In the primitive church it was customary to sing a psalm while the people were communicating. It was called 'communio.' The psalm 'O taste and see' was so sung in the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch in the 4th century. In the first edition of the English Prayer Book this custom was ordered to be preserved, but the injunction was afterwards removed.
music written for the latter part, though Marbeck's and Tallis's settings go throughout the service to the end. Marbeck's work embraces a good deal which is not sung now, such as the versicles with which the Post Communion used to begin, and the Lord's Prayer which used to follow them, and now begins the Post Communion, the versicles having been removed. But though the Lord's Prayer is still retained, it is not customary to sing it as used to be done in the Roman and in the early days of the English church. Marbeck's setting of it is to what is called a varied descant, and the chants for the versicles are most of them drawn from old Roman antiphonaria. The Sanctus has been more frequently set than the Gloria in Excelsis, probably because it was, as before mentioned, used out of its proper place while the choir-boys were still in church.
COMPASS, from the Latin compassus, 'a circle,' designates the range of notes of any voice or instrument as lying within the limits of the extreme sounds it is capable of producing.
The compass of the various instruments which are in use in modern music will be found under their respective names; but it may be said generally that it is limited in the direction of the bass, but often varies in the direction of the treble according to the skill of the player, except in instruments of fixed intonation.
The compass of a modern orchestra is generally from about the lowest note of the double basses to about E in altissimo, which can be taken by the violin if properly led up to.
The compass of voices for chorus purposes is from F below the bass stave to A above the treble stave. Solos are not often written above C in alt, except for special singers: as the part of Astrafiammante in Mozart's 'Zauberflöte,' which was written for Josepha Hofer, his sister-in-law, and goes up to F in altissimo. [See Agujari.]The compass of voices varies much in different climates. In Russia there are said to be basses of extraordinary depth, capable of taking the F an 8ve below the bass stave. Basses are not often heard in England who can go below lower C, which is a fifth above that.
COMPÈRE, Loyset, eminent contrapuntist of the 15th century, chorister, canon, and chancellor of the Cathedral of St. Quentin, where he was buried 1518. In Crespel's lament on the death of Okeghem he is mentioned among the distinguished pupils of the latter—
'Agricola, Verbonnet, Prioris,
Josquin des Près, Gaspard, Brumel, Compère,
Ne parlez plus de joyeulx chants, ne ris,
Mais composez un ne ricorderis,
Pour lamenter ndtre maistre et bon père.'
[ M. C. C. ]