The Hamilton Schola Cantorum performed a concert of Music from the Sarum Rite on November 12, 2013, at McMaster University.
Invitatory: Preoccupemus; Venite [7:08]
Officium: Dominus dixit [2:16]
Magnificat; Ant. Hodie Christus natus est [4:02]
Responsory Sancte Dei; Prose Te mundi climata [5:28]
Responsory: Gaude gaude gaude [2:48]
Miserere with fauxbourdons; Ant. O mors ero [5:17]
Kyrie with trope [3:20]
Graduale: Hec dies [3:31]
Sanctus, Mode V [1:23]
Agnus Dei, Mode IV [1:20]
Responsory: Libera me [2:31]
Ant. Salve regina with tropes [5:52]
Hymn: Lucis creator optime [2:50]
Nunc dimittis, Ant. Salva nos [2:18]
The music of today’s performance is taken from the Liturgy of the Church of Sarum (Salisbury), England, as sung from the 11th through the 16th centuries. It is a sampling of the approximately 10,000 pieces that comprise the Sarum repertoire, one of the most prominent rites in the western church, and a relative of the Roman and Dominican rites. The Sarum liturgical program included seven sung services plus mass every day, about eight hours of sung-worship each day. Sarum chant was originally sung entirely in Latin; in today’s performance some of the chant is sung in English translation. Although chant is normally sung purely in unison, today’s performance includes some examples of simple polyphony: drone, organum, and fauxbourdon. The music that you will hear appears in Dr. Renwick’s on-line edition The Sarum Rite (sarum-chant.ca).
The Invitatory is the first chant to be sung in the morning, beginning the office of Matins about an hour and a half before sunrise. The antiphon is sung by the full choir while the verses of Psalm 94 are sung by a soloist. This psalm thus sets the tone of praise for the day.
The Officium or Introit is the music that begins the Mass. Dominus dixit is the Officium for Midnight Mass of Christmas. The text is taken from Psalm 109.
The Magnificat is sung every day near the end of the Vespers. The antiphon Hodie Christus natus est is used for Vespers (Evensong) on Christmas day. It also appears in Benjamin Britten’s familiar Ceremony of Carols.
At the conclusion of Vespers on Christmas day there is a procession to the altar of Saint Stephen, whose feast is on the following day. During the procession the Responsory Sancte Dei is sung, together with the Prose, Te mundi climata. As the choir returns to the chancel, a responsory is be sung in honour of Saint Mary, patroness of the Church. Gaude gaude gaude, the responsory that appears at Candlemas, the very end of the Christmas season, is remarkable for the bell-like opening.
On Matins of Good Friday is sung the antiphon O mors ero mors tua, and Psalm 50. In this performance the choir will sing some verses in the simple polyphonic style known as “fauxbourdon”. At the end of Matins on Good Friday is sung a beautiful troped Kyrie, Domine miserere.
The Mass of Easter includes the highly ornate Gradual, Hec Dies, which is sung at the Gospel procession.
The Sanctus is sung near the beginning of the prayer of consecration. This particular Sanctus is an excellent example of the Lydian mode. The Agnus Dei is sung at the end of the prayer of consecration. This chant, in the Phrygian mode, is gentle and tender.
The responsory Libera me appears at the end of Matins in the Office of the Dead. It is the same text that Gabriel Fauré uses in his Requiem. You may notice at the beginning of the verse a quotation from the famous melody of the Dies irae, dies illa—but here the text is Dies illa, dies irae.
Salve regina was the most popular religious song of the middle ages. In this Sarum setting the antiphon is interspersed with rhymed and metered tropes which are like verses of a hymn.
Each of the services of the day has one hymn. Lucis creator optime, the hymn appointed for Sundays before Lent, takes its theme from the first day of creation: “Let there be light.” The text is attributed to Pope Gregory I, after whom “Gregorian chant” is named.
The Canticle Nunc dimittis comes near the conclusion of compline, the last service of the day. The Antiphon, Salva nos, is a prayer for protection through the night . . . until the day begins again with the Invitatory.
Hamilton Schola Cantorum, William Renwick, director.
Jeni Darling, Robin Ehlert, Mary Ellen Forsyth
Peter Goodrich, Paul Grimwood, Lara Housez
Peggy Janson, John Laing, Jonathan Marler
Susan McKay, William Oates, Islay-May Renwick
Invitatory Antiphon: Preoccupemus, Tone VII.i, with Psalm 94.
Officium: Dominus dixit, Mode II.
Magnificat, Tone I.iv. with Antiphon: Hodie Christus natus est.
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.
Glory Be to the Father : and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.
This day Christ was born, this day hath a Saviour appeared : this day on earth Angels are singing, Archangels rejoicing : this day the righteous exult and say : Glory to God in the highest, alleluya.
Responsory: Sancte Dei, with Prose: Te mundi climata. Mode I.
Responsory: Gaude, gaude, gaude, Mode VI.
Joy with great rejoicing, O Virgin Mary : thou alone hast destroyed all heresies, who believedst that which was spoken of Gabriel, the Archangel. †As a Virgin thou broughtest forth God and man. ‡And after childing, thou remainedst a spotless Virgin. Verse. We know the Archangel Gabriel brought thee a message from heaven : we believe that thou wast found with child of the Holy Ghost. †As a Virgin, etc. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. ‡And after childing, etc.
Psalm 50, Tone IV.i. with Antiphon: O mors ero mors tua.
Kyrie eleyson with Trope: Domine miserere, Mode IV.
Gradual: Hec Dies, Mode II.
This is the day which the Lord hath made : we will rejoice and be glad in it. Verse. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious : because his mercy endureth for ever.
Sanctus , Tone V.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Agnus Dei, Mode III.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us thy peace.
Responsory, Libera me Domine, Mode II.
Deliver me, O Lord, from death eternal on that fearful day, when the heavens and the earth shall be moved. †When thou shalt come to judge the world by fire.
Verse. That day, day of wrath, calamity, and misery, day of great and exceeding bitterness. †When thou shalt, etc.
Antiphon: Salve regina, with Trope: Virgo mater, Mode I.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve ; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us ; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Verse. Virgin Mother of the Church, gate of eternal glory, be for us a refuge before the Father and the Son.
Verse. Merciful Virgin, loving Virgin, sweet Virgin Mary, hear the cries of all calling devoutly unto thee.
Verse. Pour out prayers to thy Son, crucified, wounded, and scourged for us, pricked with spines, bearing gall.
Verse. O glorious Mother of God, in whose Son the Father appeareth, pray for us all who make a commemoration of thee.
Verse. Blot out the faults of the wretched, cleanse the filth of sins, grant to us by thy prayers the life of blessedness.
O sweet Virgin Mary.
Hymn: Lucis creator optime, Mode VIII.
Canticle: Nunc dimittis, with Antiphon: Salva nos, Tone III.iv.