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Dafydd y Garreg Wen

Festal responses

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A question for a another thread really, but one that I have wondered about, is are there (a) from the earlier period any responses later than Ebdon, or (b) from the twentieth-century revival any earlier than Rose? (Excluding local variants on the ferial responses - Durham, Norwich, Canterbury, etc.)

A related question (pair of questions) would be: when did choirs stop singing festal responses (other than the ubiquitous Tallis), and when did they start again?

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Yes, this would have been worth a separate thread. :)

To answer your second question first, I would guess that choirs stopped singing festal responses when Oliver Cromwell put an end to cathedral services. What happened at the restoration I don't know. Maybe the practice was revived, but the only late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century settings I know are those by Richard Ayleward, Reading and Ebdon.

So far as I can gather, during the nineteenth century only two settings of the responses were sung: Ferial and Tallis, the latter being sung on festivals. That is actually a slight simplification since there were at least nineteen different editions of Tallis's "festal" responses and there are very significant differences between several of them, which are not confined to the argument about whether they were originally in four or five parts. George Elvey, for example, published a four-part edition which has prompted one commentator to wonder why on earth he ever put Tallis's name to it. A different version of these remained in use at St George's, Windsor under the title "Windsor Use" until Christopher Robinson arrived there. They are no great loss. In the nineteenth century Tallis's music (but actually only his Responses, Litany, the so-called Dorian Service and If ye love me) was held to be the ideal model for sober, devout church music and all sorts of concoctions were irresponsibly foisted upon him, including Anglican chants and even in one instance a standard, two-chord, plagal Amen! Tallis's responses were a standard fixture at all large choral services and festivals in the nineteenth century.

I think the renewed interest in settings of the responses must have arisen with the publication of the Fellowes/Atkins edition of the Tudor settings in the 1930s. In fact John Jebb had already published them all, except Morley's, in the mid nineteenth century, but they seem not to have caught on. I had a quick browse through the early Choral Evensong listings on BBC Genome Project. Composers for the responses do not begin to be credited until the 1940s and then it is just the familiar Elizabethan settings (including Tallis), apart from occasional references to "Westminster Use", "Bristol Use", or, in the case of Durham, Philip Armes. At Christ Church, Woburn Square, London in 1948-9 Michael Howard performed preces by Gibbons and by Thomas Hunt together with the Westminster Use responses after the Creed (because neither composer provided those). The first sign of anything more out of the ordinary (if indeed it was since I don't know the setting) was in March 1949 when Lancaster Priory, under Alan Stephenson, broadcast a set of responses supposedly by "Hylton Stewart". In fact these seem likely to be the same as the set Lancaster broadcast the following December when Henry Walmsley attributed them - surely correctly? - to [Haldane] Campbell Stewart (the perennial confusion between H. C Stewart and C. H. Stewart) - and I assume in turn that these were the preces and responses by "Stewart" that Bernard Rose broadcast from H. C. Stewart's old stamping ground, Magdalen College, in February 1962. So, unless the Stewart setting is anything special it may well be that Rose's 1961 set is the first modern-style setting of the responses.

 

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Thank you V.H. for the detailed response (pun not intended), especially the helpful B.B.C. research, which tends to confirm what I too had thought, namely that the Fellowes/Atkins edition led to the revival of festal responses. As you say, Jebb's publication seems to have remained of purely academic interest.

It would be interesting to see what the Stewart responses amount to. Possibly Rose wrote his because he felt he could do a better job!

The existence of post-Restoration examples implies that the custom must have revived to some extent. Three settings is not a large number, but the pre-Commonwealth total is not very large either! (Or are there hidden gems lurking in various libraries?)

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A brief review in the Musical Times for December 1933 (p.1100) states:

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In accordance with a resolution passed at the annual meeting of the Cathedral Organists' Association in 1932 comes the issue of Six Settings of the Preces and Responses by Tudor composers, edited by Ivor Atkins and Edmund H. Fellowes

It would be useful to know what the resolution was, and why it was passed. A sign of an appetite for more varied fare than ferial versions and Tallis Festal??

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1 hour ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

It would be interesting to see what the Stewart responses amount to. Possibly Rose wrote his because he felt he could do a better job!

Not a lot, in my opinion, they are fairly uninteresting, certainly compared to many later sets (Clucas, Rose, Shephard, Leighton, Radcliffe, Walsh etc). I'm not sure if they are in print but they are in the repertoire at St Mary's, Nottingham. An oddity is that no Amen is provided for the collects - the practice at St M's is to use the last two chords of the final response, which does make quite a satisfying resolution.

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St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, had a set which they used all the time - pretty boring stuff in my opinion, but quite well-known in the Church of Ireland through having appeared in festival service books.

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It would be interesting to see what the Stewart responses amount to. Possibly Rose wrote his because he felt he could do a better job!

Could well be! :D

3 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

A brief review in the Musical Times for December 1933 (p.1100) states:

"In accordance with a resolution passed at the annual meeting of the Cathedral Organists' Association in 1932 comes the issue of Six Settings of the Preces and Responses by Tudor composers, edited by Ivor Atkins and Edmund H. Fellowes"

It would be useful to know what the resolution was, and why it was passed. A sign of an appetite for more varied fare than ferial versions and Tallis Festal??

How interesting. I wonder whether the COA funded the research. I would lay odds that Fellowes rather than Atkins was the driver behind this.

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2 hours ago, Philip said:

Not a lot, in my opinion, they are fairly uninteresting, certainly compared to many later sets (Clucas, Rose, Shephard, Leighton, Radcliffe, Walsh etc). I'm not sure if they are in print but they are in the repertoire at St Mary's, Nottingham. An oddity is that no Amen is provided for the collects - the practice at St M's is to use the last two chords of the final response, which does make quite a satisfying resolution.

Thank you very much indeed for that, Philip. That's most helpful and, I'm afraid, exactly what I suspected.

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5 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

The existence of post-Restoration examples implies that the custom must have revived to some extent. Three settings is not a large number, but the pre-Commonwealth total is not very large either! (Or are there hidden gems lurking in various libraries?)

One should never say never! However I think it is probably safe to say that all early manuscripts have been well plundered by musicologists and if there were any other Restoration settings we would know about them. 

The extended "Tudor" period is well covered here and  here, from which lists I note that there are some responses by George Jeffreys, whose career spanned the interregnum. Jeffreys was a first-rate composer, so I wonder what they are like?

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19 hours ago, Philip said:

Not a lot, in my opinion, they are fairly uninteresting, certainly compared to many later sets (Clucas, Rose, Shephard, Leighton, Radcliffe, Walsh etc). I'm not sure if they are in print but they are in the repertoire at St Mary's, Nottingham. An oddity is that no Amen is provided for the collects - the practice at St M's is to use the last two chords of the final response, which does make quite a satisfying resolution.

Thank you for the confirmation that they do exist, but aren't very interesting. The first swallow, but a dull one compared with the ones of the summer that followed, perhaps?

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16 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

One should never say never! However I think it is probably safe to say that all early manuscripts have been well plundered by musicologists and if there were any other Restoration settings we would know about them. 

Yes (alas) unless there are manuscripts that got into odd places (e.g. country house libraries, foreign libraries) and have never since seen the light of day.

16 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

The extended "Tudor" period is well covered here and  here, from which lists I note that there are some responses by George Jeffreys, whose career spanned the interregnum. Jeffreys was a first-rate composer, so I wonder what they are like?

How intriguing. It would be nice to have a different "early" set for a change!

These lists tend to confirm a suspicion I had from looking into Smith of Durham: "festal" responses often occur alongside festal psalms, which rather suggests that they were festal in the same sense, and thus intended for performance with them on great feasts only (Easter, Whit, etc.).

This would explain why there aren't that many of them. If you only sang them on a few occasions in the year you wouldn't need (or even want) a large repertoire.

May also explain why they dropped out of use. If they were seen as companions to festal psalms, then when festal psalms went out of fashion they would naturally go out with them.

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Having done some more homework I find that my information was incomplete; I had forgotten to check the files in my basement. Rose's was by no means the first of the latter-day settings, although it might still have been the first of significance. A set by one Charles Westoby was published in 1901. 1926 saw the publication of another by E. S. White, the Organist and Choirmaster of Great Warley parish church. Then in 1940 came one by Clifford Richardson. Harry Moreton also wrote a set for his choir at St Andrew's, Plymouth.* The publication is undated but he must have written them before 1958 when he retired and very probably much earlier (the engraving looks older). All of these are very uncomplicated settings. Moreton's are almost as uninteresting as Elvey's, Richardson's didn't grab me either, but the other two are better although I doubt anyone would rush to schedule them today. In 1960 Sidney Campbell published his arrangement of the "Canterbury Use" responses. These are not too far removed from the ferial ones and again are set very plainly. They are interesting because they include a long and typically idiosyncratic note by Campbell, perhaps intended for parish church organists, which reads almost as if he thought he was being innovative: "Numerous choirmasters and clergymen will no doubt raise horrified eyebrows at the appearance of these Responses. Not only do they defy well-intentioned attempts to establish a uniform setting for all churches in this country and indeed farther afield; by employing musical note-values, they contradict the opinion that certain parts of a service should be sung in 'speech-rhythm.' ... There are in Jebb's Choral Responses,  settings peculiar to most British Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches. The Bristol Use is frequently heard: the Norwich Use has perhaps never been dropped: the Westminster Responses are sung at Ely. The Canterbury Use is sung regularly alongside the more elaborate settings of Tudor composers. It is sometimes unaccompanied, sometimes doubled by the organ and sometimes freely accompanied..."

* A propos what I said previously about all sorts of things getting attributed to Tallis, by coincidence today I was given a manuscript book of Moreton's. It includes harmonisations of both the "Ferial Responses" and "Festal Responses", both of which Moreton attributed to Tallis!

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So it appears that most foundations had their own Use, or at least their own variant.  The Dublin set would accord with that - presumably they are in Jebb (I've never looked), unless they post-date him and are by someone like Sir Robert Stewart (who taught Stanford).  Jebb was a Prebendary of Limerick. I wonder if they had their own Use also.  A lot of Irish cathedrals maintained a choral foundation of some sort until the Disestablishment in 1871. Upon reflection, it seems logical that there were settings peculiar to individual foundations, since the sharing of them would be difficult unless they were published in some collection like Boyce's or, indeed, Jebb's.  I suppose a modern parallel is to be found in these computer-savvy days in the fact that most foundations have their own pointing for the psalms!

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1 hour ago, Vox Humana said:

Having done some more homework I find that my information was incomplete; I had forgotten to check the files in my basement. Rose's was by no means the first of the latter-day settings, although it might still have been the first of significance. A set by one Charles Westoby was published in 1901. 1926 saw the publication of another by E. S. White, the Organist and Choirmaster of Great Warley parish church. Then in 1940 came one by Clifford Richardson. Harry Moreton also wrote a set for his choir at St Andrew's, Plymouth.* The publication is undated but he must have written them before 1958 when he retired and very probably much earlier (the engraving looks older). All of these are very uncomplicated settings. Moreton's are almost as uninteresting as Elvey's, Richardson's didn't grab me either, but the other two are better although I doubt anyone would rush to schedule them today. In 1960 Sidney Campbell published his arrangement of the "Canterbury Use" responses. These are not too far removed from the ferial ones and again are set very plainly. They are interesting because they include a long and typically idiosyncratic note by Campbell, perhaps intended for parish church organists, which reads almost as if he thought he was being innovative: "Numerous choirmasters and clergymen will no doubt raise horrified eyebrows at the appearance of these Responses. Not only do they defy well-intentioned attempts to establish a uniform setting for all churches in this country and indeed farther afield; by employing musical note-values, they contradict the opinion that certain parts of a service should be sung in 'speech-rhythm.' ... There are in Jebb's Choral Responses,  settings peculiar to most British Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches. The Bristol Use is frequently heard: the Norwich Use has perhaps never been dropped: the Westminster Responses are sung at Ely. The Canterbury Use is sung regularly alongside the more elaborate settings of Tudor composers. It is sometimes unaccompanied, sometimes doubled by the organ and sometimes freely accompanied..."

* A propos what I said previously about all sorts of things getting attributed to Tallis, by coincidence today I was given a manuscript book of Moreton's. It includes harmonisations of both the "Ferial Responses" and "Festal Responses", both of which Moreton attributed to Tallis!

Aha! So the first swallows were earlier than we thought. Fascinating.

To sum up, it looks as if from the beginning of the twentieth people were beginning to find the typical diet of ferial (in its various guises) and Tallis Festal unsatisfactory, even though the first stabs at something better were unambitious (not surprising when people were used to such unambitious fare). Possibly it was the Fellowes/Atkins publication that made composers raise their game (even if it did take nearly thirty years before Rose's responses were published)

I know Campbell's Canterbury Use all too well. Presumably when he refers to being sung "alongside the more elaborate settings of Tudor composers" he means the latter as revived post-Fellowes/Atkins, not that they had miraculaouly continued in use at Canterbury since the sixteenth/seventeenth centuries.

I imagine that his animadversions on "speech rhythm" were intended to be not so much innovative as revisionist: i.e. "Bridges' ideas may have won widespread acceptance, but he was barking up the wrong tree". Whatever the merits of speech rhythm, historically speaking Campbell was no doubt correct: you have to go a long way back (well before the sixteenth century) to get anything like it, but that would be a matter for (yet another) thread ....

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4 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

I know Campbell's Canterbury Use all too well. Presumably when he refers to being sung "alongside the more elaborate settings of Tudor composers" he means the latter as revived post-Fellowes/Atkins, not that they had miraculaouly continued in use at Canterbury since the sixteenth/seventeenth centuries.

Yes, I think that's what he meant.

I was tempted to quote more of Campbell's introduction, but feared it might send my remaining reader to sleep!  Clearly he didn't like people trying to sing in the rhythm of "conversational English" and deplored the excision of passing notes in Anglican chants. Whether he was still advocating the old measured style of chanting he doesn't say. If he was, he must have changed his mind on going to Windsor, for only a couple of years later he broadcast a Choral Evensong from there in which the chanting is most definitely speech-rhythm (it's on YouTube); however, he still thought omitting passing notes was wrong.

I'm glad you brought this subject up. I hadn't previously appreciated how innovative Rose's responses must have been. Their publication certainly seems to have opened the floodgates, for a number of other settings were published hard on its heels. What we don't know is when any of these sets were actually written: they might have been in use in manuscript for some time previously - but if so, they didn't feature in broadcast Evensongs.

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13 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

I'm glad you brought this subject up. I hadn't previously appreciated how innovative Rose's responses must have been. Their publication certainly seems to have opened the floodgates, for a number of other settings were published hard on its heels. What we don't know is when any of these sets were actually written: they might have been in use in manuscript for some time previously - but if so, they didn't feature in broadcast Evensongs.

Yes, to all of those points!

If Cambridge legend is correct and Clucas composed his responses on a King's choir tour, they could have been inspired by the recently published Rose ones, but equally King's might have had MS copies already. At any rate Clucas' setting was published pretty sharpish. I was hoping to find a nice review that might have given some background, but all I can find is a brief note in the Muscial Times saying that they had been published.

On-line service lists for King's only go back to 1999, though there is a note saying:

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For information about older service booklets please contact the College Archive Centre

 

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On 2/8/2018 at 01:29, Vox Humana said:

The extended "Tudor" period is well covered here and  here, from which lists I note that there are some responses by George Jeffreys, whose career spanned the interregnum. Jeffreys was a first-rate composer, so I wonder what they are like?

According to an article by Peter Aston (Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 99, 1972 - 1973):

"Lastly, there are the liturgical works.
 These comprise a morning and an evening Service, an English
 Gloria 'composed at Mr. Peter Gunning's motion', and a
 Gloria and responses for the Communion Service. These
 liturgical pieces contain little of interest. All of them show
 signs of haste, and it is evident that Jeffreys approached these
 purely functional settings with little enthusiasm."

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Regarding Clucas, he states in his autobiography that his Responses were composed for a competition arranged by David Willcocks (a previous one was for a Jubilate which I think was won by Simon Preston) and that as the deadline approached he was torn between finishing them and going punting.  He says that Willcocks was both surprised and pleased at the result and arranged for Oxford to publish the set.

Forgive the lack of precision in the above.  I'm in Kirkwall right now - playing for my father-in-law's funeral in St. Magnus Cathedral tomorrow - and so not able to refer to the actual volume in question!

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On 20 February 2018 at 07:28, Richard Fairhurst said:

According to an article by Peter Aston (Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, Vol. 99, 1972 - 1973):

"Lastly, there are the liturgical works.
 These comprise a morning and an evening Service, an English
 Gloria 'composed at Mr. Peter Gunning's motion', and a
 Gloria and responses for the Communion Service. These
 liturgical pieces contain little of interest. All of them show
 signs of haste, and it is evident that Jeffreys approached these
 purely functional settings with little enthusiasm."

Thank you, Richard!

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