EFORE I BEGIN, I should remind readers that this article will make more sense if you watch the 75-minute video I recently posted, which talks about the “blank spaces” in the Chruch’s official edition of Gregorian Chant, as well as the “French Vs. German Trochee.” (Specifically, you’ll want to review the chapter which explains “Trochee trouble.”) Since we’ll be discussing the Salve Regina, let me post two versions before we proceed:
* PDF Download • SALVE REGINA (French)
—The “normal” way it’s sung • Rhythmic markings by Dom Mocquereau.
* PDF Download • SALVE REGINA (Germanic)
—The “pure” Editio Vaticana way to sing it.
Most Popular Chant? • What is the most popular piece of plainsong? Many would answer: “The simple version of the Salve Regina.” But where does this piece come from? What is its provenance? I sent this query to Professor Charles Weaver—an expert in Gregorian Chant—and he gave me a few leads, which I deeply appreciate. The famous People’s Mass Book (World Library of Sacred Music, 1964) claims the tune was written by “P. Bourget” and published in Paris circa 1634AD. The following versions will help us understand more:
* “Sálve Regína” Offices de l’Eglise (Reims-Cambrai, 1887)
* “Sálve Regína” Antiphonale (Pustet, 1892)
* “Sálve Regína” Liber Usualis (Pothier, 1896)
* “Sálve Regína” Cantus Varii (Pothier, 1902)
* “Sálve Regína” Manuale Missæ (Mocquereau, 1902)
* “Sálve Regína” Liber Usualis (Mocquereau, 1903)
* “Sálve Regína” Five Lines (Mocquereau, 1921)
* “Sálve Regína” Modern Notation (Mocquereau, 1924)
* “Sálve Regína” Kleines Vesperbuch (Schwann, 1928)
* “Sálve Regína” Antiphonale (Mocquereau, 1949)
* “Sálve Regína” Msgr. Charles E. Spence (Mocquereau, 1953)
* “Sálve Regína” Mass & Vespers (Mocquereau, 1957)
* “Sálve Regína” Graduale Simplex (Vatican Press, 1975)
Out Of Favor • The “simple” version seems to have fallen out of favor from about 1905 until the 1920s. It seems the Editio Vaticana versions (Dom Mocquereau, Dom Pothier, Schwann, Mechlin, Pustet, Styria, and so on) were trying to promote the authentic version, rather than the “simple” version, which dates from the 17th century. Professor Weaver has pointed out that the Pustet version says the “simple” version is in Mode 11 … which is somewhat hilarious. Shades of Glareanus! I am not sure when the first edition of Dom Mocquereau’s Liber Usualis (using the Vatican Edition) appeared, but I suspect it was circa 1924. The INTRODUCTION to the Liber Usualis uses the “simple” version to illustrate how to place the ictus in syllabic chant.
Seventeen (17) Accompaniments • I am not convinced the “simple” version was ever officially part of the Editio Vaticana, although its inclusion by the Schwann 1928 VESPERALE (see above) militates against this notion. If readers can assist in this regard, please do! As far as I know, nobody ever composed an organ accompaniment for the “simple” version, except those who follow the rhythm of Dom Mocquereau. You can download seventeen (17) organ accompaniments to the “simple” version, all of them following Dom Mocquereau.
Can You See Them? • How good are your eyes? Can you spot the “trochee trouble” vis-à-vis how the Germans sing this piece? (Remember, there is no “correct” way to treat trochees in the official edition.) I have attempted to highlight them for you by means of various colored boxes:
More To Come • We will be talking a lot about “trochee trouble” over the next year. On the one hand, it doesn’t make much sense that someone has to purchase a modern notation edition to figure out how to sing the trochees. In 1904, Dom Raphael Molitor of Beuron Abbey—citing a statement by Dr. Peter Wagner, a member of the Vatican Commission on Gregorian Chant—wrote about this subject as follows:
In other places, owing to the varying width of the space between the note-groups, it remains doubtful whether the editor really desired a mora vocis or not. He seems to have felt this uncertainty himself when he wrote on p. VIII: De his omnibus rebus utile erit, transcriptionem in notas musicas modernas hujus libelli consulere (“On all these matters, it will be useful to consult the transcription into modern musical notes of this book”). But what singer will purchase a [book] when he finds he must purchase a second book as a key to the first? Even a choirmaster would scarcely do so.
On the other hand, consider how the monks of Solesmes sing this antiphon:
Gray Area • In that video, did you notice how the monks of Solesmes Abbey treat the trochees of Dom Mocquereau? (Many other examples could be cited; perhaps if I can find the time I can provide more examples.) The Solesmes recording of CREDO I is a good example, but there are others. Abbat Pothier—as I’m sure you’ve observed in the scores which adhere to the “pure” Editio Vaticana—does not have any dots or dashes to show elongated notes. Rather, he gives freedom to each individual choirmaster. Was that smart or foolish? In some ways, it seems foolish. However, the Latin tonic accent must be treated with subtlety and delicacy. As I mentioned, we will be talking about this a lot in the coming months. I encourage readers to weigh in!
Trochee Trouble • There can be no doubt that “Trochee Trouble” is a serious issue. For example, notice how the following examples of the “German School” are not consistent when it comes to the Mode V psalm tone (a truly basic item!):
What We’re Used To • Once you sing something a certain way, it can be very hard to change. For example, consider the way the Germans sing the “Pange Lingua” of Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Addendum • Here’s how the “authentic” Salve Regina looks in an ancient medieval manuscript:
As far as I can tell, during medieval times the prayer always omitted the word “Mater.” But in our times, we say: Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ…