Pilgrims Primers from long ago

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It was back when I was pretty new to the Maternal Heart of Mary Church, Lewisham, that I was asked to use my Gregorian chant typesetting skills to make up a booklet for a new Pilgrimage planned for the feast of St Mary of the Cross (Mackillop).

I used the same source files as A New Book of Old Hymns, then as I updated them I inadvertently spoiled the page numbering on the old Pilgrim’s Primer.

Both books use the old and rather obsolete OpusTeX. Both could do with a complete knock-down rebuild, except that they are still handy as they are. Preliminary experiments with gregorio have shown that there would be a lot of page layout to change, but the Mass Books in the Parramatta Apostolate of the FSSP show that gregorio can work very well.

So, that’s the story – harking back to when I would back up my files on floppy disks and use an Atari Portfolio to do the tedious data entry, neume by neume, for each hymn. Now we have databases of gabc files all ready and waiting to go.

And, no, I won’t be there on the Pilgrimage this year. I’ll be helping with the sung Mass at Lawson instead – 5pm. Also being 8 months pregnant makes the walking a bit much – hey, I’m not even sure I’ll be using the choir loft at Mass – sounds easier to sing from the back pews this time.

2 part Ave Maria Josquin des Prez


A morning spent typing up music with lilypond

I proudly present this PDF:


Just so I don’t lose it.

I wonder if I can put the lilypond code here somehow…

I transcribed from this amazing collection called PARTiTURAS MúSICA CORALCHORAL MUSIC SCORES – CHORMUSIKNOTEN

It looks crazy tricky at the moment – but two parts, hey, we should be able to get it eventually.

Ave vera virginitas

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Remember back to that hymn to St Therese I put up here ages ago? I set it to a meltingly beautiful tune and lost the copy, so after a bit of hunting I have found it again. It’s actually just a part of a longer piece Ave Maria…virgo serena by Josquin des Prez.

Here’s a recording – they truncate the repeat bit, but there’s enough to get the idea.

The tenor has a beautiful couple of beats lag – I wonder if I can have a go at this with my kids.

Ideally I’d like a 3 part Ave Maria. I found this 2 part by Josquin des Prez but it looks a little too fancy/melismatic.

Soul of my Saviour

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St-Peter-Julian-EymardThis is my favourite hymn for a thanksgiving after communion.

Soul of my Savior sanctify my breast,
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest,
Blood of my Savior, bathe me in thy tide,
wash me with waters gushing from thy side.

Strength and protection may thy passion be,
O blessèd Jesus, hear and answer me;
deep in thy wounds, Lord, hide and shelter me,
so shall I never, never part from thee.

Guard and defend me from the foe malign,
in death’s dread moments make me only thine;
call me and bid me come to thee on high
where I may praise thee with thy saints for ay.

Sheet music available at English hymns in the commons thanks to the Church Music Association of America

Holy God, we praise Thy Name!

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communion-of-saintsThis is a well known hymn. It is based on the Ambrosian hymn Te Deum, a hymn of thanksgiving – here is a recording of Giovani Vianini jamming on the organ. But I’m wandering – this is the vernacular hymn of the week post.

The Te Deum was anonymously paraphrased into German but later attributed to Ignaz Franz, then translated into English by Clarence Walworth from New York. I’ve heard that it is the standard post-benediction hymn in the United States.

Liturgically, there are times when the Te Deum is not sung, in times with a more penitential flavour like Lent, so Holy God is not quite a “hymn for all seasons”. But pretty close.

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Thou art King of glory, Christ:
Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
And to death a tributary:
First to break the bars of death,
Thou has opened Heaven to faith.

From Thy high celestial home,
Judge of all, again returning,
We believe that Thou shalt come
In the dreaded doomsday morning;
When Thy voice shall shake the earth,
And the startled dead come forth.

*Therefore do we pray Thee, Lord:
Help Thy servants whom, redeeming
By Thy precious blood out-poured,
Thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming.
Give to them eternal rest
In the glory of the blest.*

Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
Never, Lord, abandon me.

*This verse a later addition by Hugh T. Henry.

Here is the sheet music from the Vatican II hymnbook by Corpus Christi Watershed Holy God/Grosser Gott.

Here is my easy play version holyGod (with lilypond source: holyGodSource)

And the obligatory recording, in case you haven’t heard it already:

Little hymn for the little hours of the little office


UPDATE: I now have a webpage (and a Udemy Course) dedicated to Singing the Little Office.

immaculate-heart-of-maryRight now our family just does two hours, Prime and Compline. I’ve mentioned the hymn for Compline earlier. We did try singing Prime from the regular Divine Office, but found it a bit difficult. Instead we settled on the Little Office version. It’s the same each day, with minor seasonal variations for Advent and Christmas.

The Divine Office has different hymns for each hour: Jam Lucis for Prime, Nunc Sancte Nobis for Terce, Rector Potens for Sext, Rerum Deus for None and Te Lucis for Compline. Matins, Lauds and Vespers have different hymns for each day of the week and different feast days and seasons. The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary has much fewer hymns and most of them to the one tune.

This is the hymn for Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline:

Memento, rerum Conditor,
Nostri quod olim corporis,
Sacrata ab alvo Virginis
Nascendo formam sumpseris.


Maria, Mater gratiæ,
Dulcis parens clementiæ,
Tu nos ab hoste protege
Et mortis hora suscipe.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

Remember, O Creator Lord,
that in the Virgin’s sacred womb
Thou wast conceived, and of her flesh
didst our mortality assume.


Mother of grace, O Mary blest,
to thee, sweet fount of love, we fly;
shield us through life, and take us hence
to thy dear bosom when we die.

O Jesu! born of Mary bright!
Immortal glory be to Thee;
praise to the Father infinite,
and Holy Ghost eternally. Amen.

Matins and Lauds have slightly longer hymns, but same tune.

Some collections of chant have a shorter version, just taking the last two verses of Memento, as sung in this clip from youtube:

So, for singing along, here is the sheet music: MementoRerum
You might remember last weeks diversion into the differences in chant hymns introduced by Pope Urban VIII. Here is the earlier, medieval wording: MementoSalutis. Which is also the same wording that William Byrd used in a beautiful polyphonic arrangement.

Those pages are from a book I was working on which is up at littleoffice.brandt.id.au. A booklet with Prime and Compline from the little office, plus the text of the Gospel Canticles, Benedictus and Magnificat.

Here are recordings of our family singing compline.



Hymn – Here’s Memento Rerum Conditor

Little chapter or reading

Canticle (Nunc Dimittis)

Collect (or prayer)

Marian Antiphon (Salve Regina)

Download all the tracks as one zip file: littleOfficeCompline

Veni Creator

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Gian_Lorenzo_Bernini_-_Dove_of_the_Holy_SpiritGood old hymn to the Holy Ghost. Great for just about every special occasion – confirmations, ordinations, baptisms, weddings, any time you pray for a blessing!

Here is my one page special sheet music: venicreator

And here are the words:

1. Veni, creator Spiritus
mentes tuorum visita,
imple superna gratia,
quae tu creasti pectora.

2. Qui diceris Paraclitus,
altissimi donum Dei,
fons vivus, ignis, caritas
et spiritalis unctio.

3. Tu septiformis munere,
digitus paternae dexterae
tu rite promissum Patris
sermone ditans guttura.

4. Accende lumen sensibus,
infunde amorem cordibus,
infirma nostri corporis,
virtute firmans perpeti.

5. Hostem repellas longius
pacemque dones protinus;
ductore sic te praevio
vitemus omne noxium.

6. Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,
te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

7. Deo Patri sit gloria,
et Filio qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito,
in saeculorum saecula.

There are two popular translations that I know of. Come Holy Ghost, Creator Come – in a nice steady 86.86 rhythm and Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest in 88.88 like the original Latin. They are both really beautiful. Both worth planting in your memory.

The Choral Public Domain Library has more information, including a link to the Catholic Encyclopedia article which gives the first part of John Dryden’s translation.

Lastly, there is another version of the Latin sung by Giovanni Vianini’s choirs. This is the one found in the Monastic Antiphonale, used by Benedictine monasteries. The story of why there are two versions of so many hymns can be read: URBAN VIII AND THE REVISION OF THE LATIN HYMNAL by Vincent A. Lenti. Basically, we had all these hymns for a thousand years or so, then in the 1500s, the humanist Pope Urban VIII thought “that the old hymns were rather tasteless and inelegant and could be improved with a reworking of the Latin texts”. The Benedictines and other groups (including the Vatican) got permission to stick with the old hymns, so that’s why they’re in the Monastic books. The rest of the Roman Rite got the humanist “improved” versions. One of the wonderful changes with the whole recent overhaul of the liturgy was undoing Pope Urban VIII’s changes and going back to the original hymns. Unfortunately, the Extraordinary Form uses 1962 books, which still have the “improved” humanist versions. So that’s what I’ve given here.

“Ambrose and Prudentius took something classical and made it Christian; the revisers and their imitators took something Christian and tried to make it classical. The result may be pedantry, and sometimes perhaps poetry; but it is not piety.” — Rev. Joseph Connelly in Hymns of the Roman Liturgy, The Newmann Press, West minster, Maryland, 1957.

God has it all fixed up in heaven.

Firmly I Believe


CatechisminPcs56The words for this hymn are found in Cardinal Newman’s poem the Dream of Gerontius. It is the prayer of a soul preparing for death. Later in the poem the angels sing another of Cardinal Newman’s famous hymns, Praise to the Holiest. It is a fantastic read.

It also gives something like a chorus to this hymn:

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Parce mihi, Domine.

This chorus is given first and last and in the middle. A rough translation would be Holy Mighty One, Holy God, out of the depths I cry to There. Have Mercy, my Judge, spare me, Lord.

Edward Elgar made the poem into an oratorio, which is why most places use his tune, Drakes Broughton. It can be a majestic tune, but can be prone to plodding or even dragging.

I have enjoyed singing Firmly I Believe to the tune some call Omni Die, which sounds like a reference to the popular Marian hymn, Daily, daily sing to Mary.  Here’s my easy organ music:

However you sing it, call to mind the profession of faith of a soul on the brink of eternity.

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
In that manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.

Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church as His creation,
And her teachings are His own.

And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.

Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and Heaven,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

That second last verse is often left out – it’s more specific to the departing soul.

O purest of creatures

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immaculate-heart-of-maryHere’s a hymn, the source of much consternation in the organ loft. Many people sing it to the tune of the Lourdes Hymn, but all hymnbooks set it to the German tune from the Paderborn Gesangbuch. Because hymnbook writers prefer the proper tune, but lazy pew potatoes go for the easy one.

Note, there are no “Ave”s in this one. That’s a Lourdes Hymn thing. Just a straight hymn to Our Lady. Written by the oratorian priest, Fr Frederick Faber. Famous for veering towards the sentimental side with his hymn writing. I’m sure he would have worn a surplice with a good 5 inches of lace at least.

O purest of creatures! sweet Mother, sweet Maid;
The one spotless womb wherein Jesus was laid.
Dark night hath come down on us, Mother, and we
Look out for thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

2 Deep night hath come down on this rough-spoken world.
And the banners of darkness are boldly unfurled;
And the tempest-tossed Church—all her eyes are on thee.
They look to thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

3 He gazed on thy soul, it was spotless and fair;
For the empire of sin, it had never been there;
None ever had owned thee, dear Mother, but He,
And He blessed thy clear shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

4 Earth gave Him one lodging; ’twas deep in thy breast,
And God found a home where the sinner finds rest;
His home and His hiding-place, both were in thee;
He was won by thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.

5 Oh, blissful and calm was the wonderful rest
That thou gavest thy God in thy virginal breast;
For the heaven He left He found heaven in thee,
And He shone in thy shining, sweet Star of the Sea.
Frederick William Faber, 1814–63

Here are my files – I’ve only typed up the soprano and bass lines for playing on the organ because I don’t do my regular practice.
Lilypond source and midi file: OPurestSource
And the printable pdf: OPurest

And here is a karaoke version with full organ and congregation joining in.

Te lucis ante terminum

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Each night our family sings Compline, the night time prayers of the Church. We learnt the way from the Maternal Heart Church. Since then they have shifted to singing the Divine Office from the Benedictine books, so they have slightly different words and tunes. Here is the Roman one that most 1962 books use. In 1974 there was yet another change.

The hymn for Compline is very beautiful. The prayers to ward off bad dreams are helpful when getting children off to bed. Each new season brings a new tune, the words staying the same. They’re all pretty simple, as you don’t need complicated stuff to learn just before bed!

John Mason Neale’s translation runs thus:

To Thee, before the close of day
Creator of the world, we pray
that with Thy wonted favor, Thou
wouldst be our Guard and Keeper now.

From all ill dreams defend our eyes,
from nightly fears and fantasies:
tread under foot our ghostly foe,
that no pollution we may know.

O Father, that we ask be done
through Jesus Christ Thine only Son,
who, with the Holy Ghost and Thee,
shall live and reign eternally.

For lyrics in Latin and English go to Te lucis at Thesaurus Precum Latinarum.

The tune I’ve got here today is the regular Sunday and other minor feasts tune you can use most of the time. Here’s a pdf, gregorio51d606b280f881.81872940 mostly taken from GregoBase.

Here is how we sing it: Te Lucis

And here is the serious rendition with the music scrolling past.

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