Singing the Office at Home

Does anyone know of any resources to sing the LotH at home? I have a pretty terrible singing voice and can’t follow Gregorian notation to save my life. I’m looking for a really simple arrangement, maybe just for Compline or Lauds- the two hours I pray with regularity. A CD might be helpful, too. I could listen to it on the way to work until it made sense.

Any help is appreciated.

Try singing the psalms “in directum”. It’s a very simple melody:

The flex would be

Do-do-do-do-(si) si

The mediant would be

Do-do-do-do-si-la-do-(do)

The finale is

Do-do-do-do-do.

You could sing the antiphon directly recto-tono: Do-do-do-do-do…

Underlined note is the accent (if using Latin), in brackets the “white” note in Chant notation (the extra note when there are two syllables after the Latin accent).

For the hymns, use octosyllabic hymns if at all possible, even in Latin it would be relatively easy to sing them, but I think Christian Prayer also has a few that are appropriate to each hour in English. If you use Latin, Liber Hymnarius has all the Latin hymns for the divine office. Most of the simple ones for ordinary days are octosyllabic.

Then you can use one of the very simple melodies for example the melody for little hours on weekdays. Each stanza is made up of four 8-syllable verses:

La-La-La-La-La-La-Sol-Sol
La-La-La-La-Sol-La-La-La
La-La-La-Sol-Fa-Sol-Fa-Mi
Fa-Sol-Sol-Sol-Fa-La-Sol-Sol

(I think I got it right!)

Gregorian notation is actually very easy, I find it easier than normal notation, but that’s just me. But I bet 20 minutes with someone who knows it would set you straight.

If you do the Office in Latin and want to go all the way for Gregorian chant, the community of Saint Martin has a CD in MP3 format that includes the first stanzas of all the hymns, all the antiphons, and the first verses of all the psalms (to get the psalm mode right):

Les Heures Grégoriennes CD (sorry link is in French only)

The books themselves (the antiphonary to chant the entire daytime office in Latin) is now through its first printing, they’re taking manifestations of interest for a second edition:

Gregorian Hours

Seth Murray at Rosary Shop has a nice tutorial (prayer.rosaryshop.com/). I believe the pdf includes audio clips of the chant. Very nicely done.

Really, you don’t have to sing it a particular way if you’re praying privately. Perhaps listen to a little chant, then use a similar series of tones when you pray. Simple chant intones most syllables on a single tone with the last syllable or two moving and resolving.

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