Tag Archives: Gregorian Chant

2d Sunday after Pentecost – Feast of Corpus Christi (Observed) – 2 Jun 13

Opening Voluntary: 4 Movements from a Partita on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

 At the Offertory: Adagio on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

 Closing Voluntary: Andante Maestoso on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

A chorale partita composed by Belgian organist, Flor Peeters (1903-1986), on the Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is the basis for all of the incidental organ music for this Sunday.  This composition, the first in his Opus 76, comes from one of three separate collections of Chorale Preludes on Gregorian Tunes, each consisting of 10 such works.  The Partita on Adoro Te Devote is from 1955 and was dedicated to his friend, Albert De Klerk, organist in Haarlem, Netherlands. Each of its six sections is an independent variation on the hymn tune.  For the Opening Voluntary we will hear four of the sections, nos. 1-3 and 5.  At the Offertory we will hear the brief, no. 4, and for the Closing Voluntary, no. 6. All prominently feature the hymntune melody which we sing as our first hymn during Benediction today as #314 from The Hymnal, 1982.

Florent Peeters (1903-1986) was born in the village of Telen, east of Antwerp, Belgium in 1903 as the youngest of 11 children, most of whom played musical instruments.  By the age of only 8 years, he deputized for his eldest brother at the local church. He studied formally at the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen and was appointed assistant to his teacher, Oscar Depuydt , at the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen at the age of 20. Peeters later succeeded to his teacher’s position and remained as the principal organist there for 63 years. He taught at several musical institutions and also performed widely as a recitalist, including 10 separate tours through the United States. Peeters wrote widely in many fields, but mostly for the organ, for which he composed over 550 works.

The Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is a Eucharistic hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275).  Honored as one of the 33 Doctors of the Church, St. Thomas is known best for his Summa Theologica, an unfinished but still monumental work written as a compendium of the theology of the Western Church.  Although commonly attributed to St. Thomas, the hymn Adoro Te Devote is not conclusively known to be his work, although he is believed to have composed other Eucharistic hymns for the daily office on a commission from Pope Urban IV following the latter’s institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi in the year 1264.

The Latin Hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is in seven stanzas, although only four are included in the translation published in The Hymnal, 1982.  The sixth stanza is of particular interest, as it contains the metaphorical characterization of Jesus as the “Pie Pelicane” or merciful pelican based on the pious ancient belief that the mother pelican would feed her chicks with blood that she obtained by wounding her own breast, a legendary with obvious eucharistic overtones.

Prostrate I adore Thee, Deity unseen,
Who Thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;
Lo, to Thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed,
Tranced as it beholds Thee, shrined within the cloud.
Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern Thee fail;
Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil.
I believe whate’er the Son of God hath told;
What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.
On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity,
Here is hidden also Thy Humanity:
But in both believing and confessing, Lord,
Ask I what the dying thief of Thee implored.
Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see,
His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee,
Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase,
Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.
O memorial wondrous of the Lord’s own death;
Living Bread, that giveth all Thy creatures breath,
Grant my spirit ever by Thy life may live,
To my taste Thy sweetness never-failing give.
Pelican of mercy, Jesu, Lord and God,
Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
Might from all transgression have the world restored.
Jesu, whom now veiled, I by faith descry,
What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen
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Maundy Thursday – 28 Mar 13

Flor Peeters

Flor Peeters

Opening Voluntary: Praeludium und Hymne in the Phrygian Mode – Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

Offertory: Chorale Prelude on Pange, lingua, gloriosi – Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

Both tonight’s opening voluntary and the offertory are works of composer Florent Peeters (1903-1986). Peeters was born in the village of Telen, east of Antwerp, Belgium in 1903 as the youngest of 11 children, most of whom played musical instruments. By the age of only 8 years, he deputized for his eldest brother at the local church. He studied formally at the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen and was appointed assistant to his teacher, Oscar Depuydt, at the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen at the age of 20. Peeters later succeeded to his teacher’s position and remained as the principal organist there for 63 years.  He taught at several musical institutions and also performed widely as a recitalist, including 10 separate tours through the United States.  Peeters wrote many different types of music, but most was for the organ, for which he composed over 550 works.

The Opening Voluntary, Praeludium und Hymne is from Peeters Opus 90 work of 16 pieces on the “Kirchentonarten” or as we might say, the Gregorian modes. Unlike modern Western music, in which we use relatively few scales (most commonly the major and minor scales), Gregorian music employs 8 different scales, numbered 1-8 and in that order known by the names: Dorian, Hypodorian, Phrygian, Hypophrygian, Lydian, Hypolydian, Mixolydian and Hypomixolydian.  The voluntary this evening is based on the third or Phyrgian mode.  On a modern piano, this scale can be reproduced by playing the ‘white’ notes beginning on “E” and ending at the same note as the octave above.  It is most similar to our modern “natural minor” key and differs from that scale by only one half-step in the second degree. Peeters composed two pieces in this collection for each of the modes, one freely conceived Praeludium and one more rigidly homophonic Hymne.

The organ composition at the offertory is based on the Latin hymn, Pange, lingua, gloriosi found in our Hymnal 1982 as #329 in the English translation, “Now, my tongue, the mystery telling.” The text is attributed to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and was first notably translated into English by Edward Caswall (1814-1878) and later emended by others. Although originally a married Anglican Cleric, Caswall came under the influence of John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and later converted to Roman Catholicism. The hymn, Pange, lingua, has been used traditionally during the procession to the altar of repose on Maundy Thursday as well as on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The final two stanzas, beginning with “Therefore we before him bending” or in Latin, Tantum ergo sacramentum, are known for their use in the Rite of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.


2d Sunday after Pentecost – Feast of Corpus Christi (Observed) – 10 Jun 12

Opening Voluntary: 4 Movements from a Partita on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters (1903-1986)

 At the Communion: Adagio on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

 Closing Voluntary: Andante Maestoso on “Adoro Te Devote” – Flor Peeters

A chorale partita composed by Belgian organist, Flor Peeters (1903-1986), on the Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is the basis for all of the incidental organ music for this Sunday.  This composition, the first in his Opus 76, comes from one of three separate collections of Chorale Preludes on Gregorian Tunes, each consisting of 10 such works.  The Partita on Adoro Te Devote is from 1955 and was dedicated to his friend, Albert De Klerk, organist in Haarlem, Netherlands. Each of its six sections is an independent variation on the hymn tune.  For the Opening Voluntary we will hear four of the sections, nos. 1-3 and 5.  At the Communion we will hear the brief, no. 4, and for the Closing Voluntary, no. 6. All prominently feature the hymntune melody which we sing as our first hymn during Benediction today as #314 from The Hymnal, 1982.

Florent Peeters (1903-1986) was born in the village of Telen, east of Antwerp, Belgium in 1903 as the youngest of 11 children, most of whom played musical instruments.  By the age of only 8 years, he deputized for his eldest brother at the local church. He studied formally at the Lemmens Institute in Mechelen and was appointed assistant to his teacher,Oscar Depuydt , at the St. Rombouts Cathedral in Mechelen at the age of 20. Peeters later succeeded to his teacher’s position and remained as the principal organist there for 63 years. He taught at several musical institutions and also performed widely as a recitalist, including 10 separate tours through the United States. Peeters wrote widely in many fields, but mostly for the organ, for which he composed over 550 works.

The Gregorian hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is a Eucharistic hymn attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1275).  Honored as one of the 33 Doctors of the Church, St. Thomas is known best for his Summa Theologica, an unfinished but still monumental work written as a compendium of the theology of the Western Church.  Although commonly attributed to St. Thomas, the hymn Adoro Te Devote is not conclusively known to be his work, although he is believed to compose other Eucharistic hymns for the daily office on a commission from Pope Urban IV following the latter’s institution of the Feast of Corpus Christi in the year 1264.

The Latin Hymn, Adoro Te Devote, is in seven stanzas, although only four are included in the translation published in The Hymnal, 1982.  The sixth stanza is of particular interest, as it contains the metaphorical characterization of Jesus as the “Pie Pelicane” or merciful pelican based on the pious ancient belief that the mother pelican would feed her chicks with blood that she obtained by wounding her own breast, a legendary with obvious eucharistic overtones.

Prostrate I adore Thee, Deity unseen,
Who Thy glory hidest ‘neath these shadows mean;
Lo, to Thee surrendered, my whole heart is bowed,
Tranced as it beholds Thee, shrined within the cloud.
Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern Thee fail;
Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil.
I believe whate’er the Son of God hath told;
What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.
On the Cross lay hidden but thy Deity,
Here is hidden also Thy Humanity:
But in both believing and confessing, Lord,
Ask I what the dying thief of Thee implored.
Thy dread wounds, like Thomas, though I cannot see,
His be my confession, Lord and God, of Thee,
Make my faith unfeigned ever-more increase,
Give me hope unfading, love that cannot cease.
O memorial wondrous of the Lord’s own death;
Living Bread, that giveth all Thy creatures breath,
Grant my spirit ever by Thy life may live,
To my taste Thy sweetness never-failing give.
Pelican of mercy, Jesu, Lord and God,
Cleanse me, wretched sinner, in Thy Precious Blood:
Blood where one drop for human-kind outpoured
Might from all transgression have the world restored.
Jesu, whom now veiled, I by faith descry,
What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen

For additional listening – Kyrie fons bonitatis

Here is a nice rendition of the Kyrie fons bonitatis, the basis for the German Hymn, Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, which was the subject for the J. S. Bach Chorale prelude heard this past Sunday.

 


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