Two new Canticles

Noah's Lake and the Tor in Autumn
Noah’s Lake, Somerset Levels and Glastonbury Tor in Autumn

It is some time since I last posted. Quite a lot of alarming things have been happening in the world at large since then. Despite that, I have now written a few new productions and have chosen possible tunes for them. Each of these will be added to the next edition of Book 6. Meanwhile the melodies have appeared on Soundcloud.

Here are two Canticles. Their words and tunes are below.  There are some more in the pipeline, including two new versions of psalms.

Great and Wonderful

This is Rev 15:3-4, Canticle 71 in CWDP.  It is the Song of Moses which is sung by those who had conquered the beast. CWDP provides it for Thursday evenings and the evenings of the Easter season. These are the words, in 88 88 88.

1. Great and wonderful are your deeds ~ Lord, Almighty, our God, and King.
Maker of all, great is each thing ~ which from your bounteous hand proceeds.
Just, true, righteous are all your ways ~ ruler of nations for all days.

2. Who will not fear? Who will not bow? ~ To glorify, O Lord, your name?
For you only, the one, the same ~ are most holy, and present now.
To you, nations, all here shall come ~ to fall before your face, struck dumb.

3. For your justice has been unveiled, ~ here your kingdom made manifest.
Let peoples share your welcome blest ~ to praise the one enthroned and hailed.
Let blessings, honour, glory, might ~ be paid to you O Lamb, by right.

I have written it to be sung to the tune Sicilian Mariners. There was a time when this tune, with its majestic, flowing melody, was almost as well known as O come all ye faithful.  In Britain it has been almost forgotten. It takes its title from being the  hymn that Sicilian sailors on shipboard used to sing to the Blessed Virgin as the sun was setting.

The original Sicilian hymn is known as O Sanctissima.   Because, when it was known, it had often been used to accompany a hymn Lord dismiss us with thy blessing, in English it has often been assumed that it has to fit  However, it is a flexible tune and there are settings that fit different metres. The most widely found setting is probably that in Tattersall’s Psalmody of 1794.  The one below, though, comes from a C19 Catholic source and was notated to fit a rendering into Latin of the original Sicilian version which is in irregular metre. It has been added to Soundcloud, with a percussion accompaniment.


Sicilian Mariners

Herald of Zion

This canticle is Isaiah 40:9-11, Canticle 30. In CWDP it is called A Song of God’s Herald. It is suitable inter alia for Advent.

These are the words,

1. Climb, Herald, the high mountain. Climb! ~ Tell Ziön the good news.
To Jerusalem shout aloud; ~ speak out. Do not refuse.
Go. Raise your voice; proclaim this truth, ~ this message. Do not fear.
To Judah’s cities speak these words ~ “Look. See. Your God is here.

2. “In power he comes, the LORD our God; ~ his arm rules in this place.
His wages and his recompense ~ march out before his face.
As shepherd he shall gather in ~ his flock, to fold and feed,
His lambs, he’ll carry on his breast, ~ his ewes to water lead.”

The tune suggested is this attractive and generally useful melody in Double Common Metre, St Asaph. Here, it is in G Major. It is by a composer and celebrated violinist who has been normally been known hitherto as Giovanni Giornovichi.  In some circles he recently seems to have been renamed Ivan Jarnović.  He lived from 1745/7-1804.

The reason for there being two versions of his name is that It turns out that, despite his traditional name, he was not genetically Italian.  He may, though this is uncertain, have been a Ragusan, from Ragusa, the old name for what is now Dubrovnik.  In his time it was a small  Christian republic ambiguously either independent or a vassal of the Ottoman Sultan. There is even some ambiguity as to what language the Ragusans spoke. Some say Italian, some an extinct language known as Dalmatian and others a dialect of Serbo-Croat. Dalmatian was a Latinate language that seems if anything, to have been closer to Romanian than Italian. Since his death, Ragusa has changed hands several times. In 1808 Napoleon incorporated it first into his kingdom of Italy, and then his Illyrian Provinces. In 1815, it was allocated to the Hapsburgs.  They held it until the unfortunate collapse of their empire in 1918. Then it went to what became Yugoslavia.  In the 2nd World War it was temporarily part of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia.  Since the break up of Yugoslavia, which for Ragusa/Dubrovnik was an extremely violent experience, it has been in Croatia. As a result, Giovanni Giornovichi has been adopted as a Croat composer, and renamed. Whether he would ever have identified himself as Croatian, or whether that was even a concept that would have meant anything to him, nobody can now know.

He did, however, start his career in the Kingdom of Naples, probably in Palermo in Sicily.  He became an internationally celebrated violinist and a cosmopolitan in an era which preceded nationalism as we now experience it, a citizen of the world of the sort deprecated by Mrs May. He was in London, Edinburgh, Bath and Dublin from 1790-96.  This tune probably dates from that sojourn. Different versions exhibit very minor differences, particularly in the two middle parts.  This one comes from the Scottish Psalter of 1929.

St Asaph – or Giornovichi



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