Thursday, July 04, 2013

A beautiful Salve Regina from the Sarum Processional

Whilst at the Musica Sacra Colloquium in Salt Lake City last month, another member of the faculty, Jeffrey Morse, told me about this lovely and unique Salve Regina, with five tropes, from the Sarum Processional of 1502:

On my return from the USA, Felix Yeung, the Pettman Organ Scholar at the London Oratory, kindly agreed to typeset it. Thanks to his exceptional skill in the use of Gregorio software you can freely download the full Sarum Salve Regina as a PDF with red staves (as shown above) or black staves.

Jeffrey Morse writes:
The melody is recognizable as a variant of the "Solemn" tone versions of the Salve found in the Roman, Monastic, Dominican and Cistercian Chant traditions. The unique aspect of this Sarum Salve Regina is the presence of five tropes, or prayers interspersed between the official Latin text, as well as the Latin text itself- O clemens and O pia are followed by O mitis and O pulchra before O dulcis Virgo Maria. The first trope, which would have been sung by cantors, follows hoc exilium ostende and prays, "O Virgin Mother, eternal gate of glory, be for us a refuge in the presence of the Father and the Son" The second trope follows the O clemens- "O merciful Virgin, O kind Virgin, O sweet Virgin, hear the prayers of all who cry to you" Then, following the O pia, the text of the trope becomes more somber, it is Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, "Pour out prayers to your Son who was crucified, wounded, scourged, pierced with thorns, and made to drink gall for us. After O mitis (O gentle), the fourth trope follows- "Glorious Mother of God, whose Son co-exists with the Father, pray for us all who make remembrance of you" The fifth, and final trope follows O pulchra- "Wipe away the faults of the wretched, make clean the defilement of sinners, grant us, through your prayers, the life of the blessed", and then, finally the last and familiar cry to the Virgin, O dulcis Virgo Maria.

You will notice the absence of the familiar dots and episemas of the Solesmes rhythmic editions of the past. One should therefore be particularly mindful of the bar lines and grouping of notes when singing this Salve Regina. Jeffrey Morse adds: 'A knowledge of Dominican and Cistercian chant interpretation would be particularly helpful in that bar lines and spacings of notes dictate lengthening of notes.'

I am most grateful to Jeffrey Morse, Precentor & Master of the Choristers at St Stephen the First Martyr in Sacramento, California for providing an explanation of the tropes.

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