Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Solemn Requiem Mass for the Dead

Our readers have seen still photos of the Solemn High Dominican Rite Mass for the Dead at Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle last All Souls Day. We now have a very well done video with excerpts from the Mass and the chant of the Dies Irae:

If you liked this video and the Dominican Chant in it, check the new publication of the chants for Compline with the Dominican Rite chants approved for the Liturgy of the Hours, available here.

This Mass was celebrated by priests of the Western Dominican Province.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Medieval Salve Regina

After my posting about the availability of downloadable files for the Antiphonarium for the Liturgy of the Hours in Dominican chant, which I decorated with the page for the Salve Regina from the Poissy Antiphonal, a reader reminded me that the text in that manuscript does not match the version of the Salve Regina in use in the Dominican Order or in the Roman Church today. And I thought some comments on this might be of interest to readers since the Salve Regina is perhaps the most beloved chant of the Dominican Order and much loved by all Catholics.

To the right you can see the folio 935v of the Poissy Antiphonal. This manuscript is accessible on line at Latrobe University in Australia. This manuscript belonged to a convent of Dominican nuns in France. It was transcribed in the period 1335-1345 and is a "certified" Dominican Antiphonal. That means that it was not only written by the medieval Dominican method of painting the neumes using an authorized stencil, but that the music was sung through by two friars or sisters using the "new" book against two other friars or sisters using an older "certified" book. This made sure that all medieval Dominican chant books were absolutely identical. No other medieval chant books of any other musical tradition were so perfectly identical. I have reviewed this so that you can all be sure that this is music is exactly as the medieval Dominicans chanted it.

Even a non-paleographer can see that in the first line of the Salve of this manuscript the modern version's word "Mater" is absent. This is the original form of the Salve Regina, as found in all the medieval chant and manuscript traditions. The word "Mater" was only added in the sixteenth century. Those who know the polyphonic music of Orlande de Lassus (ca, 1532-1594) may have sung his setting of the Salve, where this word is missing. You will notice how smoothly the chant moves from "regina" to "misericordiae." The original form, very medieval in piety, was thus: "Hail Queen of Mercy."

At the right, we see the next page of the manuscript, folio 936r. Here you can see another place were the medieval version differs from both the modern Roman and the Dominican versions. The word "Virgo" is absent, and so the last line of the antiphon reads simply: O dulcis Maria. The immediate focus on the Holy Name is also very medieval. The alleluia, which has exactly the same chant as the version sung by modern Dominicans during Easter Time, follows. This addition of "Virgo" to the original chant of the Salve seems to have appeared in the thirteenth century, but, again, the Dominicans, typically traditional about chant and text, did not add it until much later. In fact, this manuscript, where as you can seen in faint addition on the previous page's left margin has "Mater" and the altered music added in a sixteenth-century hand, does not have any suggestion that "Virgo" should be added at this point. A comprehensive study of the manuscripts and early printed editions of the Dominican Salve would have to be done, but I suspect that the medieval version of the Dominican Salve did not receive these textual and musicial changes until the 1600s. Perhaps during the Romanizing reforms of 1604.

A PDF file with this medieval version of the Salve may be downloaded here. I would wonder if Dominican readers think that we should restore, at least for occasional use, the Salve as it was sung from the time of Humbert's standardization of the liturgy in 1254 until the Post-Reformation period, which was also the way that St. Thomas, St. Catherine, and St. Vincent Ferrer, and probably Our Holy Father Dominic actually sang it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dominican Antiphonal Completed

The Antiphonarium pro Liturgia Horarum iuxta Usum Ordinis Praedicatorum, is now complete for the entire liturgical office of the year. The six PDF files of this music are available gratis for download on the left sidebar. Readers are reminded that these are large files (about 9 megabites, over a 1000 printed pages each). So be patient when downloading.

This antiphonal, created for singing the Divine Office in Gregorian chant according to the Dominican musical tradtion, has all the chants needed for Office of Readings (including the Invitatory Psalm), Lauds, the Midday Office (including Terce, Sext, and None), Vespers, and Compline.

The only chants lacking are the Prolix Responsories for the Office of Readings, although references to where to find these in the Dominican chant books are inserted, and these responsories are included for all days of Holy Week and the Triduum. According to Dominican tradition, preserved for use with the new office in the 1982 Proprium approved for the Order, many other Prolix Respsonsories are inlcuded for optional use at Vespers. The Dominican chants for the Lamentations and the prayer of Jeremiah, as well as the Litanic Prayers, are found in the section for Holy Week. Thus, that music of Tenebrae approved for use with the Liturgy of the Hours is complete. Compline may be downloaded in a separate file.

This project began three years ago. The music was transcribed from Dominican (available for download on the left sidebar) and Roman sources, and, in the case of the Dominican music, corrected from the Poissy Antiphonal, a "certified" fourteenth-century manuscipt. The chants have been sung and corrected by the cloistered Dominican Nuns of Marbury Alabama. As they continue to sing through the music, corrections will certainly be made in these files.

The page of the Poissy Antiphonal with the Salve Regina decorates this post.