A Method of Simplified Plainsong

From The Rev. Ben Jefferies:

The Psalm is chanted on a steady reciting note: Whatever sits comfortably in the throat, and can be sung softly. The last stressed syllable goes off the reciting note. At the end of the first half-verse (before the asterisk), go up one step. At the end of the second half-verse, go down one step. It’s that easy.

Here is a (lo-fi) recording of the psalms as we sung them at morning prayer this morning (sung from the BCP 2019):

Experience has shown that people with zero experience chanting can handle this quite readily, and can jump in on a first try. I have also been able to teach it to kids as young as 7. 

While it is certainly not as beautiful as traditional plainsong or Anglican Chant, it does allow the worshiper to engage much more readily with the content of the psalm, and not be distracted about what music to sing. The firm austerity of the near-monotone nature of it, creates a reflective atmosphere in which to really sink into the psalm, and it adds great joy to the Daily Office. 
Moreover, it imparts two foundational building blocks to those who would like to go on to attempt plainsong: The ability to chant at the rhythm of speech, and the ability to recognize the last stressed syllable, both of which make the acquisition of the more elaborate plainsong endings easier to figure out.

Give it a try at your next Office, and see if you think it might be a useful tool. My hope and prayer is that — in my parish at least — it will allow us to hang on to the last thread of the Gregorian tradition, before it leaves the room entirely.

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