Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 405 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Justin, and he writes:
Hi Vidas and Ausra,
Greetings from Australia.
I’m wondering if you know of any settings of the psalms for liturgical use in Lithuanian? Ideally I’m looking for the responsorial psalms for Sundays only for all three years.
I would be grateful for any advice you may have.
V: It appears, Ausra, that Justin is interested in knowing more about Lithuanian psalms. Right? What we sing in churches, and how it is that we do it.
A: Well, because Lithuania is mostly a Catholic country, one psalm is required for each Mass.
V: Right. I was checking with our friend Paulius, who is the organist of St. Joseph Church here in Vilnius, if he knows of any collections of responsorial psalms, but, there seems to be a lack of such systematization in Lithuania, and what he does is he creates his own. So, Ausra, if you had to sing your psalm tune today—you went to the mass, and you found a text of the Psalm, and you had to figure out a melody, what would you do?
A: I would use those eight psalm tunes. But for a refrain, I would just use maybe one phrase from that psalm tune, or something in that mode.
V: Something like the notes of the mode?
A: Yes, something that would be easy for people to repeat, to remember.
V: I’d do the same, but sometimes I tend to repeat myself, and it’s kind of boring, too. So….
A: Well, you know, if I may say so, during psalms, not the melody is the most important thing, but the words! So, whatever. You can sing them on one single note, and it would be still okay, because it’s recited text, actually.
V: What if the Psalms, when, for example the cantor alone sings, is on mostly repeated notes, like in psalm tone, but the refrain is more or less fluid without too many repeated notes. Is it better?
A: Well, it might be difficult for the congregation to respond if the refrain is very elaborated. Because, I do have a very good musical memory, but sometimes the cantor picks up a very interesting refrain; even for me, it’s too hard to follow, and I remember it right after maybe three or four repetitions, you know, maybe at the last response of that psalm. But it needs to be memorable, that you would be able to remember it right away, after one repetition.
V: You’re right. And I would probably use the notes of the mode or the psalm tone, and start and end on the first note of the mode, so that people would know where the so-called tonic pitch is.
A: Do you remember that old Senkus book….
A: Hymnal, yes. I think he had quite a few hymns based on Psalms, basically.
V: That’s right, I remember that. So, Senkus was a musically trained priest, who created two editions of his hymnal, and he composed his own refrains of the Psalms, too. So anybody with some training and musical knowledge in their own way, not only in Lithuanian, but in their own language too.
V: So guys, we hope this was useful. Please experiment with your psalm tones, and let us know how it goes. And, please keep sending us your wonderful questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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