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Notes on the Book of Sung Gospels

Practical Information

Gary D. Penkala

The beginning and ending dialogue of each Gospel are invariable, except for the author's citation. The reciting tone is indicated by an open note surrounded by two small lines. It is the tone on which most of the text is chanted, and is pitched at "C" here only for the convenience of avoiding sharps or flats in the music. It is incumbent on the man singing the text to find a comfortable pitch for the reciting note ("G" or "A" works well for most voices) and adjust the other notes accordingly.

The basic Gospel tone utilized in this volume consists of two phrases, which alternate throughout the text. There is a third phrase which is employed to underscore questions in the text and an altered version of this is used as the final phrase of each Gospel.

Careful attention has been paid to correct breathing. Places to breathe have been suggested by commas placed above the staff. Of course, breaths should also be taken at any single or double bar line.

The text has been italicized where the notes deviate from the reciting tone. Where several notes are sung to one syllable, they are grouped together by a slur.

Those parts of the Gospel to be sung on the reciting tone should be paced in a relaxed speech rhythm, not too slowly, and definitely not too quickly. All other notes should be sung with equal value, except dotted notes, which are lengthened slightly. Suitable time should be allowed after the introductory dialogue and before the conclusion to set apart the Gospel text proper.

In order for a sung Gospel to have its intended effect, it must sound effortless. Undue attention to the notes on the part of the singer will have the disastrous effect of focusing the congregation's attention on the music rather than the text. The Gospel message embodied in the text must always be the precious cargo which is humbly carried by the underlying music. To thus set the evangelists' words in high relief requires much practice. Although the tones used in this book are simple, they are not meant to be sung spontaneously; they should be rehearsed well, so that the ease and fluidity of the singing opens the ears of the listener to the meaning behind the familiar words.

Per Evangelica dicta deleantur nostra delicta.

May the words of the Gospel wipe away our sins.

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Part IV: Table of Contents 

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