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Balfour Gardiner's Evening Hymn


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Please excuse this rather off-topic query, but this is the most sensible place I know to ask and those with choirs might perhaps be mildly interested.

Balfour Gardiner’s Evening Hymn was published with both English and Latin texts underlaid. The Latin is the ancient Compline hymn Te lucis ante terminum and the English a rhyming translation of this. The anthem is almost invariably sung in Latin, which is odd as the music was obviously framed expressly for the English words. The Latin is a poor fit. Compare the accents on termiNUM and posciMUS with the way that ‘day’ and ‘pray’ help the music forward; ditto the corresponding points in verse 3, where you can throw in ‘reign’ as well. In the second verse the harmonic word-painting fits ‘terrify’, not somnia. There are other similar instances. Throughout the anthem the English text fits like a glove; the traditional Latin looks like it was shoehorned in, presumably to allow the anthem to be performed by Catholic choirs. (It wouldn’t be the only anthem printed in both English and Latin with this aim.) ‘Grove’ tells me that Evening Hymn was composed in 1908. I’m not even sure whether Latin was acceptable in C of E services at that date.* The English must have originated as an alternative to the Latin, but where did it come from? In perusing old hymnals I have come across a few translations of Te lucis ante terminum, but not this one and I have not found it anywhere else either. Was it written especially for the anthem?

* Stanford's three Latin motets were originally non-liturgical; I don't know the background to Wood's Latin motets.

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I wonder which edition you are looking at?

 

The version I have, words in Latin, uses the translation of Te Lucis ante terminum by Pope Urban VIII and, seemingly in my opinion, the music and words fit together well. The English translation, I suspect you have there and I suspect, by the great J. M. Neale might be translation of the original Latin text. I don't know whether Latin was acceptable in the Church of England in 1908 (was it written whilst he was teaching at Winchester? - in which case it may, very well, have been acceptable in a college chapel) but Balfour Gardiner would have known the Urban VII translation rather than the version more normally used to today, the original, re-adopted in the Paul VI Breviary in the 1970's..

 

My version gives phantasmata with the same music ( + the up-beat) as somnia (dreams) - et noctium phantasmata - phantoms (night phantoms).

 

It's not a piece I know - I think I have only heard it performed once and, despite being told that it is a classic piece of the English choral repertoire, I'm not totally convinced - only my opinion, of course.

 

Does that help? I suspect not - but it's a thought!

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Thank you for your thoughts, SL, and my apologies: I assumed that everyone would know the piece. I shouldn't make assumptions!

The first verse of the English text is:

Thee, Lord, before the close of day,
Maker of all things, Thee we pray
For thy dear loving-kindness' sake
To guard and guide us in thy way.

The author is uncredited, but I can't imagine J. M. Neale writing anything this clunky. The words do fit the music, which is what makes me wonder whether they were tailor-made. Neale's translation is in the English hymnal and is one of those beginning "Before the ending of the day".

According to 'Grove', Gardiner was at Winchester for only a term, in 1907. However important Latin then was in public and grammar school education, I do wonder whether it would have been countenanced in the chapel services. It certainly would not have been before the Tractarians and even then I am not sure how long it would have taken to infiltrate Anglican services. Mozart's Ave verum corpus was an extremely popular concert item in the nineteenth century, but I have not been able to find any performances in the C of E until the twentieth. My gut feeling (perhaps misconceived) is that the main catalyst for the acceptance of Latin will have been the editions of Tudor music by Fellowes and others published in the 1920s.

For what it's worth, I don't think 'phantasmata' has quite the same connotations as 'terrify' and, if singing in Latin, the harmonic bolt has already been shot before that word is reached. :)

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The point I was making, probably not very well, was that the edition I have uses the Latin translation of the hymn made by Pope Urban and not the original and that, in my opinion, the Latin fits really rather well. VH said that he thought, in the edition he was looking at, the Latin was 'a poor fit' - which was why I suggested that we were looking at different editions..

 

I would, certainly, agree that the translation quoted is not by Neale and I suspect that you are right in that it is a tailor made translation.

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On 02/10/2016 at 22:00, SL said:

The point I was making, probably not very well, was that the edition I have uses the Latin translation of the hymn made by Pope Urban and not the original and that, in my opinion, the Latin fits really rather well.

 

You are quite right. The Latin set by Gardiner was indeed the revised version by Urban, not the original. I have to disagree that this is a good fit, except that it is in the required metre. In fact I am inclined to think that the original makes a marginally better one, although neither is as natural as the English. Urban's 'PaRAclito' in the last verse sounds particularly ugly (compared to 'our ADvocate'), and 'reGNANS' is less happy than 'whose REIGN'.

Is your edition a commercially published one, SL, or the homemade one available at CPDL? If the former I would be interested to know who published it and whether it is dated.

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Fascinating! I must admit then whenever I conduct this piece with my choir (on a fairly regular basis as the trebles like it so much!), I am often moaned at by the men because I insist on singing it using the English translation rather than the Latin! The only reasons I give is that I like the English, it fits the music well (especially the middle section), and nowhere in the score does it gives the composers preference to the language to use in performance!

We sang it recently in a West Country Cathedral where the Precentor announced it, and continued to give a full translation of the Latin for the benefit of the congregation. It was mildly amusing to see his face when he heard the English in the opening bars of the choral entry!

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  • 3 years later...
On 02/10/2016 at 10:24, S_L said:

I don't know whether Latin was acceptable in the Church of England in 1908 (was it written whilst he was teaching at Winchester? ... )

 

On 02/10/2016 at 17:15, Vox Humana said:

According to 'Grove', Gardiner was at Winchester for only a term, in 1907. However important Latin then was in public and grammar school education, I do wonder whether it would have been countenanced in the chapel services.

This somewhat late post is prompted by hearing a superlative performance in Latin at Lincoln Cathedral just over a week ago.  I can’t offer any thoughts on VH’s original question, but the Winchester connection is surely established by the dedication to Dr Edward Sweeting, Music Master and College Organist from 1901 to 1924.

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2 hours ago, fsharpminor said:

Don't know about the Church of England not approving of Latin in 1908, but at the 1953 coronation there was none; even Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor was sung in an English version.

Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha! sounds like Latin to me.

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I'm still trying to get a feel for how acceptable Latin would have been in the C of E at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Was it even legal outside the Oxbridge universities?

Since my original post I've read Timothy Day's excellent book I Saw Eternity the Other Night.  I thought I remembered reading there something about Latin that hadn't sunk in properly, but I've just had a quick flip through without finding anything specific. I wouldn't mind betting that it was in the universities that the language first began to infiltrate the Anglican choral repertoire. One certain example is Edward Naylor's Vox dicentis, written for King's, Cambridge, in 1911. How unusual or not that was at the time I don't know.  Early Music didn't figure very much there at that time. According to Day, Mann was a committed Romantic without much enthusiasm for Tudor music: Milner-White had to encourage him to include it in the services at King's. Whether any of it was in Latin the author doesn't say.  Ord, on the other hand was different. He was keen to include as much sixteenth-century polyphony as possible in the repertoire, having been enthused by a quartet called The English Singers, who in the 1920s were singing lots of Fellowes's editions, including Latin motets. At King's, Ord introduced several Latin motets by Byrd and music by Palestrina, Victoria and Philips and of course Willcocks kept that flag flying. One of the messages in Day's book that comes across very clearly is how generally poor and resistant to improvement the standard of singing was in cathedral and collegiate choirs until Mann (and then Ord) forged the example to which other choirs felt they had to aspire.  I would guess that it was Ord's tenureship from 1929 that prompted the more general acceptance of Latin in C of E choirs - but of course I'm making lots of assumptions and I know nothing of public school choirs c.1908.

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1 hour ago, innate said:

Vivat Regina, Vivat Regina Elizabetha! sounds like Latin to me.

But that's a slightly special case, isn't it? I believe there was some consternation on the part of the King's Scholars when Parry incorporated their traditional acclamation into his anthem. Previously it had been shouted over whatever else was going on. 

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10 hours ago, fsharpminor said:

Don't know about the Church of England not approving of Latin in 1908, but at the 1953 coronation there was none; even Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor was sung in an English version.

Actually only the Credo and the Sanctus! The Service music was as follows:

Fanfare I  

Anthem ‘I was glad’ :C.H.H.Parry

Fanfares II, III, IV, V

Introit: Behold, O God our Defender*: Herbert Howells

Gradual: Let my prayer come up * : William Harris

The Creed (from G minor mass): Vaughan Williams

Come, Holy Ghost: VIII Mode Melody: arr.Ernest Bullock

Zadok the Priest: Handel

Confortare *: George Dyson

Rejoice in the Lord: John Redford

O clap your hands together: Orlando Gibbons

I will not leave you comfortless: William Byrd

O Lord our Governour *: Healey Willan

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace: S.S.Wesley

Homage fanfare VII founded on Scots tune ‘Montrose’

Hymn: All people that on earth do dwell: arr.Vaughan Williams

Versicles & Responses, Sanctus: Vaughan Williams

O taste and see *: Vaughan Williams

Gloria in Excelsis: Charles Villiers Stanford

Three-fold Amen: Orlando Gibbons

Te Deum *: Walton

Fanfare VIII and God save the Queen: arr.Gordon Jacob

(fanfares I to VII composed by Sir Ernest Bullock) 

* these were First performances!

In addition during the procession of the Regalia:

 Oh most merciful: Charles Wood

Litany for 5 voices: Thomas Tallis 

Not a foreigner in sight!!! And I have a feeling that the music for the next Coronation will be a good deal more eclectic!!!
 

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Isn't history wonderful!  I was present when the 1953 coronation was broadcast live on television, which itself was a rare and expensive novelty what with sets retailing at around £80 at a time when the average working man brought home perhaps £7 per week gross.  The new Sutton Coldfield transmitter had only brought single-channel BBC TV for the first time to the heaving unwashed north of Watford a few years earlier, and we were thus able to enjoy (?) it on a 405-line monochrome 9 inch screen in the largest room my extended family could find in one of their dwellings, so that as many friends and neighbours could squeeze in as possible.  (Nerd alert - even though it was only a few years old, that TV tube was then showing signs of the central bluish ion burn which eventually rendered it useless.  A common problem then before the days of ion trap technology.  However an aunt remarked that it proved that "they were obviously experimenting with colour", bless her).  It was actually great fun from my point of view because of the party atmosphere, though I must admit to having been bored stiff by the broadcast itself, except for some of the music and the sound of the organ emerging from that tiny loudspeaker which even then impressed itself on my juvenile mind.  At junior school we had had the benefit of a special edition of the New Testament handed out to every pupil, as well as a 'Coronation Mug' of the sort which even today still spills off the shelves of the lesser antique shops.  But I'm afraid I can't shed any light on whether Latin was used.  What a philistine I must seem ...

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1 hour ago, Colin Pykett said:

by men I was present when the 1953 coronation was broadcast live on television, which itself was a rare and expensive novelty what with sets retailing at around £80 at a time when the average working man brought home perhaps £7 per week gross.  

Totally off topic but my late wife's father, who was a remarkable man, built a television for them to watch the Coronation!

Wasn't it the Dean, it would have been Dr. Alan Don, who was concerned about the service being televised in case it was watched by men in pubs wearing their hats!!

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On 15/10/2019 at 01:25, Vox Humana said:

I'm still trying to get a feel for how acceptable Latin would have been in the C of E at the beginning of the twentieth century.  Was it even legal outside the Oxbridge universities?

I don’t know what the position was in 1907/8, but this is the current C of E Canon B 42.2 which might provide a possible clue:

2. Authorized forms of service may be said or sung in Latin in the following places -

Provincial Convocations

Chapels and other public places in university colleges and halls

University churches

The colleges of Westminster, Winchester and Eton

Such other places of religious and sound learning as custom allows or the bishop or other the Ordinary may permit

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Thank you, Rowland. I thought there was something in the Book of Common Prayer about this, but all I could find was the passage as old as Edward VI permitting that, when saying Matins or Evensong in private, 'men ... may say the same in any language that they themselves do understand.' A Latin prayer book was actually published in 1560 'for the use and exercise of such students and others learned in the Latin tongue' and Elizabeth commended it to the priesthood for their private devotions, but it was not well received.  I doubt that this is by any means the whole story though.

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VH:  I think we have 'nailed it' - at least from the year 1662!

From the Act of Uniformity of Charles II, 1662:

"XIV. Proviso for reading the Prayers in Latin in Colleges, &c.

"Provided alwaies that it shall and may be lawfull to use the Morning and Evening Prayer and all other Prayers and Service prescribed in and by the said Booke in the Chappells or other publique places of the respective Colledges and Halls in both the Universities in the Colledges of Westminster Winchester and Eaton and in the Convocations of the Clergies of either Province in Latine Any thing in this Act contained to the contrary notwithstanding"

I think this has been repealed in the course of recent law revision (although effectively re-enacted).  I believe we can safely assume that this was the position during Balfour Gardiner's very brief stay in Winchester (Wikipedia incorrectly put him in the Cathedral instead of the College - now corrected).  The same three places of learning are still exclusively singled-out in the current Canons of the C of E, and I think they are listed in the order of of their foundation.  'Evening Hymn' would, I suggest, qualify as an Anthem provided for in "Evening Prayer and all other Prayers and Service" (etc.)
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Excellent work, Rowland. Thank you! I felt sure that there had to be some legal provision to that effect. 

I wonder how much any of these places actually did make use of that permission and, if they did, how often.  When King's sang Naylor's Vox dicentis, was that in the context of a complete Latin Evensong? I'd be surprised, but in those places where the highly educated were fluent in Latin I guess anything is possible.

Nevertheless, whether or not the Latin text in the 'Evening Hymn' was added for Winchester's benefit, I'm still convinced that the anthem was framed for the English text: in this respect the music speaks for itself.  Either way, I would never call it anything other than an anthem. In any case that word was in use well before the Reformation, 'antem' or 'anthem' being the standard vernacular term for antiphon.

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