Music 78: Victimae paschali laudes

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The melody (one of my all time favourite pieces of music) is from an ancient Gregorian chant Victimae paschali laudes. It tells the story of Mary Magdalene visiting the tomb of Jesus in the morning and finding it empty.

I composed this piece without referring to the chant, as I thought I knew it off by heart! I’ve discovered I left a bit out, but I’m not going to redo the piece!

22 thoughts on “Music 78: Victimae paschali laudes

      1. Cynthia Jobin

        The resurrection is implied throughout the wording of the hymn…and the final
        Scimus Christum surrexisse
        a mortuis vere…etc…
        you have included melodically in your variation, so it’s really not a problem.

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        Along with recent popular interest in Gregorian chant, there has also been a great new resurgence of interest in American polyphonic shape-note singing— ancient Scottish, Irish and West English melodies that were sung a cappella in early New England and made their way all along the Appalachians and beyond. As you probably know, it’s called Sacred Harp. Young urban types have taken it up…. groups quite unlike the settlers of early America! I’m a big fan of Sacred Harp.

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I didn’t know about Sacred Harp at all but shall certainly investigate it. When I lived in North Carolina, in Leicester, I was surrounded by the family of Bascom Lamar Lunsford (“Mountain Dew” composer and “Minstrel of the Appalachians”). It was a very “enriching” experience – at least one of them visited every day! – and although his was a tradition quite difference from Sacred Harp, it’s all part of the richness of the American tradition. I never liked Copland, or rather never understood his music, until I lived in Leicester!

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            1. Bruce Goodman Post author

              That’s fascinating! When I was doing my novitiate (what a book that would make!) there were four novices from Tonga. Every day were had to sing the chant from the “Liber Ursalis”. As novices we had 365 days almost left to our own devices. I was the “music master”. The Tongans all worked out the melodies of the plain chant by using the method you have described! I could never get to grips with it! So I used to pretend I knew and let Makafalani Tatafu (that’s a person’s name) take over the lessons!

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              1. Cynthia Jobin

                That would probably make a very interesting book….why don’t you write it?

                Sacred Harp has caught on in the UK, and Australia, quite a bit, and this year I think there’s going to be a Sacred Harp convention in France. I don’t think it has hit NZ yet….

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                1. Bruce Goodman Post author

                  Every second R.C. School is Sacred Heart. I’m not sure if we want a Harp as well! Re the book – the people are all alive, bar one, and it could be a little too close to home – not that there’s any scandal, but I’m not sure everyone likes their lives scattered across the Networks!

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