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Anglican chant, also known as English chant,is a way to sing unmetrical texts, including psalms and canticles from the Bible, by matching the natural speech-rhythm of the words to the notes of a simple harmonized melody. This distinctive type of chant is a significant element of Anglican church music.
Anglican chant was formerly in widespread use in Anglican and Episcopal churches, but today, Anglican chant is sung primarily in Anglican cathedrals and parish churches that have retained a choral liturgical tradition. Additionally, Anglican chant may be sung in Roman Catholic,Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches.
Anglican chant grew out of the plainchant tradition during the English Reformation. When singing a text in Anglican chant, the natural rhythm of the words as they would be spoken by a careful speaker governs how the music is fitted to the words. The majority of the words are freely and rhythmically chanted over the reciting notes, which are found in the first, fourth, eighth, eleventh (etc.) bars of the chant and with the other notes of the music appropriately fitted to the words at the end of each half-verse. Formerly the rhythm of the non-reciting notes was strictly observed, but nowadays the rhythm is based on the natural cadence of speech. Thus, the length of each of these notes bears little relation to the normal musical value of a note such as a minim or semi-breve.
Anglican chant was well established by the 18th century. The earliest known examples are single chants written by John Blow, Henry Purcell, and their contemporaries. Earlier examples by Tudor composers such as Tallis, Farrant, and others are not original. The earliest double chants are from about 1700.
The text is pointed for chanting by assigning each verse or phrase to a simple harmonised melody of 7, 14, 21 or 28 bars (known respectively as a single, double, triple or quadruple chant).
An example of a single chant is shown above. Below are the first four verses of the Magnificat, with the text coloured to show which words correspond to which notes in the music ("the chant").
Another example of the color-pointed text for chant scores is the Vox Barnabas Psalter, a collection of public domain double chant scores by St. Barnabas Chorus, used to sing their Daily Office in Chant podcast of Morning, Noon, Evensong and Compline.
Various psalters have been published over the years, with each one showing how the chant is to be fitted to the words and each having its own variation on the precise rules for doing so. The rules used in the Parish Psalter (one of the more popular psalters, edited by Sydney Nicholson) are as follows:
Other psalters use different notation; modern psalters such as the New St Paul's Cathedral Psalter (John Scott, 1997) have adopted the following convention:
There are various additional rules which apply occasionally:
The example above is a single chant. This is mostly only used for very short psalms (half a dozen verses or so).
The most commonly used chants are double chants. These are twice the length of a single chant. The music of the chant is repeated for every pair of verses. This reflects the structure of the Hebrew poetry of many of the psalms: Each verse is in two halves – the second half answers the first; the verses are in pairs – the second verse answers the first.
Triple and quadruple chants are considerably rarer. They appeared from the latter part of the 19th century to cover some of the exceptions to this format. They set the verses of the psalm in groups of three or four verses respectively. Psalm 2 (for example) is suited to a triple chant; a quadruple chant might be used for Psalm 78.
A double chant is divided into "quarters", each of which has the music for half a verse. Triple and quadruple chants may also be described as containing six or eight quarters.
If the entire text (or a section of it) has an odd number of verses, the second half of the chant is usually repeated at an appropriate point, which may be marked "2nd part". Similarly, "3rd part" markings may be used for triple chants.
An example of a double chant:
Below are the four lines of the doxology Gloria Patri (commonly known as the "Gloria"), with the text coloured to show which words correspond to which notes in the music (pointing varies from choir to choir):
Glory be to the Father, and ' tothe ' Son :
and ' tothe ' Holy ' Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ' ever ' shall be :
world without ' endA ' -- ' men.
The doxology Gloria Patri , usually sung at the end of a psalm or canticle, is two verses long. Depending on the type of chant, it is sung in one of the following ways:
Psalms may be sung unaccompanied or accompanied by an organ or other instrument. Organists use a variety of registrations to mirror the changing mood of the words from verse to verse; but the organ should never be so loud that the words cannot be clearly heard. Organists may sometimes indulge in word painting, using effects such as a deep pedal note on the word "thunder", or a harsh reed tone for "darkness" contrasting with a mixture for "light".
A further stylistic technique is used in cathedrals and churches which use an antiphonal style of singing. In this case, the choir is divided into two equal half-choirs, each having representation for the four musical parts, and usually facing one another. They are typically named Decani (usually the half-choir to the south side) and Cantoris (usually the half-choir to the north side). Then the choir may employ either of the techniques known as quarter-chanting and half-chanting. In quarter-chanting (which is more true to the structure of the Hebrew poetry), the side that starts (usually decani) sing the first quarter of the chant (and thus the first half of the verse). The side that did not start (usually cantoris) then sing the second quarter of the chant (and thus the second half of the verse). This sequence then repeats. In half-chanting (which is more true to antiphonal singing in the Gregorian style), decani sing the first two quarters of the chant, and cantoris the next two quarters (so that each half-choir sings a whole verse at a time).
With antiphonal singing, the first two verses, the Gloria and perhaps the last two verses are often sung by the whole choir.
A few choirs elaborate further, e.g. by having some verses sung by soloists, trebles only, alto/tenor/bass only (with the treble line transferred into one of the other parts) or one part or soloists singing the melody while the rest of the choir hums. Occasionally some or all trebles may sing a descant; this usually happens only in the final verse of the psalm or the Gloria.
The Book of Psalms, also known as the Psalms, or the Psalter, is the first book of the Ketuvim ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh, and a book of the Old Testament. The title is derived from the Greek translation, ψαλμοί, meaning "instrumental music" and, by extension, "the words accompanying the music". The book is an anthology of individual Hebrew religious hymns, with 150 in the Jewish and Western Christian tradition and more in the Eastern Christian churches. Many are linked to the name of David, but modern scholarship rejects his authorship, instead attributing the composition of the psalms to various authors writing between the 9th and 5th centuries BC.
Plainsong or plainchant is a body of chants used in the liturgies of the Western Church. When referring to the term plainsong, it is those sacred pieces that are composed in Latin text. Plainsong was the exclusive form of Christian church music until the ninth century, and the introduction of polyphony.
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song in Latin of the Roman Catholic Church. Gregorian chant developed mainly in western and central Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, with later additions and redactions. Although popular legend credits Pope Gregory I with inventing Gregorian chant, scholars believe that it arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant.
A metrical psalter is a kind of Bible translation: a book containing a verse translation of all or part of the Book of Psalms in vernacular poetry, meant to be sung as hymns in a church. Some metrical psalters include melodies or harmonisations. The composition of metrical psalters was a large enterprise of the Protestant Reformation, especially in its Calvinist manifestation.
The gradual is a chant or hymn in the Mass, the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, and among some other Christians. It gets its name from the Latin gradus because it was once chanted on the step of the ambo or altar. In the Tridentine Mass, it is sung after the reading or chanting of the epistle and before the Alleluia, or, during penitential seasons, before the tract. In the Mass of Paul VI, the gradual is usually replaced with the responsorial psalm. Although the Gradual remains an option in the Mass of Paul VI, its use is extremely rare outside monasteries. The gradual is part of the proper of the Mass.
In chant, a reciting tone can refer to either a repeated musical pitch or to the entire melodic formula for which that pitch is a structural note. In Gregorian chant, the first is also called tenor, dominant or tuba, while the second includes psalm tones as well as simpler formulae for other readings and for prayers.
Orthros or Oútrenya, in the Byzantine Rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches, is the last of the four night offices, the other three being vespers, compline, and midnight office. Traditionally, in monasteries it is held daily so as to end immediately following sunrise, in contrast to parishes where it is held only on Sundays and feast days. It is often called matins after the office it most nearly corresponds to in Western Christian churches.
Exclusive psalmody is the practice of singing only the biblical Psalms in congregational singing as worship. Today it is practised by several Protestant, especially Reformed denominations. Hymns besides the Psalms have been composed by Christians since the earliest days of the church, but psalms were preferred by the early church and used almost exclusively until the end of the fourth century. During the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther and many other reformers, including those associated with the Reformed tradition, used hymns as well as psalms, but John Calvin preferred the Psalms and they were the only music allowed for worship in Geneva. This became the norm for the next 200 years of Reformed worship. Hymnody became acceptable again for the Reformed in the middle of the nineteenth century, though several denominations, notably the Reformed Presbyterians, continue the practice of exclusive psalmody.
The Genevan Psalter, also known as The Huguenot Psalter, is a metrical psalter in French created under the supervision of John Calvin for liturgical use by the Reformed churches of the city of Geneva in the sixteenth century.
Psalm 95 is the 95th psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation". The Book of Psalms starts the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and, as such, is a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and in the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 94. In Latin, it is known as "Venite exultemus". The psalm is a hymn psalm, one of the Royal psalms, praising God as the King of His people. Psalm 95 identifies no author, but Hebrews 4:7 attributes it to David. The Vulgate also names David as the author.
A hymn tune is the melody of a musical composition to which a hymn text is sung. Musically speaking, a hymn is generally understood to have four-part harmony, a fast harmonic rhythm, with or without refrain or chorus.
Psalm 147 is the 147th psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version, "Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises". In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and in the Latin Vulgate/Vulgata Clementina, this psalm is divided into Psalm 146 and Psalm 147. In Latin, Psalm 146 is known as "Laudate Dominum quoniam bonum psalmus", and Psalm 147 as "Lauda Jerusalem Dominum".
Gelineau psalmody is a method of singing the Psalms that was developed in France by Catholic Jesuit priest Joseph Gelineau around 1953, with English translations appearing some ten years later. Its chief distinctives are:
Psalm 93 is the 93rd psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty". The Latin wording is Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est. The Book of Psalms is part of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament. In the slightly different numbering system of the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate versions of the Bible, this psalm is Psalm 92. It is the first of a series of psalms which are called royal psalms as they praise God as King.
Psalm 5 is the fifth psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation". In Latin, it is known as "Verba mea auribus percipe Domine". The psalm is traditionally attributed to David. It is a reflection of how the righteous man prays for deliverance not only for freedom from suffering, but to allow himself to be able to serve God without distraction. The New King James Version entitles it "A Prayer for Guidance".
Psalm 131 is the 131st psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: "Lord, my heart is not haughty". In Latin, it is known as "Domine non est exaltatum cor meum". In the slightly different numbering system used in the Greek Septuagint version of the bible and in the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 130.
Psalm 96 is the 96th psalm of the Book of Psalms, a hymn. The first verse of the psalm calls to praise in singing, in English in the King James Version: "O sing a new song unto the Lord". Similar to Psalm 98 and Psalm 149, the psalm calls to praise God in music and dance, because he has chosen his people and helped them to victory. It is one of the royal psalms praising God as the King of His people.
Evensong is a church service traditionally held near sunset focused on singing psalms and other biblical canticles. In origin, it is identical to the canonical hour of vespers. Old English speakers translated the Latin word vesperas as æfensang, which became 'evensong' in modern English. Typically used in reference to the Anglican daily office's evening liturgy, it can also refer to the pre-Reformation form of vespers or services of evening prayer from other denominations, particularly within the Anglican Use of the Catholic Church.
Psalm 150 is a psalm setting by César Franck. He wrote the composition, setting Psalm 150 for four-part choir, orchestra and organ, in 1883. It was published in 1896 by Breitkopf & Härtel. Carus-Verlag published an arrangement for choir, strings and organ. The incipit in French is "Halleluiah! Louez le Dieu, caché dans ses saints tabernacles".
The Daily Office in Anglican churches focuses the traditional canonical hours on daily services of morning prayer and evening prayer, usually following local editions of the Book of Common Prayer. As in other Christian traditions, either clergy or laity can lead the daily office. Most Anglican clergy are required to pray the two main services daily.