Sacred Music Studies
Year 1 - November

November is a month filled with remembrances of the Communion of Saints, the Faithful Departed, thanksgiving for God's blessings, and (this year), the beginning of Advent. I tweaked my plan a little for this month, and decided to change the hymn in order to prepare for Advent. The idea is that when the first Sunday of Advent comes on November 30, you and yours will be ready!  (Check the blog in early November for the hymn To the Souls of the Faithful, so you can still participate in the month's dedication.)

So, what's the new hymn? Conditor alme siderum, or Creator of the Stars of Night.  Hopefully your choir will sing it at some point during Advent; your children will be SO proud to be able to sing along! 

Teaching these hymns to your children is a real gift - may God bless your efforts!

As a special bonus for this month, use the melody from Creator of the Stars of Night to sing A Hymn to St. Andrew by St. Peter Damian. (Words provided in this newsletter.) St. Andrew's feast day falls on the first Sunday of Advent this year, making this a double two-for-one deal! :-)

Hymn Information:

Conditor alme siderum (7th century Latin poem. Author anonymous.)

Read about the changes Pope Urban VIII made to this hymn. It is a little confusing to find out that his revised hymn is now considered a completely different hymn, Creator alme siderum, which seems so similar, and is sung to the same melody! The original Latin is the the one we are learning.

Read why this hymn is sung during Advent.

See it used "in real life" in this booklet of Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent. (If you see a mostly blank page that says to "Click here to download your attachment." Don't worry, I double-checked it; it is a valid link.)


Four Week Basic Schedule:

If possible, sing everyday at the start of school, at morning prayers, or another set time of family prayer. If the hymn is sung often enough, memorization will come naturally. Try to memorize as much as you can by the end of the month. Although memorization is one goal of these studies, it is much more important to ENJOY singing the hymn together. 

Prep - Print out the music; put it in a binder. (See how to make a Family Hymnal further on.) Briefly look over the history of the hymn, tune, composer, lyricist, time period, etc. to get ideas about additional assignments.

Week 1 - Introduce the hymn and its history. Listen to the audio, and sing along. Choose which, if any, additional assignments will be given, and assign. Flexibility, interest, age, musical ability etc. will determine which type of assignment is best. 

Weeks 2 - 4 - Complete additional assignment(s) if/as desired. Sing and memorize. Review other hymns. Listen to recordings suggested below.
Conditor alme siderum
7th century Latin poem. Author anonymous.
Gregorian score (Source: Gregobase)

Creator of the Stars of Night Score (Source:

Video & Audio - YouTube

Video & Audio (Latin and English) - YouTube

Translation (There are many translations. Click to find more, and read an interesting article by Fr. Z) 

Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting Light; 
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear thy servants when they call.

Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death an universe,
Hast found the med’cine, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruin’d race.

Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the Bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a Virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.

At whose dread Name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow
And things celestial thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

O thou, whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From ev’ry insult of the foe.

To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honour, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.


Original Latin text:

Conditor alme siderum,
aeterna lux credentium,
Christe, redemptor omnium,
exaudi preces supplicum.

Qui condolens interitu
mortis perire saeculum,
salvasti mundum languidum,
donans reis remedium.

Vergente mundi vespere,
uti sponsus de thalamo,
egressus honestissima
Virginis matris clausula.

Cuius forti potentiae
genu curvantur omnia;
caelestia, terrestria
nutu fatentur subdita.

Te, deprecamur hagie,
venture iudex saeculi,
conserva nos in tempore
hostis a telo perfidi.

Laus, honor, virtus, gloria,
Deo Patri et Filio
Sancto simul Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
Hymn to St. Andrew 
(Captator olim piscium)
text by St. Peter Damian
Translation by Kathleen Pluth
Sing to the same hymn tune above. (Conditor alme siderum)
View original source of the translation here.

Captator olim piscium
The fisherman that you had been
Became a fisherman of men
In your nets, Andrew, seize and save
Your people from the worldly wave.
St. Peter’s brother, by his side
In living flesh, and crucified.
One mother’s womb bore these two men
And now in highest heav’n they reign.
O shoot and offspring of renown!
How equal in your glorious crown!
The Church’s fathers, faithful ones,
And Christ’s own cross’s faithful sons.
Your brother’s path to life you laid.
You showed the place where Jesus stayed.
So Andrew, with us always bide:
Our happy journey’s blessed guide.
And more and more, o brother rare,
Arouse the churches everywhere
To love and serve obediently
Within St. Peter’s ministry.
Make us, O Christ’s beloved one,
Like you, the way of love to run,
That joy attaining, we may sing
In glory songs to God our King.

Learn to Read Gregorian Chant

This year, we are using "A Gregorian Chant Coloring Book for Children and Adults" by Noel Jones. It is free to download. Here is the Teacher's edition (Same as the coloring book, but with needed explanations for teachers or older students.)

Assignment for November: One page per week 

Are your children too young to learn to read chant? Try singing songs from "Stories of the Redemption for Children in Chant". Free audio is available for each song. Your littles will easily become familiar with numerous Gregorian modes.
Resource for Learning to Read Gregorian Chant

Can't read chant? No problem!

This is the book we are using this year to learn how to read Gregorian chant. You can download it for free here.  (You have the option to purchase a printed version, but the download is free.) You will also notice that there is a Teacher's version available for free, too!

Once you click "Download," you will need to fill out a simple survey, and then you are led to a page that has ALL the free downloads available by Frog Music Press. 

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND SAVING THIS DOWNLOAD PAGE LINK, so you don't have to fill out the survey again. (A lesson learned from experience!)

Optional Enrichment and Learning
Language Arts Ideas:
  • Copywork - copy a verse or the chorus
  • Dictation
  • Choose a favorite stanza and enter it in a personal journal
  • Define any new vocabulary words
  • Narration - have your student tell you what the hymn is about in his own words

History Ideas:

  • Read the biographies of the composers
  • Locate birthplaces on a globe
  • What else was happening in the world/country of origin when it was composed?
  • Make a page for your Book of Centuries or add it to a Timeline 
Religious Ideas:
For further learning about sacred music:
More Sacred Music to Listen to and Enjoy:

Palestrina - Sicut Servus (You Tube - the image of the music is so clear, you can pick a voice part and sing along!)

Chant Propers for the Extraordinary Form (CCWatershed)

Chant Kyriale (CCWatershed)
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Connect on the Google+ Community

I started a Google+ community for these studies. This has great potential for being a place to: 1) discuss the music we are learning each month, and 2) share our learning experiences with others. I think it would be helpful if Q&A, interesting facts found, or other helpful information could be easily seen and discussed by all.  Think of it as an online study and support group. 

Let's enjoy this learning experience together!

If you are new to Google+,  here's a great tutorial on getting started
Sacred Music Studies Community
Sacred Music Studies Community
Music for Year 1:
  • Concordi Laetitia (and/or Maiden Mother, Meek and Mild)
  • Dear Angel, Ever at My Side
  • Conditor Alme Siderum (Creator of the Stars of Night)
  • O Come, All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis)
  • Holy God, We Praise Thy Name
  • Think of the Son of God
  • Stabat Mater, Dolorosa
  • O Sacrum Convivium
  • Regina Coeli Laetare
  • All Ye Who Seek a Comfort Sure
  • Firmly I Believe and Truly
  • Immaculate Mary

How do you save and organize all the music you can print? By making a family hymnal! It is so simple. Just grab a binder, print out the music you love, and add it to the binder!

Design a cover if you'd like to get fancy. 

Add tabs for the different Liturgical Seasons and major feasts: Advent, Christmas, the Holy Name, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Christ the King, Sacred Heart, Precious Blood, Holy Trinity, Holy Ghost, the Saints, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady, All Souls, General 

The hymns we will be learning are in the public domain, so any sheet music in the newsletters is legal to print, unless otherwise noted. (If you see errors, please let me know!)

Like the hymnal cover design I made? Click this link to edit it with your family name! (There is another one with a white background for cheaper printing!)
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