New Improved Way-of-Beauty Psalm Tones - Sarum Psalm Tones for the Vernacular

Plus progress report on where they are being used, from New Hampshire, Britain and Australia! Just to let those who have been using the psalm tones that I have been steadily improving and adding and the latest version of the tones is up. Go to the Psalm Tones page on this blog!

Not only can any tone be used with any psalm which is pointed in the pointing system I have developed (which means if you know just one tone you can sing the whole psalter); but now I have worked out a system that allows you to distinguish systematically when a syllable can take  more than one note. This allows for more complex tones, in addition to the previous simple ones which are still there, which just like the simple ones can be sung to any psalm if you know how to point it (and it takes five minutes to learn from. The most ornate in each mode is reserved for the singing of the gospel canticle. We are talking neums and melismas! If you don't know what any of these means, then put simply there are more twiddly bits.

Since I first start to post these up, things have developed. First Notre Dame University approached me and asked me to write a piece for their sacred music blog. When this appeared Adam Bartlett at the Chant Cafe decided to run it. As a result of that Monastic Musician, a British academic publication devoted to chant asked to reprint the article too. I have been contacted by one person who wanted to build a phone app that contained the tones. Perhaps most gratifyingly, I was contacted by a nun at a cloistered Carmelite convent in Australia. They were looking to sing the Office after reciting it for 40 years and wanted advice on how to introduce these tones into their liturgy.

This summer, the Knights of Columbus of New Hampshire approached me. They want to organise a statewide event at a mountain State Park in northern NH on Saturday, October 4th. The Bishop of Manchester, Bishop Lebasci will be present. I was asked if my friend, Dr Tom Larson and I would lead the Knights in singing Lauds in the vernacular using these psalm tones and the harmonized versions arranged by Paul Jernberg. One of the Knights had been coming to sing with us at the VA Hospital in Manchester, NH where we sing Vespers on alternate Mondays during the academic year.

So go to the page marked Psalm Tones and download the updated music, listen to the recordings and watch the video that teaches you how to point any text so that all these psalm tones will fit it. The more complex ones will need a bit of interpretative skill to make them sound really good, but I still think that this is something that can be picked up easily. If you want help then contact me...I will even sing down the phone to demonstrate!

Just to remind you, here is the article as it first appeared in the Chant Cafe......

I post it first as a pdf that you can download because the music scores will not be readable otherwise.

pdf here:  English psalm tones for Chant Cafe