WO YEARS after Dom Joseph Pothier left Solesmes to become Prior of Ligugé, the LIBER RESPONSORIALIS (1895) was published, which was entirely the result of Pothier’s research. In addition to those parts of Matins which don’t change, it contains first class feasts and the Common of the Saints: martyrs, confessor bishops, virgins, and so forth. This book is only for Matins, but the hymns are often repeated at Vespers. We were recently sent a rare book which seems to consist of excerpts from the LIBER RESPONSORIALIS. (Perhaps an expert on the Divine Office can let me know whether it contains anything the Liber Responsorialis does not.)
We thank the donor who sent us this book from 1928:
The “invitatory” occurs at the beginning of Matins and therefore introduces the daily divine Office. The invitatory proper is the anthem or response, which is interspersed with the verses of Psalm 94 (Venite exsultemus Domino), the invitatory psalm. Note that the whole invitatory anthem is sung before some of the verses of the psalm, and the second part only before other verses.
I must admit I’m puzzled that Solesmes Abbey (via the Belgian Desclée brothers printing house) felt the need to produce such a book. My understanding is that the office of Matins is very rarely sung, even in the strictest of monasteries. When it is sung, it is usually done “recto tono.” I am told there was a tradition of secular clergy singing Matins for the feast of Christmas—and perhaps for some other great feasts—but as far as I know, seculars would usually recite Matins (and Lauds) privately.
In any event, it’s an interesting book. Composers of “English Plainsong” should make themselves aware of these tones, which are quite beautiful.
Here are some photos of the INVITATORY (1928):
And here are some photos from the LIBER RESPONSORIALIS (1895):
Full title of book: Invitatoria cum psalmo Venite exsultemus per varios tonos pro officiis de tempore et de sanctis. Typis Societatis S. Joannis Evangelistae • Desclée & Socii • S. Sedis Apostolicae et S. Rituum Congregationis Typographi • PARISIIS, TORNACI, ROMAE +
MENTIONED that the INVITATORY consists of excerpts from the LIBER RESPONSORIALIS (1895), which contains the pre-Urbanite hymn texts (i.e. “non-corrupted”), just as Dom Pothier had used the pre-Urbanite hymn versions in his 1891 Liber Antiphonarius. For instance, in the 1895 Liber Responsorialis we find “Praelium certaminis” instead of “Lauream certaminis” in Fortunatus’ Pange Lingua. About a decade later, in September of 1904, the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican Edition would adopt the following motion:
22. The Congregation of Sacred Rites shall be requested to return to the medieval text of the Hymns (a.) because the text corrected by Urban VIII is ill-suited to the needs of the chant; (b.) in consideration of the artistic unity of the whole of the liturgical work; and (c.) out of respect for the ancient and holy authors of a great portion of these chants.
They were not granted permission at that point, but some publishers included the ancient texts as an option. Indeed, any priests or monks or nuns who sang the Divine Office had never adopted the Urbanite revisions. For instance, the major Roman basilicas never adopted the revisions of Urban VIII; nor did the Benedictines.
To learn more about “pre-Urbanite” hymn texts, please obtain the Brébeuf hymnal, which has a color-page section explaining the subject in detail, with much original research: