All the faithful come before you

This is the first hymn to the Mother of God that we will look at, and it illustrates a variety of issues we will encounter with these hymns.

Current version

Here is the version in the Marian Hymnal (1984):

Boh predvicnyj

This English setting of Christijane, proslavl’ajme is by Father William Levkulic. Here is the Slavonic, also from the Marian Hymnal:

Accents in the text

In Slavonic, the hymn is in a very strong duple meter; which could be written as 4/4 or even 2/4 time. Every accented syllable falls on a beat.

In English, the first line of the refrain CAN be sung as written, matching the flow of the original:

But the final (added) line of the refrain ends up with very bad accents:

In practice, it is usually sung like plain chant, with no regular beat:

before returning to the regular beat at “Keep us free from fear.” This in turn leads some to sing the FIRST line of the refrain differently:

After input from a number of cantors, I’ve decided NOT to try and maintain the exact Slavonic rhythm on this line:

but instead simply accept that the English and Slavonic melodies will be sung a little differently.  (Since the two languages are not being put under the same notes, this is NOT a problem.) Here is the result:

Boh predvicnyj

Notice that there are two kinds of measures: lines 1, 2, and 4 are in an even 4/4 rhythm, while lines 3 and 5 are written in a “chant style” – measures of uneven  length, accented according to the words, and with a brief pause at the end of each measure.

I also toyed with the idea of putting in an explicit time signature (4/4, each measure consists of four quarter notes, with a strong accent on the first and a smaller accent on the third), but I decided that it would be more confusing than helpful.  One thing this does convince me to do, however, is to each both the English and Slavonic, so that cantors sing both correctly.

What do you think?

Please leave a comment!

2 thoughts on “All the faithful come before you”

  1. Rhythmically,the Refrain works perfectly if measure 9 is notated and sung,” Glo”- as a quarter note, -“ry we”as two eighth notes, and “you” as a dotted half note. New bar lines should be placed before this “you” and one after “our”. Also insert a bar line before “hear”.
    Similarly, on the last line “Ne-ver a-bandon, the “-ver a-“ should also be sung as eighth notes, and a bar line placed before “your child-ren“, with “ren” becoming a dotted half.

    1. That’s a good suggestion, but it only really resolves “Glory we give to you” (by putting it in even 4/4), and doesn’t fix the second unless you use eighth notes for both “-ver a-” and “ban-don”.

      The real issue is that the accents fall differently in the English adaptation than in the Slavonic original. I plan to give your proposal to the Music Commission as an alternative, Ron. Thanks!

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