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A couple of recordings for Matins of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary

At the request of a reader, here are five recordings of different segments of Matins from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgina Mary. The edition which I am singing from is my work-in-progress book, of which the working title is Officium Parvum Beatae Mariae Virginis Appendicesque Diverses. (By the way, leave me a note in the comments if you are interested in the project and would like me to e-mail you my current draft version for your personal use and non-distribution. I’ve been tinkering with this for years, and have never been ready to post it, because it will always be subject to change until I am at last finished.)

A note on sources: The common melodies follow the Vatican Edition Antiphonale Romanum (1912), of which the latest edition with Solesmes rhythmic markings is from 1949, with the most recent additions dating as late as 1960. The chants particular to Matins are taken from Le Petit Office de la Tres Sainte Vierge (1893). In my edition, I have added rhythmic signs to these. The mediant and flex used in the psalms are according to the Antiphonale. For psalms not found in the Antiphonale, I was able to consult an Officium Majoris Hebdomadae (1949) published by H. Dessain, Mechlin, which follows a Vatican typical edition from the 20’s that I’ve never seen. The readings are pointed by myself.

[Side note: some day when I really have nothing better to do, I want to go through the above-mentioned Holy Week book, and see if between this and the other Vatican Edition books all 150 psalms are covered. If so, that would be a remarkable bit of information that should be more widely trumpeted.]


I take the festal tone for the Deus in adjutorium, but on a feria you would take the simple tone instead. For the Wednesday/Saturday psalms I take the antiphon Post partum Virgo inviolata permansisti, which would not be sung in Advent. For the readings, I take the ordinary tone, which can always be used. In place of the 3rd responsory, I take the Te Deum, which in the Little Office is sung on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary occurring at any time of the year, and in addition on all the days outside of Advent and the time from Septuagesima to Holy Saturday inclusively. There is no indication as to when the solemn or simple tones for this should be used, so I took the solemn tone.

* * *

Recording 1 — The beginning of Matins to the end of the Hymn:


Recording 2 — The Psalms sung on Sunday/Monday/Thursday:


Recording 3 — The Psalms sung on Tuesday/Friday


Recording 4 — The Psalms sung on Wednesday/Saturday


Recording 5 — The Verse, Our Father, Absolution, Blessings, Readings, Responsories, and Te Deum:


P.S. — If anyone wants further recordings later in the year, I guess just give a shout out and I will see what I can do. 

7 new printouts posted

I have just added the following printouts to my main page on Ruthenian Byzantine chant HERE.

Note: When I decided to get my head around the simple/minor tone for “O only-begotten Son”, I found myself confronted with several recordings that all had their strong points. Rather than try to include many variants in one printout, I instead found it easier to make several different printouts, just as a way of laying everything out for comparison. The recordings which I used for each transcription are linked below.

Slavonic only:

Jedinorodnyj Syne #3 – O only-begotten Son – pdf

Jedinorodnyj Syne #3 – O only-begotten Son – (transcription/1966) – pdfsoundcloud

Jedinorodnyj Syne #3 – O only-begotten Son – (transcription/2016) – pdfvideo

Jedinorodnyj Syne #3 – O only-begotten Son – (transcription/2017) – pdfvideo

Jelicy vo Christa – All you who have been baptized – (transcription) – pdf

Plotiju – You, O King and Lord – for Resurrection Matins – pdf

Ašče i vo hrob – Although you descended – Easter Kontakion – pdf


As always, see list HERE.

Today is the “Bissextile” day

“The year hath twelve months, comprising fifty-two weeks, and one day : indeed, it has three hundred and sixty-five days, and nearly six hours ; for in such an interval of time the sun traverses the zodiac. However, in the course of four years, four times six hours constitutes an extra day ; hence that year is called intercalary, bissextus, or bissextile.”

De anno et ejus partibus (my working translation)

Well folks, this is such a year, and today is the day, liturgically speaking.

Here’s why.

“In a bissextile year, the month of February is 29 days long, and the feast of St. Matthias [note: usually on the 24th] is celebrated on the 25th day of February, and the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows [note: usually on the 27th] on the 28th day of February, and the Sixth Kalends are said twice, that is, on the 24th day and on the 25th day ; and the dominical letter, which was taken up in the month of January, is changed into the preceding one : as for example, if in January the dominical letter was A, it is changed into the preceding one, which is g, etc., and the letter f serves twice, on the 24th and on the 25th.”

Calendarium romanum (my working translation)

Eh, what?

In the Roman method of reckoning, days are counted backwards from certain set points in each month: the Kalends, the Nones, and the Ides.

Since the Kalends are always the first day of the month, the first day of March is called “the Kalends of March”;

The last day of February is called “the day before the Kalends of March”;

The second last day of February is called “the Third Kalends of March”;

The third last day of February is called “the Fourth Kalends of March”;

And so on.

(By the way, this numbering system is an example of what is called “inclusive counting”.)

Now, counting backwards like this, the “Sixth Kalends of March” is February 24th in most years, but in leap-year when you add an extra day to the end of the month, the Sixth Kalends suddenly becomes February 25th.

Since we are talking about the Roman calendar, it should not surprise us to find that the feast of St. Matthias is affixed to the Roman-style date, the Sixth Kalends, and not to February 24th.

This goes for the other (later) feast that occurs near the end of the month, St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, as well.

So where’s the leap-day?

As it happens, when an extra day was to be inserted into the Roman calendar, their method of doing this was to have two days which were both “the Sixth Kalends of March”; these correspond to our February 24th and 25th.

Since the feast of St. Matthias is to be celebrated on the 25th, we may therefore deduce that the intercalary (that is, “inserted”) day, the bissextile (that is, “twice-sixth”) day, is in fact February 24th.

In fact, in an English version of the Roman Martyrology which I have, the direction in this regard is:

But in Leap Year on February 24 is read only:

The commemoration of many holy martyrs and confessors and holy virgins. R. Thanks be to God.

So, there you have it.

Happy Bissextile day!
Note: this post is re-posted from February 24th, 2016.

8 new printouts posted

I have just added the following printouts to my main page on Ruthenian Byzantine chant HERE.

Since the last post, I got side-tracked, and have not gotten any more ‘Western’ Christmas carols done. That project may not get any more attention until next time around, because it is getting late for this year. Instead, I have been working to get my head around more of the Slavonic liturgy, bit by bit.

There are a number of problems involved: Some items are commonly sung, but I cannot find them notated, hence the need to do a transcription. Transcriptions can be easy enough, when they only involve writing down one particular version from a recording. Working from a book on the other hand, the problem is that people in real life may sing something quite different from what is on the page. So there is a need to respect the content of the book, but also provide enough supplementary information to allow the printout to work with some of the variants which may be customary. A final category is pieces for which only the first verse is notated in the books, and the other verses must be realized by applying the given melodic formula to the rest of the text. This may take some thought, in order to come up with my best attempt after weighing the different possibilities that occur to me.

All in all, I’ve been having a fun time working on re-inventing the wheel. 

Slavonic only:

Blahoslovi – First and Second Typical Psalms – pdf

Jedinorodnyj Syne – O only-begotten Son – (transcription) – pdf

Prijidite poklonimsja – Come, let us worship – pdf

Hlas Osmyj – Troparion and Kontakion, Tone 8 – pdf

V’iruju – Creed – pdf

Svjat – Holy, holy, holy – pdf

Tebe pojem – We praise you – pdf

Chvalite Hospoda – Praise the Lord from the heavens – (transcription) – pdfvideo 


As always, see list HERE.

25 new printouts posted

I have just added the following printouts to my main page on Ruthenian Byzantine chant HERE.

Since the beginning of October, we have been having vespers every Saturday evening at the parish. This is part of what prompted me to get the Our Father’s and Psalm 140’s finished in the samohlasen tones. I am hopeful that these are settled down now, as I have been mulling them over for a while now.

The “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is the first in what will hopefully be a handful of four-part Christmas carol printouts. My intention is for these to be compatible with the MCI’s booklet for Great Compline for the feast of the Nativity, while presenting the full standard text and Western harmonization.

Slavonic only:

Dostojno jest – It is truly proper – (transcription) – pdf

English only:

First and Second Typical Psalms – simple form – pdf

First and Second Typical Psalms – solemn form – pdf

It is truly proper – pdf

Tone 1 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 2 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 3 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 4 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 5 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 6 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 7 – Our Father – pdf

Tone 8 – Our Father – pdf

Our Father – Tone 4 Podoben, Udivisja Josif (adapt.) – pdf

Our Father – recitando – pdf

Tone 1 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf 

Tone 2 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 3 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 4 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 5 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 6 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 7 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Tone 8 – Psalm 140 – O Lord, I have cried to you, hear me – pdf

Beneath your compassion – A – pdf

Beneath your compassion – B – pdf

O Little Town of Bethlehem – Christmas carol – pdf


As always, see list HERE.

10 new printouts posted

I have just added the following printouts to my main page on Ruthenian Byzantine chant HERE. I’ve had these on hand since the beginning of the summer, and thought I’d better post them since I just got back from the Uniontown pilgrimage.

Slavonic only:

Otče naš – Our Father – Rimsky Korsakov – pdf


Djivo Mati zastupaj nas – Virgin Mother, Intercessor – Marian hymn for October 1st – pdf

English only:

Polyeleos – at Matins – pdf

Bless the Lord, O my soul – abridged version “with melody” – at Vespers – pdf

December 8th – The Maternity of the Holy Anna – Troparion and Kontakion – pdf

December 8th – The Maternity of the Holy Anna – Magnification and Irmos – pdf

We extol you, O life-giving Christ – from the Emmanuel moleben – pdf

Bethlehem make ready – from the Emmanuel moleben – pdf

Be exalted – Prokeimenon of the Ascension – pdf

July 25th – The Dormition of the Holy Anna – Troparion and Kontakion – pdf


As always, see list HERE.

List of Ruthenian Byzantine chant books available online

The Metropolitan Cantor Institute (MCI) is the musical website of the Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh and the most useful online resource for all things concerning Ruthenian Byzantine chant [more properly: Prostopinije, Carpathian chant, or simply “plain chant”]. For the sake of convenience, the following is a list of links to some of the chant books and publications which can be found on the MCI and elsewhere.

NOTE: for works not in the public domain, refer to the MCI for determining fair use.


From the Metropolitan Cantor Institute:
Cerkovnoje Prostopinije (1906) – English indexViewPdf

Basic Chant, first edition / Andrew Sokol (1955) – ViewPdf

Duchovňi Pisňi / Stefan Papp (1969) – View

Irmologion / Stefan Papp (1970) – ViewPdf

Byzantine Liturgical Chant (1970) – View

Plain Chant, second edition / Andrew Sokol (1982) – ViewPdf

The Divine Liturgies of our Holy Fathers John Chrysostom and Basil the Great (2006) – Pdf

The Cantor’s Companion (2006) – Pdf

Byzantine Catholic Hymnal (2007) – Pdf

From elsewhere:
The Book of Psalms of King David (1921) – View

The Guardian Angel / Children’s Prayer Book for Greek Catholics of the Old Slavonic Rite (1922) – View

Announcement: Lauds blog project

Hear ye, hear ye! — I have gotten started a new blog:

Dominus regnavit « Daily recordings of the Divine Office »

Daily postings of mp3’s for Lauds will begin on November 27th, the First Sunday of Advent, 2016.

Check it out; and perhaps also consider contributing: help will be needed to keep this project going.

Concerning the “flex” in psalmody

I have been aware for some time that there are sometimes differences in the way that psalm verses are divided, as far as the placement of the flex † and the middle cadence * are concerned.

[Both from edition to edition, especially when comparing secular to monastic and different orders, but sometimes also within the same book, as in the case of the variously compiled Liber Usualis.]

However, I recently came across some useful information in the book Psalmi in notis (Solesmes, 1903).

This book is of that particular genre of chant book the aim of which is to clarify for the user the method of singing certain psalms by laying them out in a more-than-usually idiot-proof manner.

In the case of this book, being published in the year 1903, it is interesting to see from examination of its contents that at this time just prior to the Vatican Edition, Solesmes was already thinking in terms of basically the same system of accents & preparatory notes as would later appear in the Liber Usualis.

Be that as it may, the interesting point for me was that in its title, the book in question claims to give the psalms “juxta ritum Romanum simul ac Monasticum”, or in the vulgar “according to both the Roman and the Monastic rite”. And to effect this double usefulness, there is an explanation on pages 152-153, entitled “De flexa in ritu monastico”.

A summary is as follows:


I. With the monks of certain orders, by the flex † it is noted that the voice should be lowered by either a major second or a minor third. Also of note, this flex is not to be found, except in the first half of a verse.

II. In the monastic rite, however, there are a certain number of psalm-verses which are not divided in the same manner as in the Roman. This book divides these the Roman way. [I think this is what the sentence is getting at; at any rate, it is true.] But if you want to divide them monastically, below are given all the verses in which there is a discrepancy, (and they are few enough) divided in this manner.

III. Note about all of these verses. — In either rite, to wit, Roman or monastic, these verses consist of three members. But in the Roman, after the first member there is placed the middle cadence, and after the second a pause ; however, in the monastic after the first member there is placed a flex (similar to the pause), and after the second the middle cadence ; which is the reverse order.


Now, I looked up the nine cases given (taken from seven psalms) in the Vatican Edition Antiphonale Romanum (1912), and lo! all appeared according to the monastic way: for the Vatican Edition uses the flex. This same division may also be seen, incidentally, in the Liber Antiphonarius (Pothier, 1891).

However, if you look up these same verses in a Roman Breviary, even from, say, 1942, these verses are all still divided “in the Roman manner”, with the longer second half, and no flexes.

Go figure.

Anyhow, I always knew that, as a rule, breviaries had no flexes;

This is the first that I have heard an explanation why.

How to: Francois Couperin’s Messe pour les Paroisses

The composer François Couperin (1668-1733) seems to have published only one book of organ music, this consisting of two Masses of 21 movements each, one “for the Parishes” and one “for the Convents”, the year being 1690.

Anyhow, I recently picked up the an edition of these, in two green paperbacks published by Kalmus, from the free shelf at a college library. Be that as it may, there are several public domain editions available at IMSLP. Mine happens to resemble this one, in that it frequently leaves the pedals on the second staff (which I like, in this case); or if you like your pedals on their own line, you might check out the newly typeset edition by Pierre Gouin [I mention this because I generally find his editions to be consistently well done].  Thus far for scores.

Anyhow, having obtained a hard copy, I found upon playing some of it that the “Mass for the Parishes” looked to be good postluding material, and decided to proceed accordingly. Interestingly, this is said to be the more elaborate of Couperin’s two Masses; however, the main reason I was attracted to it was that it is easily seen to be based upon the melodies of what nowadays we would refer to as Mass IV: Cunctipotens Genitor Deus (of which a convenient printout may be had here, though I printed mine out from the authentic Vatican Edition Graduale 1908 just for the fun of it, and then added the rhythmic signs on over top of it, afterwards.)

Now, I have mentioned that these Masses by Couperin have 21 movements: what of that?

Historically, in this period of time, the organ was played in alternation with the singing of the chant, in such fashion that it was actually considered to be, well, singing the alternate verses. [To hear an example of this practice, check out this Te Deum, which seems to make the rounds of the internet every now and then.] For example, if you were going to sing a hymn, the organ would play verse 1, the choir would sing verse 2, and so forth. Note also that the organ, at least as far I as have seen, generally takes the first verse: and the way you can tell is that when there is a hymn with, say, 7 verses, the composer will write 4 versets.

So, with these two organ Masses, the arrangement of versets (happily the same for both) is as follows:

Kyrie: 5 versets

Gloria: 9 versets


Sanctus: 2 versets

Benedictus or Elevation

Agnus Dei: 2 versets

Deo gratias

For the Kyrie, Gloria, and Agnus Dei, the divisions we use nowadays (marked with a double bar) are right in sync with these versets. The Offertory is then stand-alone piece, and the Deo Gratias is the organ’s response to the priest’s “Ite missa est.” The interesting question, however, is what to do with the Sanctus, which our modern chant editions is not marked to be sung in alternation.

A little pottering about turned up a couple of recordings with differing solutions, as well as some editions with either too many or too few double bars. Finally, I hit upon the Ratisbon Graduale, published in 1871, which gave an agreeable number of divisions, thus:

1871 Ratisbon Graduale - Sanctus from Mass IV

[And whether you separate the Benedictus makes no difference here.]

Now, the reason that I wanted to work out these alternations is that for the most authentic effect these pieces ought to be performed in alternation with the appropriate chants: and what I do in such cases is that I play the appropriate chant verses in their proper places on a the soft 8′ flute stop that I customarily use for accompanying chant during Mass.

In the end, the way things came to pass, I ended up playing the whole of the “Mass for the Parishes” over the course of seven postludes, in the following manner:


Postlude 1: Kyrie (all 5 versets)

Kyrie – organ

Kyrie – chant

Kyrie – organ

Christe – chant

Christe – organ

Christe – chant

Kyrie – organ

Kyrie – chant

Kyrie – organ

Postlude 2: Gloria (first 3 versets)

Gloria – chant

Et in terra – organ

Laudamus te – chant

Benedicimus te – organ

Adoramus te – chant

Glorificamus te – organ

Gratias agimus tibi – chant

Postlude 3: Gloria (second 3 versets)

Domine Deus, Rex coelestis – organ

Domine Fili – chant

Domine Deus, Agnus Dei – organ

Qui tollis… miserere – chant

Qui tollis… suscipe – organ

Qui sedes – chant

Postlude 4: Gloria (third 3 versets)

Quoniam tu solus sanctus – organ

Tu solus Dominus – chant

Tu solus Altissimus – organ

Cum Sancto Spiritu – chant

Amen – organ

Postlude 5: Offertory

(This one just goes by itself)

Postlude 6: Sanctus & Benedictus (3 versets total)

1st Sanctus – organ

2nd Sanctus – chant

3rd Sanctus – organ

Pleni sunt coeli – chant

Benedictus – organ

Postlude 7: Agnus Dei & Deo Gratias (3 versets total)

1st Agnus Dei – organ

2nd Agnus Dei – chant

3rd Agnus Dei – organ

Ite missa est – chant

Deo gratias – organ


And that’s how it went. By the way, all of these combinations ran to a quite satisfactory length of time, while at the same time none of them seemed to require an unreasonable amount of preparation. Also the entire sequence comes with its own built-in variety, in that the different types of piece and the different registrations occur in a pleasing sequence, courtesy of Mr. François Couperin, who planned it that way.


P.S. As a sample, here is Postlude 3, ut notatur supra: