Sunday, February 21, 2010


Update: I have added even more antiphon research charts to this page (October 2013).

I was very surprised to learn originally that the antiphons of the psalter were butchered and confused in an entirely arbitrary seeming way under Pius X, with little or no explanation; so I did a little research and made some charts (links to download these charts are included) comparing. 

Pre-1911, there were 141 unique antiphons in the psalter. Post-1911, there were 220. Yet, when compared, only 66 antiphons are recognizably the same between the two sets; and even then, sixteen are of those changed by expanding them, adding words, or removing words or clauses, or both. Many of the overlapping ones are just the ones for the special seasons (Advent, Lent, Passiontide), not the per annum ferias. So there were 75 antiphons unique to the pre-1911 Breviary that were simply lost, and 154 unique to the post-1911 Breviary that were simply introduced to the liturgy with no explanation as to their origin.

In total, between the two psalters, you can find 295 unique antiphons (just in the psalter; not counting Propers and Commons, which thankfully didn't change). All this massive change disturbs me. I've seen the Pius X changes deconstructed and critiqued, but the massive changes to the psalter antiphons (which in the chanted Office form a significant part, hence the "Antiphonale")...I've never seen discussed. The traditional Roman antiphonary seems quite destroyed by 1911. 

I have made a chart to explore what happened to the 75 antiphons that disappeared in the 1911 reforms and how they interact or conflict with the post-1911 antiphons. In comparing pre-1911 and post-1911 I had already determined that there were 295 unique antiphons between the two psalters. In the post-1911 psalter there are 247 unique psalms, divisi, and canticles (including 49aii and the new Lauds canticles and psalm 94 from the Invitatory which is not strictly included in the psalter, but excluding the repeated psalms at Lauds II).

71 of these 247 have no antiphon uniquely of their own. Specifically, when three psalms or divisi are grouped under one antiphon at the Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Compline, this leaves 2 without an antiphon (usually the antiphon is a quote from the first of the three, but a few times is actually a quote from the second or third). Add to this the new canticle from Daniel at Lauds II and Psalm 94 from the Invitatory which have no antiphon of "their own" (because it would always be proper) and 2 antiphons x 5 hours x 7 days + 2 = 72 which have no antiphon associated specifically with them as "their own."

This means there are 175 unique "per annum" antiphons in the post-1911 psalter that "belong to" specific psalms, divisi, or canticles (246-71 = 175). This is confirmed by actual counting. In comparing pre-1911 and post-1911 I had already determined that 66 antiphons were shared between the two psalters. 21 of these (going through and counting) are "seasonal" antiphons, meaning 45 "per annum" antiphons are shared between the two. Subtracting from 175, this leaves 130 "per annum" antiphons unique to post-1911.

This is confirmed coming at it in the other direction as well. I had already determined there were 154 unique antiphons post-1911. Going through and counting confirms that 24 of the unique post-1911 are merely "seasonal," which is exactly what would be expected when subtracting the assumed 130 from 154 (specifically, these 24 are the Lauds II ferial antiphons, excluding the 6 canticles). This also confirms (by subtracting from 175) that 45 of of the shared antiphons are "per annum" (and, thus, by subtracting from 66, that 21 are seasonal).

Since 45 are already shared between the two sets, this means that 130 psalms/divisi/canticles in the post-1911 psalter were sites of potential "conflict" with pre-1911 antiphons.

I had already determined that there are 75 antiphons unique to pre-1911. Adding the 66 shared to this, there are 141 present in the pre-1911 psalter. 62 of these 75 are for separate psalms (4 are paschal or variations of alleluias not needed to be associated with specific psalms, five are "alternates" for psalm 62, and 2 are "extra" antiphons from psalm 150 since only one is needed to cover it, and 2 are “extra” from psalm 148 because there is already one for 148 which is shared with post-1911.) By addition, this means that 107 "non-repetitive"/non-seasonal antiphons are present in the pre-1911 psalter.

The question then becomes how many of these 62 pre-1911 "non-repetitive" antiphons conflict with the 130 post-1911 "per annum" antiphons. I knew a lot would conflict, but at least a few would find one of the 72 "free" spaces and therefore not be in conflict.

It turned out, when I counted, that the answer was that 15 pre-1911 antiphons are associated with a spot that is "free" in post-1911, meaning these antiphons were simply gotten rid of because the post-1911 design did not want antiphons for those spots (ie, at Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Compline, where three psalms are under only one antiphon). So (subtracting 15 from 62) this means that 47 conflicted directly. This means the post-1911 psalter just overtly replaced these 47 even though it didn’t have to and could have used the traditional antiphon for that psalm.

Additionally, 5 that found a “free” spot actually did have a new antiphon crafted from that psalm, just drawn from a different divisi. So while it might technically have filled a different niche if we are talking about every divisi potentially having its own practice these 5 also amount to cases of “replacement” because an antiphon already existed, drawn from those psalms, which could have been used as the header for that psalm/group of divisi, and yet a new one was created instead (albeit a new one drawn from a different section of the psalm; usually earlier in the psalm, but in one cases later). Why this was done in these [47+5=] 52 cases is the most interesting historical question.

Subtracting 15 from 72 additionally tells us that there are 57 psalms/divisi that have never, in either psalter, had an antiphon that "belonged to" them specifically in either of the two psalters. While this is understandable for divisi meant all along to be grouped under one header, it’s a bit more surprising for the whole psalms given that there are 295 antiphons and only 150 psalms (and yet some psalms like 7 and 12 still have never had "their own" antiphon).

The Invitatories for the various days of the week were switched around a bit too, oddly. Specifically, the traditional Invitatory for Sunday was simply discarded, and the (albeit similar) Invitatories from Thursday and Friday were moved to Sunday (the first used Pentecost to September 27, the second used September 28 to November 26). Saturday's traditional Invitatory was then moved to Friday, and then totally new Invitatories were composed for Thursday and Saturday. Wednesday's Invitatory was just entirely replaced. Also it seems that, formerly, the Septuagesima and Lent special Invitatories were only used on Sunday, but after the reform were extended to the whole season. A simple triple alleluia on Paschal Ferias was also discarded. Given that only three Invitatories are truly "new" under the reform, I think it would be easy enough to start from the traditional schema and then find places for the three new constructions, perhaps by including them among the seasonal variations (perhaps by reintroducing the Sunday/Ferial distinction during the special Seasons of Septuagesima, Lent, and Passiontide and making them the Ferial antiphon there rather than simply having the seasonal ferias use the regular per annum invitatory).

The Matins Versicles are more convoluted. Prior to 1911, they had an interesting arrangement. There was a unique "Per Annum" antiphon for each of the three nocturns of Matins on Sunday, and for each Feria, but then there were also special versicles for Advent, Lent, Passiontide, and Paschal. These were the same in the First Nocturn (of Sunday) and Monday and Thursday, and then another set the same in the Second Nocturn (of Sunday) and Tuesday and Friday, and then another set the same in the Third Nocturn (of Sunday) and Wednesday and Saturday. The Ferias then had additional versicles for various classes of feasts (which might remain in the Commons post-1911) that likewise were shared Monday/Thursday, Tuesday/Friday, Wednesday/Saturday: One Martyr, Several Martyrs, Martyrs during Paschaltide, Confessor Bishop, Confessor Non-Bishop, Female Saint. On Monday and Thursday there was only one versicle for Confessors (Bishops and Non-Bishops), and on Saturdays there are no versicles for these various classes possible, but only for the Blessed Virgin Mary.

After 1911, with Matins always having three Nocturns possible, changes were made. For the first two nocturns, totally new per annum and paschal versicles have been created, and these are the only two variations; there is a separate per annum versicle for each nocturn at every weekday, but the paschal versicles are the same every day. For the third nocturn (and all three Nocturns on Sunday), the Advent, Lent, and Passiontide versicle variations remain, and indeed the same as traditional (and according to the same weekday split); the traditional Paschal versicles remain here as well according the traditional weekday split, but only on days of three lessons. On days of 9 lessons, there is a third new paschal versicle (that, like those at the first and second nocturns, is the same every day). Except perhaps when called for from the Commons, the inclusion of the variations based on classes of Saints have been done away with in psalter itself.

While the change regarding the Saints makes sense to me, what is surprising and unnecessary seeming, however, is that even at the third nocturn, the traditional per annum versicles have simply been entirely replaced (except at the first nocturn of Sunday Matins). Given that the post-1911 system has space for three per annum versicles every day, and that all sorts of new ones had to be composed to enable seems bizarre that they wouldn't just integrate the traditional one each day (alongside two new ones) but rather composed three whole new ones. It would be my inclination to include the traditional per annum versicle at the third nocturn each day instead (perhaps the new ones can be integrated by splitting the year in two or putting them at some seasonal time, like making a variation for Septuagesima, though this would require creating another new versicle for the first nocturn of Sunday). The distinction between paschal days of 9 versus 3 lessons also seems unnecessary and I might be inclined to get rid of that and keep the new unvarying third-nocturn 9-lesson paschal versicle only (given that the paschal versicle doesn't vary at the other two nocturns, and that the traditional paschal versicles would still be preserved at the three nocturns of Sunday).

I suspect all these changes to antiphons, invitatories, and versicles may have something to do with Solesmes and the manuscripts they were using for their musicology during the chant "restoration." There was, of course, the Ratisbon antiphonale in three volumes from the late 19th-century, which could be consulted to see the old melodies for these old texts, but they are very rare books, and anyway would not be restored according to Solesmes, which changed the chant in such a way that many melodies were interpreted very differently anyway (NLM had an article about this with "Simile Est" as an example in 2008). Though I'd tend to agree with most people that this musicological restoration by Solesmes was for the better, the arbitrary changes to the traditional Roman antiphonary are disturbing nonetheless.

I do believe that even the Pius X revisions need to be re-examined. While shortening the number of verses said at Matins (especially on Sundays) and getting rid of the repetition at the Little Hours was very necessary...I think the rigid application of these principles to the other hours was unnecessary, and led to a very untraditional weekly cycle of psalms. I have therefore made a suggestion of a "more moderate" reform of the Psalter here that leaves Lauds, Vespers, Compline (and largely Prime) almost completely intact, and reforms only by removing the repetition of psalm 118 at the Little Hours and allowing Matins to be shortened by "over-flowing" into the freed-up space. I've made a partial proposal for the Antiphons with this hypothetical psalter too (though it would probably take a Vatican commission to complete it and figure out how to fill all the blank spaces or use the remaining antiphons) that would incorporate most of the antiphons from both pre- and post-1911 into the psalter.

No comments: