“One may wish that Venantius Fortunatus’ magnificent processional hymn for Easter, Salve festa dies had survived as a sequence. It is really a pity that room for it was not found in some part of the office.” —Fr. Adrian Fortescue|
OU DESIRE a contemporary SATB setting of the Salve Festa Dies for Easter? You love the ancient poem by Fortunatus (†609AD) but require English translations for it? You cannot sing all 60+ verses of the entire hymn? No problem!
Try the one by Msgr. Van Nuffel, who died in 1953:
The Soprano line holds the traditional chant melody while the other voices provide modern harmonies, with tons of stepwise motion in the bass. 1
UPDATE • A professional recording was made available on 21 March 2015:
In the first verse, the bass section must employ a very light falsetto—otherwise flawless stepwise motion would be impossible. If your basses become perturbed, remind them that contemporary music can be much more demanding than a few falsetto bars!
EXCELLENT LITERAL TRANSLATIONS of the Salve Festa Dies into English can be found here:
Here’s the Gregorian score as printed in the 2014 CMAA Parish Book of Chant:
Here’s an organ accompaniment to that version:
Here are six (6) more versions of the Salve Festa Dies:
The NOH version uses a melodic variant of the Salve Festa Dies:
Here’s what Dom Guéranger has to say about the Salve Festa Dies:
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 In 2004, when I first showed the NOH accompaniments by Flor Peeters & Jules Van Nuffel to Fr. Robert Ferguson, FSSP—who is a magnificent organist—he couldn’t get over the walking bass lines. He thought they were absolutely splendid. When I passed by his Oklahoma rectory a few days after our meeting, he opened his door and called out across a field: “Jeff, I still can’t get over that beautiful stepwise motion in the bass!” And he was right!