Apostle of Ireland
Medieval Irish Plainchant · An Office for St. Patrick



Divine Art DDA25065

St Mary's Parish Church, Haddington, East Lothian
22-24 October 2007

First Vespers

1 - Hymn Ecce fulget clarissima (part 1)   [3:25]
2 - Antiphon 1 Veneranda imminentis   [1:14]
3 - Antiphon 2 Altare lapideum   [0:32]
4 - Antiphon 3 Signo crucis edito   [0:33]
5 - Antiphon 4 Aqua suis precibus   [0:35]
6 - Antiphon 5 Collectis fragminibus   [0:39]
7 - Responsory Magni patris sunt Miranda – Prosa Mente munda letabunda   [5:13]
8 - Hymn Exultent filii matris ecclesie   [3:22]
9 - Magnificat Antiphon Christi puer capitur   [0:50]
10 - Magnificat Antiphon Sis pro nobis sancte Patrici   [1:01]


11 - Invitatory Laudemus regem – Venite   [8:19]
12 - Hymn Ecce fulget clarissima (part 2: Ad hanc doctor egregius)   [3:14]
13 - Antiphon 1 Servus Christi Patricius   [0:31]
14 - Antiphon 2 Oritur vir beatus   [0:26]
15 - Antiphon 3 Dum baptismo   [0:45]
16 - Responsory 1 Egregius Christi miles   [3:26]
17 - Responsory 2 Hic nutritus a puericia   [3:10]
18 - Responsory 3 Dum baptizandus   [5:44]
19 - Antiphon 4 Nam cum cecus   [0:40]
20 - Antiphon 5 Hic incursu piratico   [0:31]
21 - Antiphon 6 Ducitur servus Christi   [0:44]
22 - Responsory 4 Hic iuvenis evo   [2:16]
23 - Responsory 5 Igitur servus Christi   [2:58]
24 - Responsory 6 Quodam autem   [3:43]
25 - Antiphon 7 Peracto iam sub servitute barbarica   [0:40]
26 - Antiphon 8 Liberatus autem   [0:37]
27 - Antiphon 9 Hunc beatus Germanus   [0:34]
28 - Responsory 7 Ductu angelico   [3:18]
29 - Responsory 8 Celestinus apostolicam tunc rexerat arcem   [2:15]
30 - Responsory 9 Pontificali infula   [3:35]


31 - Antiphon 1 Beatus Patricius Scociam ingressus   [0:41]
32 - Antiphon 2 Iubilemus puro corde Christo   [0:26]
33 - Antiphon 3 Ut nos Deus   [0:32]
34 - Antiphon 4 Cuncta celi terreque creatura   [0:30]
35 - Antiphon 5 Laus et honor resonet   [0:40]
36 - Hymn Iesu corona presulum   [2:37]
37 - Antiphon Benedictus sit Dominus – Benedictus   [4:43]

Second Vespers

38 - Antiphon Gemma sacerdotum – Magnificat   [3:01]

Trinity College, Dublin, MSS 79 & 80


Rebecca Tavener

Micaela Haslam • voice
Anne Lewis • voice
Rebecca Tavener • voice
Joanne Wicks • voice
William Taylor • wire-strung clàrsach (#1, 7, 8, 12, 16-18, 22-24, 28-30, 36)

Apostle of Ireland

Every year on 17th March half the world seems to become Irish, even if just for a moment, as the Hibernian diaspora plus innumerable legions of hangers-on celebrates St Patrick's Day. For a high proportion of revellers this will not involve any religious observance and may simply entail imbibing a pint of Guinness, wearing something green and singing a sentimental song or two – it is, after all, a great excuse to enjoy the fruits of a rich culture that may or may not be one's own, and a fine opportunity for fun. St Patrick's Day and all the traditions, sacred and secular, that have become attached to it is the focus for international Irish-ness, and a marvellous way for a small nation with a long historical reach to remind the world of its significance.

But who was the real Patrick? The legend of his life is caparisoned in the brightly bejewelled habiliments of myth, sometimes so coruscating that they obscure the historical figure beneath, and there are many things told of him for which we shall never find historical proof. Our recording is, therefore, a snap-shot in time, showing what people believed of the saint at the moment these medieval texts were written.

There are some things we can say for sure about St Patrick, however, and we should begin with the fact that he was not actually Irish. We know that he was born possibly in 387 in Britain and that his family were respected members of a settlement that was organised in the Roman way, and that his father was a decurion – a title which implied administrative status and responsibility rather than military rank. The name of his birthplace cannot be linked to a particular settlement with any certainty, but it must have been somewhere that was prey to the incursion of Irish pirates, leading to the speculation that it could have been close to the mouth of the Severn. There is a tradition enshrined in the modern place-name 'Kilpatrick', however, that the saint came from a town close to Dumbarton on the Clyde. As a Scottish ensemble we are understandably keen to claim Patrick for Caledonia, and those who aver that he could not come from Scotland because of the assumption that Roman Britain was contained south of Hadrian's Wall are surely turning a blind eye to the existence of the Antonin Wall, some miles north of Glasgow, and evidence of other Roman structures in the region.

When Patrick was an adolescent he was abducted by Irish pirates, along with many others, and for the next six years worked as a slave tending animals for his new master Miliuc, probably near Mount Sleamish in Co. Antrim. Around the age of twenty-two, Patrick managed to escape this onerous captivity, making a difficult cross-country journey to a major port, probably Wexford, where he joined the crew of a vessel transporting hounds to the continent, the most likely destination being Armorica (Brittany). After this he appears to have wandered in France for some time, enduring numerous difficulties before returning to Britain. It was after his return to the family home that he began to express a vocation for missionary work in Ireland.

In spite of objections from his family, Patrick once again left home, this time voluntarily, to begin his training. It is not certain where he went to study, but there is evidence that this may have been at the island monastery of Lerins, just off the modern-day Riviera coastline, and after that at Auxerre, from where he finally received his appointment to serve in Ireland. It has also been suggested that he may have studied at the monastery of St Martin in Tours. It is at this point that the Patrick legends tend to become confused with the story of Palladius, an earlier missionary ordained by Pope Celestine and sent to Ireland in 431 to counter the Pelagian heresy then sweeping across Europe. Palladius died, possibly martyred, not long after, and Patrick appears to have heard of his death while he, too, was journeying to Ireland to take up his own missionary work in 432. Patrick was probably consecrated a bishop by Germanus of Auxerre rather than by the Pope himself.

Patrick's landing in Ireland may have been either near Wicklow or Dublin, after which he seems to have travelled north to Antrim, beginning his work near Saul. Having met with initial success by converting the local chieftain, Dichu, he built his first church at Saul (Saballinum). He was disappointed, however, by his failure to persuade his original master Miliuc to give up his pagan ways. His missionary work is recorded in various accounts, ancient and modern, and in his own writings, most particularly his Confessio, and it is here that we find evidence of the difficulties and dangers he and his companions faced. He states, for example, that they were seized and carried off as captives on twelve occasions and that his death was decreed in the course of one of those kidnappings.

In spite of high levels of antagonism, Patrick did not slacken his work, targeting converts from the ruling classes who inevitably brought their people with them, and using the existing social structure as a basis on which to establish a Christian society. In 439 more bishops were sent to assist him, and his work developed a seemingly unstoppable momentum as Patrick appointed sees, eventually choosing Armagh for himself. Patrick ordained many clergy, favouring a secular rather than monastic system, and appears to have had a talent for organisation. His establishment of sees based on existing civil divisions meant that Ireland's church did not become mainly monastic until some time after his death.

His piety is the stuff of legend, involving mortification of the flesh and long hours spent in prayer or studying scripture. He is supposed to have knelt in the freezing water of the river near Saul each day whilst reciting all 150 Psalms, for example, and lain down to rest unclothed on a stone when the need for sleep finally overcame him. After his death in 461 (or, less likely, 493) he is popularly supposed to have been buried in the Cathedral at Downpatrick along with St Brigit and St Columba, his fellow patrons of Ireland – a lovely but unproven tradition.

As might be expected, after his death his reputation gathered mythic tales as a ship collects barnacles. The two most persistent stories concern snakes and the shamrock. He is supposed to have banished snakes from Ireland, although no such creatures ever actually existed on the island. The 'snakes' may be interpreted as symbolising either paganism or theological unorthodoxy such as the Pelagian heresy, however, making sense of the legend. Perhaps the most popular image of the saint is his supposed use of the shamrock's tripartite leaf as a symbol representing the Trinity, and it is this that has become the most enduring and best-loved story about St Patrick. His celebrated poem the Lorica (Breastplate) is greatly loved and still sung in hymn versions today all over the world. Besides being one of the Patrons of Ireland, Patrick is also Patron Saint of Nigeria, Montserrat, 'excluded people' and engineers.

This Office for St Patrick's Day consists of a rich collection of propers (material peculiar to that day alone) which would have been sung during the Offices of 1st Vespers, Matins, Lauds and 2nd Vespers in a religious foundation dedicated to the saint. The monastic life revolves, now as it did then, around the singing of the daily offices, and these venerable acts of musical prayer are the pillars of the monastic life. Matins is the most extensive of the Offices and the most wide-ranging in terms of musical content, and it would have taken around two and a half hours for its majestic structure to unwind. In the space of a single disc we are only able to provide a glimpse into this meditative sound-world, and we have been obliged to omit most of the standard daily liturgical material such as the nine Psalms which would have been sung in their entirety during Matins. We have worked almost entirely from TCD 79, although we have included the hymn Ecce fulget which only appears in TCD 80, and we have also used the TCD 80 version of Responsory IX from Matins which lacks its Gloria in TCD 79.

As entertainers our interest lies particularly in the propers for St Patrick's Day as well as in those liturgical structures that offer the most interesting musical experiences. One such is the Invitatory which is woven around the Venite canticle at the opening of Matins. The melody for the Venite is taken from the Herdmanston Breviary (Edinburgh, NLS Adv. MS 18. 2. 13A, fol. 341r2), dated c.1300. This manuscript was used in Scotland in the Haddington region in the later Middle Ages. The tones for the Magnificat and Benedictus are taken from a tonary contained in the same source, on folios 166v1 and 166v2, respectively. Constricted as we are by the single CD format, there was only space to include the first verse and Gloria for each canticle. We are extremely indebted to Dr Greta-Mary Hair for uncovering the sources and transcribing and editing these items for us. We were delighted to note two interesting links with Scottish medieval offices, both involving the use of popular European melodies. The tune for the hymn Exultent filii is an interesting variation of the melody used for the hymn Aurora rutilat in the 13th century Scottish Office for St Columba in the Inchcolm Antiphoner. The melody for the prosa Mente munda letabunda pops up twice in medieval Scottish sources: in the 13th century Office for St Kentigern (Glasgow's patron saint) from the Sprouston Breviary, and also as the tenor of the troped section of the Sanctus Mater mitis vere vitis in fascicle 11 of the 13th century St Andrews Music Book (W1). This melody is certainly European, first appearing in the Office for St Nicholas which is attributed to Reginald of Eichstatt.

Our approach to this music is based on the concept of 'less is more'. With that in mind, we sing the chant largely with equal notes, allowing the text and phrase shapes to dictate subtle changes of tempo and emphasis. We add the occasional drone when we feel that it serves the structure, style and context of the item concerned. The harp accompaniments, improvised by William Taylor, pay tribute to a growing body of iconographical evidence supporting the view that harps were played in Celtic religious foundations. We feel that the sacred medieval music of Scotland and Ireland could not fail to be influenced by centuries of secular bardic practice. As a harp is listed as late as the mid-sixteenth century in the effects of a Scottish monastery at the time of its dissolution, we feel that there is no reason to suppose that this most Celtic of instruments might not have been in use in the performance of an indigenous chant repertoire for several centuries.

The two manuscripts from which our performance is sourced, TCD 79 and TCD 80, have been transcribed and edited by Dr Ann Buckley to whom we owe the most profound debt of gratitude, not only for her immense generosity in sharing her work with us, but also for her patience, sound advice and warm encouragement at every stage of the project. Our grateful thanks and acknowledgement also go to Senan Furlong OSB who has transcribed and translated the text of the Office.

Rebecca Tavener

The Manuscripts

St Patrick, along with Saints Brigit, Colmcille and Columbanus, was one of the most widely venerated Irish saints in early medieval Europe. His name is found in a context in manuscripts still surviving from Frankish Gaul and southern Germany, south as far as Italy and Austria to the east. But today, apart from hymns attested in numerous sources, the historical record for offices and masses in his honour is severely depleted.

The Office for St Patrick, represented in part on this recording, is the only one we know from medieval Ireland. It is found in ten different sources, the oldest of which is in the Waterford collection (now Corpus Christ College Cambridge MS 405), an early fourteenth-century manuscript but with materials dating to c. 1200. The remaining sources are fifteenth century or later. Only five contain music notation, all of them now in the Library of Trinity College Dublin: MSS 77, 78, 79, 80 and 109.

MSS 77, 78, 79 and 80 are Sarum Divine Office manuscripts. MS 77, the Antiphonary of Armagh, was formerly used by the céli Dé ('Companions of God'), or Vicars Choral, of the Cathedral. While it does not contain a full office for St Patrick, its psalter is unusual in several respects, including that of the presence of three notated antiphons in his honour in the section for the Little Hours, 'Iubilemus', 'Ut nos Deus' and 'Laus et Honor'. These are concordant with the Lauds antiphons in MSS 79 and 80.

MS 78 is a breviary associated with the diocese of Ossory, perhaps Kilkenny Cathedral, since it contains a unique notated office for St Canice; other Ossory saints are well represented in its Kalendar. It appears to have been used in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin, in the second half of the 16th century. MS 79 is an antiphonal, dating to c. 1431-1435, which formerly belonged to the Church of St John the Evangelist, Dublin, a dependent of Christ Church Cathedral. MS 80 is an early 15th-century Breviary believed to come from Kilmoone, Co. Meath.

The two sources used here are MSS 79 and 80, chosen for the complementarity of their contents. MS 79 includes the Alleluias for Matins which would have been performed during Eastertide. Unlike MS 80, it does not contain contemporary lections, but a set different from those in MS 80 was added later in a 16th-century hand. MS 80 has notation for the Gloria Patri, as well as including all nine lections in the main body of the text. The beginning of Vespers is missing in this source because of destruction.

MS 109 is a 15th -century Irish Observant Franciscan Antiphonary. It contains notation for First Vespers only; the remainder of the office is included, but without notation or lections. Another source for Patrick was recently identified among a large number of fragments in the Schottenstift in Vienna. This Irish Benedictine monastery was founded in 1155 by monks from the slightly older Irish Schottenkloster in Regensburg, Bavaria. Among these fragments, some of them substantial, are several antiphonals and a hymnal. A completely different notated office for Patrick is contained in one of the 12th-century antiphonals which may have been particular to that congregation. While a copy of the hymn, 'Ecce fulget clarissima', survives in another of the Vienna fragments, a 12th-century hymnal, without music notation.

'Ecce fulget', included on this recording, is found in two parts in the Kilmoone Breviary (MS 80): the first part, strophes 1-6 and 11, was sung at First Vespers; and the second part, strophes 6-11 ('Ad hanc doctor'), at Matins. The entire text of this hymn occurs also in the Trinity College Dublin copy of the Irish Liber Hymnorum (MS 1441), a collection dating from the late 10th / early 11th century, although 'Ecce fulget' was added later. The only surviving melody associated with it is that found in the Kilmoone Breviary, a melody not unique to Patrick but in standard use in the Gregorian repertory.

Facilitation provided by the Manuscripts Department of Trinity College Dublin in allowing access to these source materials is gratefully acknowledged. Research on 'Veneranda imminentis', an Office for St Patrick, represents part of a larger international project on the Liturgical Veneration of Irish Saints in Medieval Europe being undertaken at the National University of Ireland Maynooth under the direction of Dr Ann Buckley, and funded through the generous support of the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences Project Grants Scheme.

Ann Buckley


St Patrick, paiting by Maria Rud


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