Cistercian chant

Splendor Veritas is a private project to photograph and make available Cistercian chant books (the Cistercians have their own rite and chant, different here and there from the Roman Rite). Most of the books are from the 20th century, some pre-conciliar, some post.

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Sarum Rite Chants

This comes from the Gregorian Institute of Canada, at McMaster University, and includes a vast amount of material from this old English rite. Here’s their summary of the project:

The Sarum Rite of the Western Church developed through the period 1066-1558, and was used throughout much of Great Britain and parts of North-Western Europe. Sources for the Sarum Rite rite exist in a considerable number of medieval manuscripts as well as a large number of printed editions dating from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Under the rule of Elizabeth I, the Latin Sarum Rite was finally abolished and replaced (in Britain) by the English Book of Common Prayer. The Gregorian Institute of Canada is in the process of publishing The Sarum Rite, containing the full text and music for the Breviary Office, for the Processional, and for the Missal. This edition is being published serially in PDF format. Publication began in January 2006. New installments are published every six months.

Since 2010 The Sarum Rite is also being published in an English edition.  The English Performing Edition conforms to the text-style of the Book of Common Prayer and the King James Bible. This Performing Edition facilitates performance by streamlining the rubrics and by reorganizing the material where appropriate. The English Scholarly Edition (in progress) will conform to the text-style of the Challoner-Douay-Rheims Bible, which follows the Vulgate, and will follow the same order as the Latin edition.

This project aims to be both historical as well as practical.  Its connection with the living traditions of the Church can be to a great extent understood through the prespectives presented by László Dobszay in his recent book, The Restoration and Organic Development of the Roman Rite, London: T & T Clark, 2010.


Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 7.43.04 PMAnother geeky fun resource: The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society. Academic. But seem to specialize in publishing obscure hymns and songs, such as a sequence for a Mass for St. Ursula (and the 11,000 virgins) in the old York Rite.

I also must add it’s so moving to come across versions of still-sung hymns in ancient manuscripts and hear more or less the exact same chant I know come off the page. Here’s a transcription of a version of Vexilla Regis (which friends and I sang at vespers of Palm Sunday) from a manuscript from 16th century Toledo, Spain:

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Do be generous and donate to support projects like this if you download or use material from the site! Here’s their donations page.

Ave Maria

Here’s one more chant by Saint Hildegard, and this time I include a bit of the commentaries on the songs which you can find at the site of the International Society to which I link.

This page has the text, video, sheet music and commentaries. A wonderful resource.

Some excerpts from the very interesting commentary:

“In the Dendermonde manuscript, the songs to Mary are found between the songs to God and those dedicated to the Holy Spirit, perhaps because Hildegard associated the second person of the Trinity so closely with the woman from whose womb he was born in human flesh. […] Though Mary only rarely appears as a visionary figure in Hildegard’s theological writings, the sixteen songs addressed to her in the Symphonia are the most dedicated to any one figure.”

“Beverly Lomer has argued elsewhere that the Marian repertory would have been primarily intended for performance by the nuns of Hildegard’s community, and therefore, unlike the theological books that were written for an outside audience, would have been free from external scrutiny (see Lomer’s work in “Further Resources” below). The unconventional imagery and almost divine agency that Hildegard assigns to Mary in the songs would support this supposition. While the more typical contemporary depiction of Mary’s role was that of mediatrix, in Hildegard’s Mariology, she assumes the status of an essential partner in the redemptory scheme.”

“The opening respond also showcases one of Hildegard’s most characteristic Marian themes, of the Virgin Mother healing the brokenness brought into the world by the first mother, Eve. The image of Mary treading down and crushing the head of the serpent (contrivisti, conculcasti) is a classic fulfillment of God’s words of punishment to the serpent in Genesis 3:15—but Hildegard adds her own unique spin on the theme by imagining that crushing as the tearing down of the tower of death that Eve constructed as she stretched out her neck “with puffed-up pride” at the serpent’s beckoning.”

R. Ave Maria,
O auctrix vite,
reedificando salutem,
que mortem conturbasti
et serpentem contrivisti,
ad quem se Eva erexit
erecta cervice
cum sufflatu superbie.
Hunc conculcasti
dum de celo Filium Dei genuisti,

R. quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

V. O dulcissima atque amantissima
mater, salve,
que natum tuum
de celo missum mundo edidisti:

R. quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

Gloria Patri et Filio
et Spiritui sancto.

R. Quem inspiravit
Spiritus Dei.

R. Hail Mary,
O authoress of life,
rebuilding up salvation’s health,
for death you have disturbed,
that serpent crushed
to whom Eve raised herself,
her neck outstretched
with puffed-up pride.
That serpent’s head you ground to dust
when heaven’s Son of God you bore,

R. on whom has breathed
God’s Spirit.

V. O sweet and most beloved
mother, hail!
Your Son
from heaven sent you gave unto the world:

R. on whom has breathed
God’s Spirit.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit.

R. On him has breathed
God’s Spirit.

O tu suavissima virga

Another great chant collected and made available by the International Society of Hildegard von Bingen Studies. Video and sheet music available at this link.

R. O tu suavissima virga
frondens de stirpe Jesse,
O quam magna virtus est
quod divinitas
in pulcherrimam filiam aspexit,
sicut aquila in solem
oculum suum ponit:R. Cum supernus Pater claritatem Virginis
adtendit ubi Verbum suum
in ipsa incarnari voluit.

V. Nam in mistico misterio Dei,
illustrata mente Virginis,
mirabiliter clarus flos
ex ipsa Virgine

R. Cum supernus Pater claritatem Virginis
adtendit ubi Verbum suum
in ipsa incarnari voluit.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui
sancto, sicut erat in principio.

R. Cum supernus Pater claritatem Virginis
adtendit ubi Verbum suum
in ipsa incarnari voluit.

R. O sweetest branch,
you bloom from Jesse’s stock!
How great the mighty power,
that divinity
upon a daughter’s beauty gazed—
an eagle turns his eye
into the sun:R. As Heaven’s Father tended to the Virgin’s splendor
when he willed his Word
in her to be incarnate.

V. For in God’s mystic mystery,
the Virgin’s mind illuminéd,
the flower bright—a wonder!—
forth from that Virgin

R. As Heaven’s Father tended to the Virgin’s splendor
when he willed his Word
in her to be incarnate.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and the Spirit
Holy, as it was in the beginning.

R. As Heaven’s Father tended to the Virgin’s splendor
when he willed his Word
in her to be incarnate.

O quam preciosa

Another chant by Saint Hildegard, with the sheet music available at this link:

R. O quam preciosa est
virginitas virginis huius
que clausam
portam habet,
et cuius viscera
sancta divinitas
calore suo infudit, ita
quod flos in ea crevit.

R. Et Filius Dei per secreta ipsius
quasi aurora exivit.

V. Unde dulce germen,
quod Filius ipsius est,
per clausuram ventris eius
paradisum aperuit.

R. Et Filius Dei per secreta ipsius
quasi aurora exivit.

R. How precious is
this Virgin’s sweet virginity,
a closéd
whose womb
divinity most holy with
its warmth has flooded so
a flower sprung within it.

R. The Son of God has come forth from
her hidden chamber like the dawn.

V. And so the sweet and tender shoot—
her Son—
has through her womb’s enclosure
opened Paradise.

R. The Son of God has come forth from
her hidden chamber like the dawn.


O tu illustrata

Here’s a Marian antiphon by Saint Hildegard of Bingen, video link below:

O tu illustrata
de divina claritate,
clara Virgo Maria,
Verbo Dei
unde venter tuus floruit
de introitu
Spiritus Dei,
qui in te
et in te exsuxit
quod Eva abstulit
in abscisione puritatis,
per contractam
contagionem de
suggestione diaboli.Tu mirabiliter abscondisti in te
inmaculatam carnem
per divinam racionem,
cum Filius Dei
in ventre tuo floruit,
sancta divinitate
eum educente
contra carnis iura
que construxit Eva,
integritati copulatum
in divinis visceribus.
Illumined by
God’s clearest brightness,
O Virgin Mary bright,
with the Word of God
your womb then flourished at
the entrance of
God’s Spirit—
within you
he breathed,
within drew out
the loss of Eve,
a purity cut off and silenced
by that disease
contracted at
the Devil’s sly persuasion.You wondrously held hid within yourself
a flesh kept undefiled
according to God’s Reason—
for when the Son of God
within your womb was blossomed,
divinity most holy
brought him forth
to abrogate the laws of flesh
establishéd by Eve,
for he was joined to whole integrity
in flesh and womb divine.

At this link you can play a video of a group singing it.