sing we merrily

Those of you who know me well had better sit down before reading the next (unprecedented) sentence:

I was really pleased with myself tonight.

(gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever said that before)

Tonight was a special edition of Music Night, in honour of this week’s mattins:  Chant for Beginners.

With no choir, we are having to adapt the pattern of mattins, but we still need to chant something.  So the goal tonight was to help those who don’t know how to deal with chant at all to feel less frustrated by it.

And they said:


oh, I see

yes, I understand now.

Some of my favourite phrases in all the world.

But I really wasn’t sure it was going to work tonight.  I have no business teaching chant.  I can do it (sort of) but my understanding is more instinctive than articulate.   So, I fret about it all day.  I decided to go by a roundabout route (and not to reach beyond simple chant).

We listened to CDs of good anglican chant.

We did a ‘history of western music in 10 minutes or less’.  We sang O Come O Come Emmanuel in unison, and tried singing it in fourths.  We gave up and let the the CD sing it for us.

Then, we started chanting.  Bless the American 1982 Hymnal, and its set out notation.  We moved from one-word-one-note to the mystery of lots-of-words-one-bar.  We sang the Sound of Music chant for the Venite.  And then, we looked at a pointed version of the words.

I sang the tune they had just been singing.  They read the words with the funny bar marks.

And they said:


O, I see.

I understand now.

And I thought:


Thank God.

(well I got away with it this time)

Simple Chant for Sunday, along with some metrical canticles and some modern chant-like things.

But now that I’ve seen what we can do, it’ll be Neumes for New Year.

3 thoughts on “sing we merrily”

  1. Very good, but I’m curious as to what the ‘Sound of Music’ chant for the Venite is. I can’t think of which one it might be.

    Also, I have a program in which you can write neumes/text on a four-line staff. Trouble is, it’s a French program.

  2. S4, I think? I don’t have the hymnal to hand. It’s the written-out ‘O Come let us sing…’ — right hand side, last one before the anglican chant version.

    It’s the nuns’ tune in the middle of the prelude of the film version — though not to this text. There’s just a snatch of it.

    You realise I’m now going to have to go find a copy of the DVD to make sure I’m right.

    (and as for neumes, I’d rather deal with even the most complex antiphon rather than a computer programme in French)

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