Demo of the hymn tune CAELITES PLAUDANT with a cappella verse and harmonized descant. Free score.
The text 'Christ, the fair glory of the holy angels,' is a translation of a 9th C. office hymn by Rabanus Maurus, Christe sanctorum decus angelorum, and is now in wide use for the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. This hymn cites celestial visitors who have graced this earth, and once again calls on them to renew their graces: Christ the Savior, three archangels (Michael, defender; Gabriel, herald; Raphael, healer), Mary, the saints, and all the company of angels. The hymn concludes with a doxology. This same writer also bequeathed us Veni creator spiritus.
A French tune from the 1728 Rouen Antiphoner, it emerged in the 1906 hymnal with a new harmonization by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Combined with the hymn Christ the fair glory, the result is a majestic setting that is today a fixture for Michaelmas. The hymn is in the peculiar Greek poetic form known as Sapphic meter (18.104.22.168), named for the Greek poet who used this verse form for a significant portion of her work. The tune name means 'from heaven praise,' and is also sometimes spelled Coelites plaudant.
The Latin version of this hymn is also sung to another French tune from the same period, Christe sanctorum, which takes it's name from the Latin text of "Christ the fair glory," and which tune is given the honor of being hymn 1 in The Hymnal 1982.
P.S. - Hymnal 1982 renames this to Caelites plaudant, the heavens praise, from the original instances, all named Coelites plaudant, the heavenly dwellers praise. The tune first appeared with the name Coelites plaudant in the 1906 English Hymnal and this should be the preferred rendering, despite my deference to my own denomination's use.
Free organ score with harmonized descant (and an a cappella SATB harmonization adapted from RVW)
May the blest mother of our God and Savior,
may the celestial company of angels,
may the assembly of the saints in heaven
help us to praise thee
Father Almighty, Son, and Holy Spirit,
God ever blessed, hear our thankful praises;
Thine is the glory, which from all creation
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