EVERAL READERS misunderstood my recent article which revealed a secret about the St. Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal. They thought the hymnal will contain polyphonic scores, but that’s incorrect—the Brébeuf hymnal contains 900 pages of marvelous metrical melodies in English for the congregation. There’s no room for polyphony, and that would be inappropriate for a hymnal. 1 The point I was trying to make last week is that the Brébeuf hymnal will have individual rehearsal videos for choirs who sing SATB hymns.
What do I mean by “individual” tracks?
Click on the link below (#88208) for William Byrd’s fabulous canon, Non Nobis, Dómine, and you’ll understand:
REHEARSAL VIDEOS for each individual voice and PDF score await you at #88208.
Many readers won’t click on that link—depriving themselves of the PDF score and individual tracks—which truly makes me glum.
Will you do so?
HE EXCELLENT SINGERS on this video 2 were participants in the Symposium. In terms of performance, there are many possible options. One method is to have the Highest Voice sing through the entire melody. Then add the 2nd line. Finally, add the 3rd line. By the time the 3rd line is added, the volume should be close to forte, but as the canon continues, it can eventually fade away. The canon can be sung by all women or all men—or both men & women (as shown on the PDF score). The PDF also shows that this canon was once used as “Grace before meals” for festive occasions in England.
Mozart and Beethoven greatly admired this canon. Dr. John Christopher Pepusch, in his Treatise on Harmony (1730), distinctly calls it “the famous Canon by William Byrd.”
…but some musicians have questioned whether William Byrd formulated this canon, and are currently in the process of attempting to prove he did not. 3
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 A serious flaw I’ve noticed in some hymnals is an attempt to contain “something for everything.” Such hymnals insufficient excerpts from the Liber Cantualis, insufficient excerpts from the Graduale Romanum, insufficient excerpts from the Missale Romanum, an insufficient quantity of congregational hymns, and end up leaving everybody unhappy. The Brébeuf hymnal avoids that by having a clearly defined focus which is desperately needed: beautiful Roman Catholic metrical hymns in English.
2 The singers were: Jacqueline Halas, Karen Furlong, Francesca Evaristo, Sarah Decker, and Sarah Halas.
3 The problem is that this canon’s melodic elements are so basic—making them difficult to trace.