Here's another version of the chant by Hylton Stewart that I mentioned in my previous post.
This version comes from The Anglican Chant Psalter from Church Publishing. In this Psalter it does accompany Psalm 39, which is heard in this week's webcast from St. John's, Cambridge.
You'll notice a marked difference in the partwriting between this version and the one posted previously from The New St. Paul's Cathedral Psalter (now available as The Anglican Psalter): in the penultimate bar the bass and tenor parts are inverted.
It's a subtle difference, but I think I prefer the lower, darker part writing for this chant -- especially for its pairing with Psalm 39.
These verses in particular seem to fit the aching, evolving emotion inherent in this chant.
LORD, let me know mine end, and the number of my days; * that I may be certified how long I have to live. Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long, and mine age is even as nothing in respect of thee; * and verily every man living is altogether vanity. For man walketh in a vain shadow, and disquieteth himself in vain; * he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them. And now, Lord, what is my hope? * truly my hope is even in thee.
There's something wonderfully simple and effective about the initial motion in each quarter of the chant's construction.
In the first quarter: rising by a half step, falling by a fourth.
In the second quarter: rising by a fourth, and rising by a whole step.
In the third quarter begins in the relative major with the reciting note on the B♭, the fifth of the E♭ Major chord.
In the third quarter: rising by a minor third, falling by a half step.
In the fourth quarter: rising by a minor third, falling by a whole step.
The rise of only a minor third in the relative major yeilds D♭, a "blue" note. It's a ♭VII in the relative major, but how do you analyze a D♭ major chord in G minor? You really can't get any farther away. Wacky.
Looking at the intervals, and the direction of the pitch contour, there are some interesting patterns here that I think our minds perceive on some level.
The truly heartbreaking moment, for me, is in the last quarter, when the rise of a minor third reaches only the terminating note of the third quarter (and in that delicious 4-3 suspension, no less).
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