Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/128
��the last-named would fall naturally into the following important groups : (i) those which im- mediately precede the Psalms, called also the Preces ; (2) those following the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer ; (3) those following the Lord's Prayer in the Litany ; (4) and the Re- sponses of the first portion of the Litany, which however are of a special musical form which will be fully explained hereafter. Versicles and Responses are either an ancient formula of prayer or praise as, ' Lord, have mercy upon us,' etc., ' Glory be to the Father,' etc., or a quotation from Holy Scripture, as,
V. O Lord, open Thou our lips.
It. And our mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.
which is verse 15 of Psalm li ; or a quotation from a church hymn, as,
V. Lord, save Thy people.
B. And bless Thine inheritance.
which is from the Te Deum ; or an adaptation of a prayer to the special purpose, as,
V. Favourahly with mercy hear our prayers.
B. O Son of David, have mercy upon us.
The musical treatment of such Versicles and Responses offers a wide and interesting field of study. There can be little doubt that all the inflections or cadences to which they are set have been the gradual development of an original monotonal treatment, which in time was found to be uninteresting and tedious (whence our term of contempt 'monotonous'), or was designedly varied for use on special occasions and during holy seasons. At the time of the Reformation the musical system of the Roman Church, with its distinct and elaborate inflections for Orations, Lections, Chapters, Gospels, Epistles, Antiphons, Introits, etc., etc. [see the article n PLAIN- SONG], was completely overthrown, and out of the wreck only a few of the most simple cadences were preserved. Even the response ' Alleluia ' was sometimes extended to a considerable length : here is a specimen
��The word ' Alleluia' is found as a Response in the Prayer-book of 1549, for use between Easter and Trinity, immediately before the Psalms ; during the remainder of the year the translation of the word was used. Here is Marbecke's music for it (1550) :
��Prayse ye the Lorde
When this was in later editions converted into a Versicle and Response, as in our present Prayer-book, the music was, according to some uses, divided between the Versicle and Response, thus,
��V. Praise ye the Lord. B. The Lord's name be praised.
But as a matter of fact these ' Preces ' in our Prayer-book which precede the daily Psalms
have never been strictly bound by the laws of ' ecclesiastical chant,' hence, not only are great varieties of plain-song settings to be met with, gathered from Roman and other uses, but also actual settings in service -form (that is, like a motet), containing contrapuntal devices in four or more parts. Nearly all the best cathedral libraries contain old examples of this elaborate treatment of the Preces, and several have been printed by Dr. Jebb in his ' Choral Responses.'
As then the Preces are somewhat exceptional, we will pass to the more regular Versicles and Responses, such as those after the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer. And here we at once meet the final 'fall of a minor third,' which is an ancient form of inflection known as the Accentus Medialis :
��This is one of the most characteristic progres- sions in plain-song versicles, responses, con- fessions, etc., and was actually introduced by Marbecke into the closing sentences of the Lord's Prayer. It must have already struck the reader that this is nothing more or less than the ' note ' of the cuckoo. This fact was probably in Shake- spere's mind when he wrote,
The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The plain-sovg cuckoo gray.
This medial accent is only used in Versicles and Responses when the last word is a poly- syllable ; thus
��B. And grant us Thy sal va - tlon
When the last word is a monosyllable, there is an additional note, thus
��JZ. As we do put our trust in Thee.
This may be said to be the only law of the Accentus Ecclesiaaticus which the tradition of our Reformed Church enforces. It is strictly observed in most of our cathedrals, and considering its remarkable simplicity, should never be broken. The word ' prayers ' was formerly pronounced as a dissyllable ; it therefore took the medial accent thus
��Favourably with mercy hear our pray-ers.
but as a monosyllable it should of course be treated thus
��* Favourably with mercy hear our prayers.
In comparing our Versicles and Responses with the Latin from which they were translated, it is important to bear this rule as to the ' final word' in mind. Because, the Latin and English of the