Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Improperia: Popule Meus for Good Friday

Every year for Good Friday, authentic liturgical choirs face the great decision of whether to sing the Improperia according to its amazing chant version or to vary that tradition with the introduction of polyphony. It is not easy because the chant edition is impossibly beautiful. It seems a tragedy to ever let the opportunity pass and not sing it.

Here it is, and you will see that it doesn't sound like any of the chants throughout the year (though its melody is foreshadowed in this coming Sunday's offertory).

And another edition:

On the other hand, some of the most beautiful polyphony sets the same text. This setting is the most famous one by Victoria.

The Vatican last year used this polyphonic setting:

And here is a more contemporary setting by Polish composer Marian Sawa:

If you are drawn more to the English edition, the best version I've seen is by Fr. Samuel Weber, and it can be found among the chants of his new Gradual, which is being posted week by week in his wonderful archive of chant.

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