Hypermetric scruples

Occasionally in classic Latin hymns we find texts that don’t fit the poetic meter perfectly but have an extra syllable, and these are often notated so as to draw attention to the discrepancy, as here (“digitus”) in the Veni Creator Spiritus:

Some choir directors adjust these “hypermetric syllables” to fit the meter: that is, they may “elide” syllables by omitting the vowel of one syllable and combining the rest of that syllable with the next (or the previous one!). For example, in the doxology at the end of a long-meter hymn, the phrase “cum Patre et almo Spiritu” can be sung in eight syllables as “cum Patr-et almo Spiritu”. On the other hand, some choir directors sing these lines exactly as notated, out of a sense of duty to sing the hymn as directed in the church-approved book.

Today I stumbled on this document in the old (1949/1960) Antiphonale Romanum (page 64*), which addresses the concern about what is permitted.

The question addressed to the Congregation of Rites (back in 1915) was whether these lines should be pronounced distinctly and the added notes sung rigorously as indicated in the Antiphonale, or whether it was permitted to elide those syllables; and the answer from the Congregation came back, “Negative to the first part; affirmative to the second”; that is: it is not required to interpret those lines rigorously, and it is permitted to elide the affected syllables.

So when a text occasionally doesn’t conform to the meter of its tune, it’s fine to make it fit: I hope this helps ease any scruples of worried singers.


Press Release and Special Offer!

Watts & Co. is proud to have supplied choir wear for cathedrals worldwide, including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York (above).

Watts and Co. Special Offer!

Watts and Co., founded in 1874 has offered a special savings to readers on ChantCafe.com that we want to pass along. They have been long-time advertisers on the NewLiturgicalMovement.org website, supporting our work for many years.

Use discount code CCWATTS to receive an 8% discount on all their choir products. Just visit their website at wattsandco.com.

A little about Watts and Co.:

Traditional hand embroidery remains a key part of Watts & Co.’s offering.

Founded in 1874, Watts & Co. has grown from a small firm of Gothic Revival architects to the purveyor of the finest vestments, choir wear, fabrics, and furnishings to churches worldwide.

Heir to his fifth-generation family business, Robert Hoare, took on the prestigious mantle and continues to guide its growth into the 21st century.

Robert’s ancestor, Sir Gilbert Scott Jr, one of the founders of Watts, converted to Catholicism through his encounter with St John Henry Newman. Since then, Watts has seen its relationship with the Church blossom, supplying priests, parishes, choirs and religious communities worldwide with unique vestments, choir wear and liturgical fabrics of timeless beauty.

‘People who come to us discover a craftmanship here which has been carefully preserved from generation to generation,’ explains Robert. At the heart of Watts’ practice is the message of Pope Benedict XVI: beauty is not mere decoration rather an essential element of the liturgical action.

The Watts showroom in Westminster, London, England.

Celebrating its 150 years anniversary this year, Robert Hoare is passionate to maintain and develop the company’s mission of contributing to the beauty of the liturgy far into the future.


A hymn for the saint of the day

The martyr Stephen met his death–
Forgiveness in his final breath–
He interceded for them all
Whose cloaks lay at the feet of Saul.
The Father, hearing Stephen’s prayer,
Gave gifts for all the Church to share
When grace and mercy overflowed
In light upon Damascus Road.
Then bless the Lord of heart and mind
Who gives new vision to the blind,
Whose reign throughout the world extends,
Whose loving-kindness never ends.
© 2008 Kathleen Pluth. Permission is given for parish use December 26, 2023, January 24-25, 2024. All other rights reserved.

Official Hymn for the Eucharistic Revival

Last spring I joyfully and gratefully received the news that my hymn text was chosen as the official Hymn for the USCCB’s important initiative, the Eucharistic Revival.

After the editing process, the Hymn and also Diane Mahoney’s original composition, the official Theme Song of the Revival, are now available to parishes.

With its themes of salvation and glory, the hymn might well be useful to some during their celebration of Christ the King in a couple of weeks.


More versions of the Hymn, and the Theme Song, may be found here.

CMAA’s first event in New England

Last week (October 12-14), seventy participants came to CMAA’s Fall Sacred Music Workshop at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, Massachusetts for three days of learning and performing chant and polyphony amid the beautiful hills of Central New England.

Starting on Thursday afternoon we prepared the plainchant Mass XII, which we sang on Friday afternoon for a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart, offered in the abbey’s chapel by Abbot Marc Crilly, OSB.

We also began to study Palestrina’s Missa Pater noster, a charming Mass taking the plainchant melody of the Pater noster as its main motif.

The Palestrina was sung at the workshop’s closing Mass on Saturday at Saint Cecilia Church in Leominster, celebrated by Worcester bishop Robert McManus.

More photos of the workshop are on CMAA’s member portal site.



Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, for fourteen years Executive Director at the International Commission for English in the Liturgy, and a frequent speaker at CMAA’s Sacred Music Colloquium,  is stepping down from his prominent role at ICEL, while remaining a member of the Commission’s staff and taking on some new duties in the theology department at Georgetown.

During his time leading the offices of ICEL, Msgr. Wadsworth shepherded several important translation projects on the way to their completion: the current English version of the Roman Missal, based on the 2002 Missale Romanum (and its subsequent updates), new editions of several of the Rites (Marriage, Penance, etc.), and preparations for a new English edition of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Reporter Edward Pentin interviewed him for the National Catholic Register.

After a recent meeting of the Commission, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, OSB, the chairman of ICEL, expressed the Commission’s thanks (video, 8 min.)