiotics has attempted to resolve this problem. The Solesmes marks and system(s) allow an interpretation of both pitch and rhythm. What I am about to describe is how Dominicans have dealt with the problem of rhythm since the 1200s. I do not claim that this system is "better" than any of the modern Solesmes methods, including that of Dom Mocquereau, currently in favor with workshops sponsored by the Church Music Association of America. Those who want to sing Dominican music, however, cannot use that method because it depends on the presence of Solesmes marks, and these do not exist in our books.

Principles of Phrasing

As you read these principles, you can consult the sample image of various bars and neumes from the Processional, pasted here:

1. The most important determination of phrasing is the meaning of the Latin text. Dominicans break the text into what might be called longer phrases, and then break the longer phrases into shorter ones. This is the way we punctuate English. A period or semicolon indicates the end of a major phrase; the comma (or implicit unwritten "comma") indicates a "joint" between the shorter clauses.

2. The punctuation marks of Dominican chant are the double bar (A), the single bar (E), and the half bar (D). The quarter bar (C), which moves up and down, is NOT a punctuation mark. The single bar and double bar are very similar: both indicate a full stop and a point at which a full breath may be taken. The difference is that after a double bar, the other choir takes up the new phrase; the same choir continues to sing after the single bar. In small choirs it is common not to alternate between choirs. In that case, both of these bars are treated the same way--although it is common to make the pause after the double bar a bit longer since it sometimes (as in hymns) indicates a new stanza. The half bar indicates a minor break or joint in the phrase. The pause is shorter and a short breath may be taken.

3. The quarter bar is not a rest or a break; its function is similar to the Solesmes dot. It serves ONLY to lengthen the previous note. No breath is taken at a quarter bar. There is no break in the phrase. Back at choir practice in our Western Dominican House of Studies in Oakland during the 1970s, this was called the "don't breath here bar." Some people even cancelled them out with a pencil and put in a dot instead. Although lazy singers often took a breath at quarter bars (and the lengthening of the previous note tended to cover this), it is very bad form and ruins the phrasing. It is better for people to stagger their gasps for breath at any place other than a quarter bar.

4. Although it is not noted in the music by any mark, singers "take off" (slightly accelerate) as they begin a phrase, and "make a landing" (slowly retard) as they end the phrase. They do this in a more delicate way in the minor phrases ended by half bars. This acceleration and retard is so delicate that it should be hardly noticeable, just as the similar change in velocity is hardly noticeable in ordinary speech.

5. Singers hold the syllable(s) that precede the bar, be it a double, single, half, or quarter bar. This is distinct from the gentle progressive retard of the "landing." The proper way to do this is to slow down, hold, and taper off in volume so as to let the note fade away. Avoid, at all costs, staccato stops.

6. In music with one neume per syllable, the number of syllables held is determined by accented (or virtually accented) syllable.

6A. Lengthen the last syllable before the bar if the word there a monosyllable (e.g., "te").

6B. If the word has more than one syllable (e.g., "nobis"), and the penult (second to last) is accented, lengthen that and the final syllable.

6C. If two syllables follow the accented one (e.g, "Dominus"), lengthen the last syllable only: it is considered "virtually accented."

6D. So, you never lengthen more than two syllables.

6E. Finally, if you are singing a hymn, sequence, or other music with a poetic meter, ignore these rules and lengthen ONLY the last syllable of the line.

7. In melismatic chants, i.e., those with more than one note per syllable, lengthen only the last neume or part of a neume.

7A. If the last syllable of the last word is melismatic and the penult is a simple punctum, you lengthen only the last syllable, even if the penult is accented. Conversely, if the if the last syllable has a punctum and the penult is melismatic, you lengthen only the last syllable, even if the penult is accented.

7B. When the last syllable has or ends with a two-note neume, e.g. a podatus or a clivus ( see B above), lengthen both notes of that neume.

7C. When the last syllable has a meume with three or more notes (see F above), lightly retard but hold only the last note in the neume.

7D. In very melismatic music, such as Alleluias and Responsories, there will be a part of the multi-note neume at the end, usually a clivus, podatus, or torculus. This part of the neume is often detached, as is the case in B and F above. Hold that part of the neume only, using rules 7B amd 7C.

8. Strive to sing all chant legato. This is very important to phrasing. At the end of all phrases avoid staccato stops. Let your voice volume taper off to silence. Do not gasp for breath; if necessary, stagger your breathing.

That's all there is to the system. It may seem more complex than having the Solesmes marks to tell you what to do, but, in fact, it is very natural and intuitive. And it seems, from writers like Jerome, that all thirteenth-century singers of chant sang this way, or in a very similar way. So, now you twentieth-century singers can sing the music in the new Roman liturgical books like the Missal, where there are no Solesmes marks!

The Salve Regina

If you do not have the French Dominican C-D Dominican Chant-Dominican Liturgy, which has the example discussed on track 20, you can order it using the link on the sidebar to the left.

Here is the music of the famous Dominican Salve Regina used all year after Compline, taken from the Antiphonarium. Take a look at it and I will apply the principles of phrasing I explained earlier. If you have the French Dominican recording of this, you might listen along as you read, in it you can hear how the phrasing and the lengthening of ending notes merge into an organic whole. They are also very good on distinguishing the strong retards at the end of major phrases from the lesser ones of the shorter clauses that make them up. To allow you to consult the rules given in the last post, I will reference them in brackets as I comment.

Phrase 1 "Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae.

This is a major phrase with a break in the middle after Regina indicated by the half bar. So the major rhythmic phrase is the whole verse and there are two minor phrases [rules 1, 2]. The take-off begins on Salve and the landing on "ae" of misericordiae. There is a light touch down on "na" of Regina because of the half bar. This kind of subtle articulation is always observed in the rest of the antiphon at the various breaks, so I will not repeat it [rule 4].

There are no "true" double bars in the antiphon Salve Regina until its end because it is traditionally sung by all, not alternately by choirs. That first "double bar," after Salve, does no more than indicate the place to which the cantor sings and at which all come in. There is no lengthening of "ve" since this double bar represents merely that the choir comes in. The clivus on "na" of Regina is lengthened, but not the melisma on "ce" of dulcedo because even though "ce" is accented, it has a compound neume [rule 7A]. The same is true of misericordia, where "cor" is accented, but the second to last note is melismatic: so only the simple neume on "ae" is lengthened [rule 7A].

Phrase 2: "Vita, dulcedo et spes nostra, salve."

This major phrase has joints after Vita and dulcedo, indicated by the half bars. The mark after nostra is a quarter bar--equals a Solesmes dot, not a phrasing mark, so it does not divide a phrase and no breath is to be taken [rule 3]. The final syllables "ta" "do" and "ve" are lengthened, but not any previous notes because the previous notes are all melismatic [rule 7A]. The melismatic neume on "tra" of nostra is lengthened because of the quarter bar, but only on the two notes of the podatus [rule 7B].

Phrase 3: "Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae."

This major phrase has a joint after clamamus indicated by the half bar. Notice the two quarter bars. The compound neume on Ad ends in a Ephiphonus, which scants the smaller note. The quarter bar lengthens te but without pausing or breath [rule 6a]. Only "mus" of clamamus and the "vae" of Hevae are lengthened because the previous accented syllables have melismas [rule 7a]. The last two notes of the porrectus on "les" of exsules are lengthened without a pause because of the quarter bar [rule 7B].

Phrase 4: "Ad te . . . valle" contains nothing new. Apply rule 6A to te, 7A to clamamus, 7B to hac, and 7A to valle.

Phrase 5: "Eja ergo advocata nostra."

The phrase is jointed after ergo by the half bar. The odd looking podatus over the "E" of Eja is composed of a regular punctum and the large note of the liquescent Chephalus because the "j" is a semivowel: but this has no affect on phrasing. Notice the liquescent Ephiphonus on "er" of ergo because r is a liquid. Because that Ephiphonus is a compound neume only the "go" is lengthened by the half bar, even though "er" is the accented syllable [rule 7A]. In contrast, nostra is a bi-syllable with simple neumes on each one: so since "nos" is accented, both syllables are lengthened [rule 6B].

Phrase 6: "illos tuos . . . converte."

There is nothing new here except the lengthening of the last note only of the neume on "los" of oculos because it is a three-note neume [rule 7C]. Otherwise, apply 7A on tuos, 7B on misericordes, and 7A on converte.

Phrase 7a: "Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui, nobis . . ."

This is routine: apply 7B on Jesum, 7A on fructum, tui, and nobis. The next part of this phrase has items of interest. Here it is with the rest of the antiphon:

Phrase 7b: "post hoc exilium ostende."

Note the lengthening of both notes of the clivus on "um" of exilium by the quarter bar, even though "si" is the accented syllable [rule 7B]. Notice also the big note (without the small) of a Ephiphonus on "sten" of ostende because "n" is a liquid--but this has no effect on singing. Both "sten" and "de" are lengthened here because they have simple neumes and "sten" is accented [rule 6B].

Phrases 8-9: "O clemens" and "o pia": nothing new. Apply 7B to both of the Os; apply 7A to clemens and pia.

Phrase 10: "o dulcis virgo Maria."

The joint in the phrase is at the half bar, which is actually in the middle of the notes on O. Note the quarter bar along with that half bar in the melisma on O. The quarter bar, as usual, lengthens the last two notes of the first neume on O without a pause or break [rule 7B]. The next neume on O after the quarter bar is lengthened only on its last note by the half bar because it has four notes [rule 7C]. Although it might seem bad form in Benedictine chant, we Dominicans normally take a small pause and a little breath, here at the half bar before attacking the rising notes that complete the melody on O, which are not lengthened because no bar follows. (Those with the French recording will notice that the French Dominicans manage to sing this without taking a breath here--a particular interpretation which may reflect a variant in the Competorium book.) The phrasing joint in this passage comes here in the middle of the run on the O. This is a not uncommon practice in Dominican chant, especially in Responsoria. Perhaps it is a concession to less disciplined non-French friars who, unlike monks, cannot sing through long runs in a single breath.

On dulcis, note the liquescent because of the "l" and that only the podatus is lengthened by the quarter bar [rule 7B]. There is a one note liquescent on "Vir" because of the "r". Finally, note that only the two notes of clivus on "a" of Maria are lengthened not the neume on the previous accented syllable [rule 7B].

Phase 11: the Alleluia.

The antiphon normally ends with Maria, so there is a double bar after it, but in Paschal time the Alleluia is added. Since there is no choir change before the Alleluia, the double bar magically equals a single bar. There are two things to notice in the Alleluia: the lengthening of the two notes of the clivus on "lu" by the quarter bar [rule 7B], with, as usual, no breath or pause before adding the last three notes. Finally, "ia" has a clivus, both notes of which are lengthened, but not the podatus on the accented syllable [rule 7B].

I hope this clarifies the rules given in my previous posts. If you notice any errors in my cross references, let me know. I think I typed them all out correctly.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dominican Compline and its Processions

I. Compline in the Dominican Rite

Those who would like to see the music that I will describe in this post may do so on the sidebar link to "Antiphonarium S.O.P. (Gillet 1933)," consulting pp. 83-135.

Perhaps the most famous liturgy of the Dominican Office is that of Compline, and its format shows that the Dominican Office is in origin that of canons, not monks. This is indicated by the presence of the canticle of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis (Lk 2: 29-32), at the end before the Collect, an element missing from the Benedictine Office, but found in the Roman. Compline, and especially the Procession that followed it, is the subject of so many stories of visions and miracles in Dominican lore that it was the one element of the choir Office not dispensed by the so-called lector's privilege.

That privilege, which dates back to the days of St. Dominic himself, exempted friars holding the "lectorate in sacred theology" and involved in full-time writing and teaching, as well as those appointed "preachers provincial" or "preachers general," and involved in full-time preaching, from attendance at the daily choral Office and sung conventual Mass. They where permitted to recite the Office privately, along with saying their private masses. Lectors and preachers did, however, have to attend Compline, so much was it considered part of our spirituality. This privilege was abolished in 1968, during the reforms after Vatican II.

In its basic structure, Dominican Compline remained unchanged from the liturgical reform of Humbert of Romans (1256), until the adoption of the Roman Office in 1969, with the exception of the Psalms. Those who know the older Roman Office will recognize the structure. It began with the examination of conscience: the invocation Noctem quietam, the chapter Fratres sobrii, the verse Adiutorium nostrum, and the Confiteor in its short Dominican form by the prior and the community. Usually the confession was made standning and bowed profoundly, but during Lent, Ember Days, Vigils and other days of penance, it was done while "prostrate on the forms" as seen in this photo. The Proprium O.P. of 1982, which provided for Dominian elements to be included in the new Mass and Office allows the retention of this custom (n. 38c).

Then followed the Office itself: the verses Converte nos and Deus in adiutorium, the antiphon Miserere and Psalms 4, 30, 90, and 133; the chapter Tu in nobis, the short responsory In manus tuas, the hymn of the season (usually the Te lucis) with its verse Custodi; the Nunc Dimittis with its antiphon Salva nos; the short preces (if a feria), the collect Visita, and the blessing by the prior. I will discuss the Procession after Compline later. In 1922 we adapted the Psalter reform of Pius X and the traditional Psalms (minus Ps. 30) were relegated to Sunday. The other days of the week had the same cycle of Psalms as the revised Roman Office--with Roman antiphons when no Dominican variant could be found. Otherwise the traditional office remained intact.

In addition, Dominican Compline had rich temporal and sanctoral variations. In common with the Roman, we had a rich variety of melodies for the hymn Te Lucis, which varied according to the grade of the feast, the time of year, and the particular feast--usually paralleling hymn melodies from the major hours. In addition, this hymn had extra verses and doxologies, especially for Marian feasts, as did the hymn Christe qui lux (Lent) and Iesu nostra redemptio (Easter time). We also used the short response In manus tuas with alleluias on solemnities as well as in Easter time. Here is an example of the Te Lucis for Saturday evening, in my opinion one of the most beautiful of the melodies. It is from the famous fourteenth-century Poissy Antiphonal:

In addition to this, our Office provided a variety of proper and common antiphons. For the Psalms these not only include the triple Alleluia of Easter time, but also antiphons for Christmas Eve (Completi), Christmas Day (Natus est), Epiphany (Lux de luce), Purification (Sancta Dei), Annunciation (Ecce Virgo), and two versions of that for the other Marian feasts (Virgo Maria). The variety of antiphons for the Canticle of Simeon was even greater: Christmas Eve (Ecce completi), Purification (Nunc dimittis), Annunciation (Ecce ancilla), Lent (Evigila), Passiontide (O Rex), and Marian feasts (Corde et animo and Sub tuum).

The special Nunc Dimittis antiphon of Eastertide Alleluia, resurrexit Dominus, alleluia, sicut dixit vobis, alleluia, alleluia in mode 5 is paralleled in melody and structure by others using a scriptural verse and four alleluias: those of Christmas Day (Verbum caro factum), Epiphany (Omnes de Saba), Ascensiontide (Ascendens Christus), Pentecost (Spiritus Paraclitus) and Corpus Christi (Panem quem ego dedero). In 1948, one other antiphon on this model was created: Haurietis for the feast of the Sacred Heart. Here is example of this famous Alleluia chant, that for Easter, again from the Poissy Antiphonal:

During Lent on Saturdays, Sundays, and major feasts, the short response was replaced by the famous responsory, In pace. Every friar (yes, every friar) took a turn, in order of religion, singing that chant's verse, as the others sat and mediated (?). The same discipline applied to the responsory, Media vita, which was used as the "antiphon" for the Nunc Dimittis during the third and fourth weeks of Lent. This respond contains an interesting Latin version of the Trisagion. For those of us who are not great singers, its verse was mercifully simple and short. The In manus tuas of Passiontide, dropped, of course, the Gloria Patri; and was replaced in the Triduum by Christus factus (sung simply to Psalm tone 8b) and by the antiphon Haec dies on Easter Sunday to Tuesday.

Before you begin to think, how could the Dominicans have abandoned all this? You should know that we have not. According to the Proprium Officii Ordinis Praedicatorum (1983), which I mentioned earlier, all the chants I have mentioned have been approved for use with the new Liturgy of the Hours. The only major change is that the Media vita is now restored to its more logical use as a responsory. The proper also approved the use of the Dominican Confiteor for the examination of conscience. I know that English versions of many of these chants are use in the American Dominican Provinces, along with the original Latin versions. And now:

II. The Processions after Compline

Before I describe the ceremonies at the end of Compline in the Dominican Rite and the Liturgy of the Hours according to Dominican use, here is a link to a video of the Salve Procession at San Clemente in Rome, the Irish Dominicans, accompanied, on this occasion, by some visitors who can be recognized as they are not in Dominican habits. You will note how the procession moves from choir to the people's part of the church, has the genuflection at the traditional time, and the sprinkling with Holy Water.

Although Dominican Compline is musically and liturgically well known, perhaps even more famous is the procession by which it is traditionally followed. The institution of the singing of the Salve Regina after Compline, according to Bl. Jordan of Saxony, who witnessed the events, occurred in the Dominican priory of Bologna about 1221. A Brother Bernard had been tormented by doubts and temptations. Jordan, then Master of the Order, decided that the community would invoke the help of the Blessed Virgin through a penitential procession while singing the antiphon Salve Regina after Compline. Bernard was immediately freed of his tribulations and the practice was spontaneously imitated in Lombardy and then throughout the entire Order. The sprinkling of the friars with Holy Water by the prior or hebdomadarian was added at this time or soon after.

The Salve Regina (see Dominican version to the right), sung after Compline, is not original to the Dominicans. The Dominican melody is part of a family of twelfth-century variants on a more ancient melody, of which the solemn Roman-Benedictine, the Carthusian, and others are also examples. The antiphon itself dates to the late eleventh century and was in common use first among Benedictines and Cistercians. The Cistercians already used it as processional chant, before or after chapter meetings, in the 1210s. But its use for a procession to the people's part of the church is distinctively Dominican. Traditionally, in the Dominican Rite, the antiphon for the Virgin after Compline never varies, but is always the Salve Regina, but an alleluia is added to it and ti the verses following it during Easter time.

The ritual of the Salve Procession is as follows. On every day of the year (except Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of Holy Week) two acolytes, wearing surplices and carrying candlesticks with lighted candles, took up their positions before the altar. For the intoning of the Salve, the entire community fell to their knees and remained kneeling until the word "Salve" had been finished; then the friars rose and went in procession behind the two acolytes to the outer church of the laity. There the brethren knelt in place facing the altar or shrine and were sprinkled with holy water by the hebdomadarian. By the late middle ages, the custom was introduced of the community also kneeling at the words: Eia ergo advocata nostra. The antiphon ended, the acolytes sang the versicle: Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata; to which the community responded: Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos. The final prayer Concede nos was the sung by the hebdomadarian.

By the fourteenth century, it become a common practice to sing the antiphon O lumen Ecclesiae, the Magnificat antiphon of the feast of St. Dominic, while returning in procession to the choir. The procession ended with the verses and the collect of St. Dominic. Like the Salve, this antiphon and its verses had alleluias in Easter time. But its use was never absolute. Some provinces and houses substituted the antiphon of another saint for the O Lumen.

Those interested in the way medieval music was put together will find the thirteenth-century antiphon O Lumen to have interesting similarity to another well-known piece of chant:

This kind of borrowing was very common in the middle ages, and in the modern period.

There are two other processions traditionally attached to Compline. The first, and best known, is the interpolation between the Salve and O Lumen of a Procession to the Holy Rosary Altar or shrine, while singing the Litany of Loreto. This procession is early modern in origin. The Litany concluded with the singing of the prosa Inviolata and the collect. In Easter time, the Inviolata was replaced by the Regina Caeli, sung to a Dominican version of the solemn tone. The other procession was on the first Tuesday of the month and also placed between the Salve and O Lumen. This is the Procession to the Altar of St. Dominic, during the singing of the prolix responsory O spem miram, which is taken from Matins of the saint. There two are not the only processions that local priories and provinces added to Compline, but they are the ones most commonly performed, even today.

Again, these chants have been preserved for use with the new Liturgy of the Hours according to the provisions of the Proprium Ordinis Praedicatorum of 1982. The use of the Salve throughout the year may be maintained, as well as, if desired, the procession and the verses and collect. In addition, provision is made also for the substitution of the famous antiphon Sub tuum presidium or, during Easter time, the Regina Caeli. The Litany on Saturday may also be continued, and an alleluia added to the Inviolata during Easter time. Finally, the traditional freedom of choice for ways of commemorating St. Dominic is preserved. There is the option of singing the O spem miram or the Magne pater, another well-known antiphon from the saint's office, in place of the O Lumen. I have seen all of these options taken, using the original Latin or English adaptions.

These musical options are included in the new Compline Book available for consultation or download on our sidebar at Completorii Libellus Novus (2008).

And here is a link to an (admittedly truncated) celebration of the Salve Procession at Blackfriars, Oxford, December, 2007, with thanks to Engish Dominican students.