SS Philip and James

The feast of SS Philip and James is graced with a beautiful piece of of plainchant, Tanto tempore. I do not mean to slight the apostles when I say that great art isn’t always inspired by great people or great events. Philip and James appear at various points in the New Testament but never, I think, in a way that makes one think of them as heroes or larger-than-life characters. They are good men, not great ones — a wonderful encouragement to those of us who know ourselves to be rather run-of-the-mill people, trying to live good Christian lives but frequently failing. Yet at some time in the past an unknown musician took the words of Jesus, ‘Have I been with you so long, Philip’ and turned them into a musical masterpiece we sing each year on this feast. It is a reminder that God can take the most humdrum of materials — us — and transform them beyond our wildest imaginings.

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5 thoughts on “SS Philip and James”

  1. I have only found a polyphonic version by Sweelinck on the Internet (which is very beautiful by the way). Have you a link to the plainchant?

    • I have only found two CD’s that contain this in chant.

      Festival of Gregorian Chants – (1994) a 4 disc set (Label: Madacy Records ASIN: B000000LD4)
      and:
      More Gregorian Chants (1995) 2 disc set (Label: Madacy Records: ASIN: B000000L8Z)

      Sadly, Its not on any of my Solesmes CDs.

  2. Thank you for highlighting one of the problems of a monastic blog. I mentioned a chant familiar to us because we sing it every year. It would probably never have occurred to me to look for a recording available on the internet (I doubt whether I would have had time at the moment, anyway) so, thank you, Harold, for your discography notes. I can’t promise I won’t do it again . . .

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