Briggs and W. Frere, Novello and Company, London, It does not contain any communion setting. Briggs Henry Bremridge Briggs died in or so as the introduction says, and Dr Frere died in , and so at the end of this work is in the public domain, at least in England.

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There is even evidence to suggest that particular Psalm Tones have long been associated with particular Psalms since their use in first-century Jewish liturgy. In theory, then, the same Psalm tone the Western Church typically uses to chant Psalm Tonus Peregrinus , for example, might very well be strikingly similar to the melody Jesus would have used to sing Psalm in the synagogues of His day.

In this first installment on the practice of plainsong Psalm chanting in unison on a single melodic line , we will get familiar with the anatomy of plainsong Psalm Tones and the practical realities of how to read and understand any given Psalm Tone.

It is a comprehensive guide to the historical practice of chanting the Psalms using Sarum Tones the tones originating from the usage of Salisbury, England in the 11th century. Some of these Psalm tone have numerous variants, and some only a few. With so many possibilities, it can seem daunting to even know where to begin. For this reason, if you are new to chanting, the Nashotah House Plainsong Psalter might be a better choice for getting started; its simple virtue is that it exclusively uses the sixteen most approachable variants of the nine Psalm Tones.

The Psalm Tones put forth in Nashotah are the ones I use in the corporate worship of my parish because they tend to be easier for everyone. The Psalm Tone opens with the intonation sometimes called an incipit. This portion is only sung on the first verse of the Psalm, usually by the cantor.

If the same tone is used for a canticle from the Gospels—yes, you can use these to sing the canticles as well! The intonation is followed by a reciting note.

This is the pitch were the bulk of the words are chanted. Another reciting note begins the second half of each Psalm verse, which again handles most of the words. Then as we near the end of the first half of the verse, usually marked by an asterisk, the mediation begins. The mediation is a melodic pattern that closes the first half of the Psalm verse and usually has a certain amount of flexibility built-in to accommodate the number of syllables and where the stressed syllables happen to fall.

In this example, you can see that the first note of the mediation is accompanied by a horizontal line; this indicates that a stressed syllable should, if at all possible, fall on this note. There is also a note in parentheses. This note is only sung when the text contains an extra unstressed syllable after the stress. For poetry nerds, this would be the difference between a trochaic versus a dactylic ending to the half verse.

The termination is another melodic pattern that completes the Psalm verse in a manner similar to that of the mediation. Tone VIII 1 with highlighted intonation, reciting notes, mediation, and termination Psalm Tones are remarkably versatile.

We might typically associate them with singing in Latin, but they work just as well in English. You can see in the following comparison of Psalm that even among different translations of the same Psalm, the same Psalm Tone can be used. Comparison of Psalm in both psalters One other difference worth noting is how the two pslaters indicate when to move in the mediation or termination.

In the Nashotah House Plainsong Psalter, bold text should align with the vertical marks in the music. These do not indicate stressed syllables, but rather when the voice should move off the reciting note. With a little bit of training and practice, both music and non-music readers can chant together using this system.

Unlike modern notation, which uses a five-line staff, medieval music is written on a four-line staff, like this one. Medieval clefs tended to be much more simple and were not ties to any particular pitch. Thus they can be very flexible to an individual or congregation who may not be able to sing beyond a certain vocal range. The line enclosed by the clef sign merely tells you which line is to be regarded as do.

So channel your inner Maria von Trapp and sing down from do to find the first pitch of the chant. Medieval notation contains a variety of unfamiliar square- and diamond-shaped notes called neumes. Unlike modern musical notation, the shape of the note has nothing to do with how long the note should be held.

Rather, the note shapes tell how many notes occur on one syllable of the text. Single neumes indicate one note per syllable. Single hollow neumes for extra syllables. Neumes bound together ligatures are used when multiple notes are sung to a single syllable of text.

Perpendicular ligatures are sung ascending, that is, beginning on the lower note and rising to the upper note. Diagonal ligatures are sung descending. In the following video there is a little cross or dagger interrupting the text of the Gloria Patri. This is called a flex, a decoration of the chant melody that was inserted at certain points where a brief pause was appropriate. For the sake of simplifying this introduction, I observe the pause, but not the decoration typical of the flex. This is what I do for my home parish, but doing so trades in time for customization.

Enoch Jacobus Dr. He serves as the lay cantor of St. Share This!


Chanting the Psalter in Plainsong, pt. 1: How to Read a Psalm Tone



An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church



St. Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter (Hardcover)



The Manual of Plainsong, 1902 edition


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