Morning Prayer Settings

I've gotten into something new in the past week or two: setting choral music to prayer.

Some background: since I've moved to San Francisco, I've picked up with a congregation of Episcopals at a church by the name of St. Gregory of Nyssa. If you're an Episcopal church nerd, maybe you've heard of them. If you haven't, then here's what St. Gregory's is: it's a church of classic San Francisco weirdos who are putting into practice some ideas that, if you were to write them down, would sound intellectual and boring. When you actually do them, though, they're fun and warm.

Singing and St. Greg's

One of the things St. Gregory's does is sing almost everything. And without instruments. All is sung a capella. And somehow I've managed to end up in the choir. So now I'm into singing.

At some point, I wanted a daily devotional practice. Someone suggested that I start practicing out of the Book of Common Prayer, so I started doing that. (You can find it here, if you're interested.) St. Greg's does a service out of these readings at the church, but it's early and I'm lazy so I just did it myself at home.

Every morning in this prayer service, one of the two introductory psalms are read: Venite, or Jubilate. (These names are just the first lines of the psalms in Latin.) And since I was reciting one of them every morning, I decided I might as well sing them. And if I'm singing them, why not come up with a little melody to sing them by?

In the back of my head, I thought "Maybe someday I'll write these down."

Morning prayer and Coronavirus

Things happen, you know. I'm not in charge of these things, but they do happen.

Anyway, I found myself alone at home a lot. So did a lot of other people. As a result, the church service turned into a Zoom service. And me being in the circumstances I was in, I thought I might as well get up a little earlier and do the service with a group.

But what about my melody? Well, I started singing it for them. And then Sarah Lehman, who leads morning prayer, said that we should really have everyone sing along...

The Settings

So I did it. Much thanks to Sanford Dole, our choirmaster, who hit me with the Sibelius clue stick. (No thanks to Sibelius, who hit me with the buggy productivity software rentier stick.) These are both unmetered plainchant.

My only advice is that if you sing the Jubilate yourself and you don't have perfect pitch or an instrument to find the pitch with, just sing the opening note as low as you can stand and you'll do all right.

Venite (audio)

Jubilate (audio)