Thursday, July 09, 2020

Organum Arrangements of the Salve Regina by Mark Emerson Donnelly

About two months ago, we shared a Renaissance polyphonic version of the Regina caeli arranged by composer Mark Emerson Donnelly, director of music at Holy Family, the FSSP parish in Vancouver, British Columbia. Now that we are in the last and longest part of the liturgical year, the time after Pentecost, the daily Marian antiphon has switched to the Salve Regina, and we thank Mr Donnelly once again, this time for sharing with us his two arrangements of it.

(Tenor/Bass & full choir, sung by OFFERTORIUM; for a PDF of the score, click here. Performance notes in the description on YouTube.)

From his recent newsletter: “After the Ave Maria, the most famous and well-beloved prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Salve Regina. As with the Ave, the Salve is both recited by Catholics in their native tongues and also sung in Latin to medieval Gregorian melodies. Though beautifully set to some very ornate, solemn and monastic tunes, the Simple Tone of the Salve Regina is, by far, the most popular.

The Salve Regina is the last of the four seasonal Marian antiphons sung over the liturgical year, prescribed for the Time after Pentecost. In that respect, it is kind of the perennial Marian antiphon, as we live in a perpetual time after that first Pentecost.

Although the Simple Tones of the four Marian Antiphons tend to be syllabic (one note per syllable of text), the ‘O dulcis’ at the end of the Salve provides a rare opportunity to employ a bit of polyphony in my Organum Novi Mundi style.

Since the Salve is the longest of the four, I chose to alternate two-part organum with four-part sections. My original thought was to alternate tenor & bass with full choir. However, if some ensembles wish to sing SATB throughout, I have doubled the tenor & bass parts in the soprano & alto. It is also possible to sing alternating SA with SATB, as below.

(Soprano/Alto & full choir, sung by OFFERTORIUM; for a PDF of the score, click here. Performance notes in the description on YouTube.)

On a curious note, it wasn’t until I was writing this newsletter that I realized I wrote the Organum Novi Mundi for two of the Marian antiphons, Ave Regina Coelorum & Regina Caeli, in the same year, 2001, and the remaining two, Salve Regina & Alma Redemptoris Mater, also in the same year, fifteen years later in 2016.”

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