The Plainsong Psalter

Does anyone here have experience using the Plainsong Psalter published by the Episcopal Church USA, whether in private or public worship? It sets the psalms from the 1979 BCP to variants of the eight Gregorian psalm tones. I got a copy for my own use a week or so back and have been acclimating myself to it. I find it pretty easy to use so far and beautiful, but I know next to nothing about Gregorian chant.

The psalms come pre-assigned to tones, but my understanding is that any tone could theoretically be used for any psalm (could be wrong there). Is there a system for deciding what tone is used, and when?

Comments

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    I thought for a moment, oh goody, something I know about, but alas, I have only run into the previous one that was done for the U.S. Coverdale version of 1928.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, Hell Host
    I think that most tones (at least) can be used for most psalms. I don't know that there's a system, beyond "the music director prefers..."
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    At all costs avoid the wrong syllables getting stressed as the note changes - my particular bete noir when plainsoing is Englished.
    Same with melismata on weak syllables.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I have not had occasion to use this particular psalter, but am interested to know it exists. I’ve often wanted to chant the psalms and such during the offices, but have a fear of singing to myself alone, for some reason. So you’re braver than I!
  • PDR wrote: »
    I thought for a moment, oh goody, something I know about, but alas, I have only run into the previous one that was done for the U.S. Coverdale version of 1928.

    The St Dunstan psalter, right? This one has a similar layout- the main difference, I believe, apart the translation, is the use of modern instead of square notation. And the pointing is a little clearer. I'm not sure if the tones are assigned the same way- again, I wonder what the rationale is for this.
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    If one is using an antiphon before and after a psalm, the mode of the antiphon determines the psalm tone to use for the psalm text. If no antiphon, any psalm tone may be chosen. As for The Plainsong Psalter (USA book using the 1979 BCP psalter texts), I used it weekly in a previous parish to lead a chanted Evensong. Small attendance, but people caught on to the psalm tones fairly well. A new choirmaster instituted the service and simply started leading it, and eventually others volunteered to take turns leading. The approach was to just do it and let people catch on rather than bore them with long explanations. Questions were happily answered outside of the service time.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    PDR wrote: »
    I thought for a moment, oh goody, something I know about, but alas, I have only run into the previous one that was done for the U.S. Coverdale version of 1928.

    The St Dunstan psalter, right? This one has a similar layout- the main difference, I believe, apart the translation, is the use of modern instead of square notation. And the pointing is a little clearer. I'm not sure if the tones are assigned the same way- again, I wonder what the rationale is for this.

    That rings a bell.

    On the whole I prefer books that use plainsong to use square notation, as modern notation with the note 'to be sung in a free, speech-like rhythm' never seems to communicate itself to my brain, and I try and keep strict time.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    Does anyone here have experience using the Plainsong Psalter published by the Episcopal Church USA, whether in private or public worship? It sets the psalms from the 1979 BCP to variants of the eight Gregorian psalm tones. I got a copy for my own use a week or so back and have been acclimating myself to it. I find it pretty easy to use so far and beautiful, but I know next to nothing about Gregorian chant.

    The psalms come pre-assigned to tones, but my understanding is that any tone could theoretically be used for any psalm (could be wrong there). Is there a system for deciding what tone is used, and when?

    You're right: the psalms can be sung to any tone but if you're going to have them pointed, they must be pointed for the particular tone (with its particular ending - each of the eight psalm tones has a variety of endings).

    I'm unfamiliar with the publication to which you refer but at our mission we use the psalter of Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore), which I point for the various services according to the appointed tones for those services. At Vespers in our rite, the three psalms are in Gregorian tones 2, 4, and 1. You can see examples here.

    There's a psalm later on that is set to tone 5, but our people know it so well that I haven't had to include the music. The pointing seems to suffice.
  • SirPalomidesSirPalomides Shipmate
    edited July 26
    Thanks, Cyprian. That's helpful. I don't understand why Fr Lazarus Moore's psalter wasn't more widely adopted among Anglophone Orthodox, as it's very well done and IMO superior to the HTM and other versions.
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited July 26
    Thanks, Cyprian. That's helpful. I don't understand why Fr Lazarus Moore's psalter wasn't more widely adopted among Anglophone Orthodox, as it's very well done and IMO superior to the HTM and other versions.

    Oh, I quite agree. It's far superior, is helpfully in print, and may be read (with translation notes) here.

    However, I more recently learnt that he had prepared an earlier version in the 1960s, in a more traditional form of English (though the with 3rd-person singular verbs in their more modern form), and that this was in the old Jordanville Prayer Book before they adopted the HTM version.
Sign In or Register to comment.