History of the Psalterium Project

The Foundation’s first project was an ambitious one:  To record the whole Latin psalter in Gregorian chant.  A website was made to publicize the project and note its progress.

www.psalmchant.com

October 2018:   After more than six years of research, recording, editing and mastering we have completed and published CD Box (12 CDs + 1 DVD)  + book Psalterium Currens.  Orders now being take – see: http://www.psalterium.nl/the-psalterium-project/

Below is a summary of the Project:

The church in Malay

Execution of Plan of Action – Review  May 2012 to May 2017

The professional recordings were made during weeklong sessions in an 11th century Cluniac Romanesque church in Malay – a quiet village in southern Burgundy, France (just 10 km. north of Cluny). Recording equipment and technical assistance was provided by Studio Stone,  Oldenzaal, The Netherlands. Jan Steenbeeke is the master sound technician – highly recommended!

http://www.stonecreekav.nl/

The location chosen was made to concentrate the minds on the Project. Singers were given travel, good accommodation, excellent food and wine, and a beautiful and inspiring location to be in – even if the weather might not be cooperative.

Due to the liturgical reforms of Vaticanum II, new chant antiphons were composed and published in the Antifonale Monasticum by the Abbey of St. Pierre de Solesmes. These were not what we wanted for our Project. Our intention was to find an authentic antiphon – with a text link to the psalm – for every psalm from the vieux fonds (the oldest repertoire), preferably one noted in the late 10th century Codex Hartker (Sankt Gallen) SG 390-391, the oldest notated manuscript of the Office repertoire. This has been achieved for about 80% of the antiphons needed.

Several longer psalms were split up into smaller units: for example, Psalm 118/119 with 176 verses is subdivided into 22 parts, each corresponding to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. As a result, 183 antiphons have had to be found for the recording project. In addition to Codex Hartker, about 30 of the oldest manuscripts notating the office repertoire have been consulted to fill this need, including Karlsruhe Aug.LX (essentially viewed as Codex Hartker written on a four-line staff), St.Maur-les-Fossés (BN Paris 12044), Utrecht Antifonale UB 406, Sankt Gallen 388 (= copy of Codex Hartker), Klosterneuburg, Aachen, Firenze, Lucca 601, Worcester F 160, Toledo 44.1 and others.

The 6 volume Corpus Antiphonalium Officii of Dom R.J. Hesbert has been invaluable for this search as have the in  2010 publication Laus Divina by Frans Kok and the CANTUSDatabase.org of the University of Waterloo, Canada. Consultant to the project was Professor Cornelius Pouderoijen OSB of the University of Vienna, perhaps – no, without doubt –  the world’s foremost authority on the Gregorian chant Office repertoire. A profile of the man:  http://psalmchant.com/cornelius.html

Interior of church in Malay

Where are we now?

Nine weeks of recording spread over six years have resulted in the successful recording of all the material needed for the whole Latin Psalter – all 150 psalms. The first recording session was held in May 2012. The final recording session was held in the last week of April 2017.

  • This whole Project has been privately funded and has cost about €90,000.  This sum has been sponsored for two thirds by two participants in the Project plus some private contributions. Final realization was made possible by early subscriptions. Several participants were given some cost-based remuneration.  No one has profited financially from this Project.

    This is a labour of love and passion for Gregorian chant. Thousands of hours have been invested in the Project.

Full editing, mastering and mixing was in the hands of our master sound technician Jan Steenbeke.

Graphic design was done by Hans Sprangers. Hans, fortunately for us, is one of the singers and an excellent graphic designer – and one of our best voices! His many hours of work on the 272 page Psalterium Currens – all 150 psalms with 183 antiphons (many in print for the first time – and all beautifully calligraphed by our consultant to the Project, Prof. Cornelius (Kees) Pouderoijen OSB of the University of Vienna) – was the largest project of his career.

Both Hans and Br. Kees received no remuneration.  This was a labour of love. Hans also made our website:  http://psalmchant.com/index.html

Presentation of the 12-CD Box with DVD documentary and complete Psalterium Currens was made at the XIIIth International Festival for Gregorian Chant 2018 in Watou (Belgium) May 9-13, 2018.

We are hoping (December 2018) to be able to present a copy to H.H. Pope Francis sometime in 2019.