HEN I PLAY organ for Vespers on Sunday afternoon, sometimes I have to jump in and sing. It doesn’t happen often—because we usually have at least 30-40 singers—but on certain days it’s necessary…such as the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when the attendance was quite sparse! We normally do the “Lucis Creator Optime” to a metrical hymn setting, taken from the Brébeuf Hymnal (since everything else is sung in plainsong) but sometimes we sing the plainsong version.
I composed this organ accompaniment following the “Brébeuf method,” where every verse is written out:
Perhaps my favorite thing about the Saint Jean de Brébeuf Hymnal is how every single verse of the organ accompaniments is carefully written out. It makes life so easy, I actually feel guilty! Notice how the accompaniment provides contrasting accompaniments for the same melodic phrase; one has the bass line in descending stepwise motion, while the other has the bass line in ascending stepwise motion:
But the Brébeuf Hymnal is hardly the first book to recognize how essential it is to write out every verse. Take a look at this special Paris edition of the Antiphonale, printed in 1913:
By the way, the approbation in the front of that book is by Cardinal Martinelli, who wrote a very important letter condemning the “Mocquereau” rhythm, the “Wagner” rhythm, and the “Haberl” rhythm. We shall speak of that letter another day…
I think you’ll agree we have made tremendous progress since 1851, when this accompaniment appeared:
(That is from an 1851 book called “Hymnarium Vesperale.”)