Salve festa dies

Prologue and Descant to the hymn tune SALVE FESTA DIES. (And no, we don't expect the organist to go directly from the prologue to the descant; we anticipate you will want to sing the verses between these bookends.) Free score. 

The hymn SALVE FESTA DIES, was written by Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus, a 6th C monk and eventually bishop of Poitiers. In addition to the Easter text, there are variants for Ascension and Pentecost, each ending with the antiphon 'Hail thee, festival day' (L., Salve festa dies). The tune is one of four Ralph Vaughan Williams original hymn tunes, and is characterized by an energetic rhythm with a pronounced forward motion. Because the setting includes two verses sung alternatim with the antiphon, even the longest of the settings - Easter - sustains congregational interest throughout. The variants for Ascension, and Pentecost are shorter. Of particular interest is Vaughan Williams' original choice of language, 'God, the All-father,' connecting the trinitarian First Person to the ancient Norse reference to Odin, Alföðr. (In Anglo-Saxon, this is Woden, for whom Wedensday is named.) Most English language hymnals over time have updated this with clarifying language, especially helpful to those (most) of us who might lack the necessary historical or cultural context to appreciate this detail about a pre-Christian mythological god who sacrificed himself to himself. It might fairly be said that Fortunatus, a Gallican mystic and poet, likely would have missed that part, too - but fortunately, not much else was overlooked.

[Instrumental version for brass quintet, timpani, organ and choir available. Use the contact form at right for a link to an audio demo and more information.]

Updated: May 2017

Organ Score 8½ x 14

Organ Part 8½ x 11

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