But first some good news to do with housekeeping:-
I’ve just added to the Downloads page, How to find what you are looking for – Downloads a pdf of all the blogposts from 2017.
Second – The Advent Antiphons
I commented in my last post ‘The Future and a revision’ that I was not proposing to try to set the Advent canticle in Common Worship Daily Prayer (CWDP), Salus Aeterna to metre unless certain conditions were fulfilled. As yet, none have been. I also commented that there are plenty of good Advent hymns already – which there are – and that Salus Aeterna is not linked to the ‘O Antiphons’.
Since then, though, it has occurred to me that perhaps I could try setting the Antiphons to metre. The well known, excellent and deservedly popular hymn O come, O come Emmanuel is inspired by them, but at a slight remove. The usual version omits two of them and those that it does include are in the wrong order. Furthermore, the hymn is associated with the whole season, whereas each Antiphon belongs to one day, and that day only. Each one is sung only before and after the Magnificat at Evening Prayer on the day to which it belongs.
It was then that it struck me that rather than have a separate metre and tune for the Antiphons, a better option would be to set each of them to the same metre as this collection uses for the Magnificat, so that on those days in the year, its Antiphon would be sung before and after the Magnificat to the same tune as the Evening Canticle..
In the collection, the Magnificat is in Double Common Metre and has two alternative tunes recommended for it, Christmas Carol by Walford Davies and Old Magnificat from Playford and elsewhere.
So here are my metrical versions of the Seven Antiphons one for each date. The conventional matching of Antiphon to date is as below but see the section on the Eighth Antiphon below.
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom):-
1. O Wisdom, voice of the Most High ~ pronouncing from his mouth
To fill the cosmos, end to end, ~ east, west and north and south.
All things in strength and sweetness, you ~ order as you may say.
Come teach us how we each may walk ~ in your most prudent way.
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord):-
2. O Adonai, Lord, you who lead, ~ the House of Israël.
To Moses in the burning bush ~ you showed yourself and well.
You spoke to him and at Sinai ~ you gave to him the law.
Come with your outstretched arm, redeem ~ us now and evermore.
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse):-
3. O Jesse’s Root, a sign that stands ~ for peoples everywhere.
Before you kings will be struck dumb; ~ to you, nations raise prayer.
Throughout the earth this cry goes up, ~ in urgency today,
‘Come, rescue and deliver us; ~ save us; do not delay’.
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David):-
4. O David’s Key, of Israel’s House, ~ its sceptre, finely cut.
What once you open, none can close, ~ nor open what you shut.
Those chained in dungeons and those that ~ in death’s dark shadow dwell,
Come lead them forth from place of fear ~ and from their prison cell.
December 21: O Oriens (O Rising Sun):-
5. O Rising Sun and Morning Star, ~ Dayspring and holy one,
The Splendour of eternal light, ~ of righteousness, the sun.
The breaking dawn of human hope ~ shine in, all gloom dispel.
Come light up those who in the night ~ of death’s dark shadow dwell.
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations):-
6. O King of Nations, their desire, ~ the cap and cornerstone,
You make both one and reconcile ~ all things before your throne.
You shake the world, convulse all that ~ does not accept your sway.
Come save the human species that ~ you fashioned out of clay.
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God):-
7. O Emmanuël, God with us ~ king, giver of the law,
Hope of the peoples, Prince of Peace ~ Saviour, the nations’ draw,
Key, Light, Foundation, Wisdom, Lord, ~ the foretold hour hails near.
Come as our Lord and God, save us, ~ to rise up free from fear.
The originals are all in Latin prose and were sung as plainsong. Each starts by addressing the Lord ‘O ..’ and ascribing to him a Messianic title from scripture. Each ends with a prayer ‘Come ……’ . In the original the component bits are not consistently the same length from one Antiphon to another. To make each fit one verse only in DCM, has required some expansion in some of the Antiphons. So the last, O Emmanuel, which in the Latin is particularly short, includes a brief recapitulation of the others.
The translation issue that has tended to attract the most interest has been how best to render O Oriens into English. As a matter of simple translation, it just means ‘O East’. By comparing it with the term in the LXX version of Zachariah 3 which it could well be echoing, it appears to be expressing more the idea ’O Rising Sun’. There is, though, a tradition of rendering it as ‘O Morning Star’ or ‘O Dayspring’, which itself is just a seventeenth century expression of ‘dawn’.
There are at least two other points where the various translations render the Latin correctly as a matter of formal equivalence but where it is not clear what the original is actually trying to say. The first is in O Clavis David. To what in that Antiphon does ‘the sceptre’ refer? The second is in O Rex Gentium. What does ‘qui facis utraque unum’ ‘you make both one’ mean? Who are both, and who is one? Although one obvious answer is just previously ‘lapisque angularis’, ‘stone and cornerstone’. However, if that is what the original intends, what would that be trying to express? Aren’t they already the same thing? Is it perhaps ‘where there is two of anything, you make them one’, or ‘you unite what is divided’? And why, when it is preceded by the nominative qui, is facis in the second person, not the third? Or is it just that my long forgotten school Latin is missing something obvious?
The Eighth Antiphon
The Antiphons are Western Church only. In Common Worship and in most of the Western World, there are seven of them. However, the English Hymnal has eight. This is because when in the late nineteenth century, liturgical antiquarians started to examine pre-Reformation practice, they discovered that in England the conventional sequences of Antiphons seems to have started on the 16th instead of the 17th December, following the same sequence. That would have ended on the 22nd, but there was then an extra one on the 23rd, O Virgo virginum. That was the form in which they were revived by the English Hymnal in 1906. Common Worship conforms though to the more universal usage of there being seven, starting on the 17th.
Apparently houses of the Premonstratensian Order also include the 8th Antiphon.
Should you wish to include an 8th Antiphon, here is a rendering of it in DCM. It takes the form of a question and answer exchange between the daughters of Jerusalem and Mary the Mother of the Lord. I suspect there is some influence in it from the Protoevangelion of James and traditions relating to Sts Joachim and Anna.
8. O Virgin of virgins how can ~ a thing like this be shown?
Neither before nor after you ~ can such as this be known?
O daughters of Jerusalem ~ why stand in awe of me.
What you now see is nothing but ~ God’s holy mystery.
If one is not too bothered about liturgical antiquarianism, and would still like to include this 8th Antiphon, there is another way of doing so, without disturbing the Common Worship sequence from the 17th to 23rd. This is that unless Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, sometime during that period there will be the Last Sunday of Advent. For the Sundays in Advent, Common Worship follows the pattern, both in the readings and in the Advent candles,
First Sunday – Patriarchs.
Second – Prophets.
Third – John the Baptist.
Fourth – Mary the Mother of the Lord.
One could therefore include the 8th Antiphon as an extra one to go with the Last Sunday of Advent, on whichever date it falls. In the occasional years in which the Last Sunday in Advent falls on Christmas Eve, one can use the Eighth Antiphon on the 24th.
And third – a new tune – Genevan 93rd
As an extra delight for this year’s season of Epiphany, here is a new tune. Its metre is 10 10 10 10. So it has nothing to do with the Antiphons. At the moment, it does not have a psalm or canticle for which it is expressly provided, though it is recommended as a possibile alternative for the Epiphany canticle Arise, Shine out in book 6.
It is by Claude Goudimel (c1517-1572) and in G Mixolydian. The composer was a French Hugenot who was killed in Lyon in the Massacre of St Bartholomew. The timing of the original is better suited to the rhythms of French. It has been altered slightly to fit English more easily. Its modality means that it ends as though it demands to go on to another line. I remain very unsure whether the sevenths in the penultimate bar sound better flattened as here, or sharpened as in at least one source elsewhere. Users might like to try the tune both ways and go with whichever they prefer. Another suggestion would be to consider whether to modulate to a fuller G chord, i. e. the Ionian tonic as a conclusion at the end of the last verse. The version below and here on Soundcloud sticks to the modal version without modulations. This is the tune in hymn format:-