Friday, November 24, 2006

Chants of the Sarum breviary

An interesting initiative I just discovered comes from the Gregorian Institute of Canada (it looks to have been an Anglican initiative, at least in origin) wherein they are working to make available, in PDF format, the chants of the Sarum use breviary.

The introduction further explains this initiative.

I can't comment upon the technical and historical aspects of this initiative. Though perhaps others may have an insight.

Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about the Breviarium ad usum Sarum itself:

The Sarum Breviary, like the Sarum Missal, is essentially Roman. The Psalter is distributed through the seven Canonical Hours for weekly recitation exactly as with us, though naturally the psalms (XXI-XXV) left over from the Sunday Matins and assigned by Pius V for the Prime of different ferias are, as in the Dominican and Carmelite Breviaries, marked to be recited together on Sundays in their old place at the beginning of that Canonical Hour. Nor in the Sarum Matins do there occur the short prayers termed Absolutions. On the other hand, a ninth Responsory always preceded the Te Deum which was followed by the so-called "Versus Sacerdotalis," that is to say, a versicle intoned by the officiating priest and not by a cantor. At least on festival days, a Responsory was sung between the Little Chapter and Hymn of Vespers. When there were Commemorations or Memories as they are called in the Sarum, Dominican and allied Uses, the "Benedicamus Domino" of Vespers and Lauds was twice sung; once after the first Collect, and once after the last of the Commemorations. Compline began with the verse "Converte nos Deus," the hymn followed instead of preceding the Little Chapter, and the Confiteor, as at Prime, was said among the Preces. The Compline Antiphons, hymn, etc., varied with the ecclesiastical seasons; but the introduction of a final Antiphon and Prayer of Our Blessed Lady closing the Divine Office (Divine Service, it was called at Sarum) is posterior to Sarum times. The Antiphons of the Sarum Offices differ considerably from those in the actual Roman Breviary, but both from the literary and from the devotional point of view the latter are in most instances preferable to those they have superseded. The proper psalms for the various Commons of Saints and for feast days are nearly always the same as now; but for the First Vespers of the greater solemnities the five psalms beginning with the word "Laudate" were appointed as in the Dominican Breviary. The order of the reading of Holy Scripture at Matins is practically identical with that of the Breviary of Pius V, though in the Middle Ages the First Nocturn was not as now reserved for these Lections only. An interesting feature of the Sarum Breviary is its inclusion of Scripture Lections for the ferias of Lent. The Lections taken from the writings of the Fathers and from the Legends of the Saints were often disproportionately long and obviously needed the drastic revision they received after the Council of Trent. The Sarum hymns are in the main those of the Roman Breviary as sung before their revision under Urban VIII and comprise by consequence the famous "Veni Redemptor" of Christmas Vespers and the "O quam glorifica" of the Assumption with one or two others in like manner now obsolete.

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