Scentual Sunday

Miserere mei, Deus

Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo munda me.
Quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco: et peccatum meum contra me est semper.
Tibi soli peccavi, et malum coram te feci: ut justificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum judicaris.
Ecce enim in iniquitatibus conceptus sum: et in peccatis concepit me mater mea.
Ecce enim veritatem dilexisti: incerta et occulta sapientiae tuae manifestasti mihi.
Asperges me hysopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Auditui meo dabis gaudium et laetitiam: et exsultabunt ossa humiliata.
Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.
Ne proiicias me a facie tua: et spiritum sanctum tuum ne auferas a me.
Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui: et spiritu principali confirma me.
Docebo iniquos vias tuas: et impii ad te convertentur.
Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus, Deus salutis meae: et exsultabit lingua mea justitiam tuam.
Domine, labia mea aperies: et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.
Quoniam si voluisses sacrificium, dedissem utique: holocaustis non delectaberis.
Sacrificium Deo spiritus contribulatus: cor contritum, et humiliatum, Deus, non despicies.
Benigne fac, Domine, in bona voluntate tua Sion: ut aedificentur muri Ierusalem.
Tunc acceptabis sacrificium justitiae, oblationes, et holocausta: tunc imponent super altare tuum vitulos.

This translation is from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, and is used in Ivor Atkins’ English edition of the Miserere (published by Novello):

Have mercy upon me, O God

Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy great goodness
According to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine offences.
Wash me throughly from my wickedness: and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my faults: and my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.
Behold, I was shapen in wickedness: and in sin hath my mother conceived me.
But lo, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts: and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness: that the bones which Thou hast broken may rejoice.
Turn Thy face from my sins: and put out all my misdeeds.
Make me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
O give me the comfort of Thy help again: and stablish me with Thy free Spirit.
Then shall I teach Thy ways unto the wicked: and sinners shall be converted unto Thee.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou that art the God of my health: and my tongue shall sing of Thy righteousness.
Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord: and my mouth shall shew Thy praise.
For Thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it Thee: but Thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.
The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt Thou not despise.
O be favourable and gracious unto Sion: build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifice of righteousness, with the burnt-offerings and oblations: then shall they offer young bullocks upon Thine altar.

Psalm 51

Miserere is a setting of Psalm 51 (50) by Italian composer Gregorio Allegri. It was composed during the reign of Pope Urban VIII, probably during the 1630s, for use in the Sistine Chapel during matins, as part of the exclusive Tenebrae service on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday of Holy Week.

The Miserere is written for two choirs, one of five and one of four voices, and is an example of Renaissance polyphony surviving to the present day. One of the choirs sings a simple version of the original Miserere chant; the other, spatially separated, sings an ornamented “commentary” on this.

The Tenebrae service where the Miserere would be sung normally began at dusk, hence the name. During the ritual, candles would be extinguished one by one, save for the last candle which remained alight and was then hidden. Allegri envisioned the setting of the Miserere to be the final act within the first lesson of the Tenebrae service.

It was the last of twelve falsobordone Miserere settings composed and chanted at the service since 1514 and is the most popular: at some point, it became forbidden to transcribe the music and it was allowed to be performed only at those particular services, thus adding to the mystery surrounding it. Writing it down or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication. The setting that escaped from the Vatican is actually a conflation of verses set by Gregorio Allegri around 1638 and Tommaso Bai (also spelled “Baj”; 1650–1718) in 1714.

Three authorized copies of the work were distributed prior to 1770 – to the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold I, to the King of Portugal, and to Padre (Giovanni Battista) Martini. However, none of them succeeded in capturing the beauty of the Miserere as performed annually in the Sistine Chapel.[citation needed] According to the popular story (backed up by family letters), the fourteen-year-old Mozart was visiting Rome, when he first heard the piece during the Wednesday service. Later that day, he wrote it down entirely from memory, returning to the Chapel that Friday to make minor corrections. Some time during his travels, he met the British historian Dr Charles Burney, who obtained the piece from him and took it to London, where it was published in 1771. Once the piece was published, the ban was lifted; Mozart was summoned to Rome by Pope Clement XIV, only instead of excommunicating the boy, the Pope showered praises on him for his feat of musical genius. The work was also transcribed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1831 and Franz Liszt, and various other 18th and 19th century sources survive. Since the lifting of the ban, Allegri’s Miserere has become one of the most popular a cappella choral works now performed.

The original ornamentation that made the work famous were Renaissance techniques that preceded the composition itself, and it was these techniques that were closely guarded by the Vatican. Few written sources (not even Burney’s) showed the ornamentation, and it was this that created the legend of the work’s mystery. However, the Roman priest Pietro Alfieri published an edition in 1840 with the intent of preserving the performance practice of the Sistine choir in the Allegri and Bai compositions, including ornamentation.

(info via Wikipedia)

Melissa Isolates Blend

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This blend is the result of nature and technology. The idea behind Melissa blend is to provide a cost effective solution to those who wish to incorporate the aroma of natural Melissa into products such as candles, soaps and even perfumes.
This material is created with various natural isolates – barely any of which are obtained from Melissa True and nearly all of which come from Citronella and Lemon. The result is an aroma that is sweet and grassy, earthy and intense. The material is rich yellow in colour and of a thin viscosity.

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Frankincense Carteri co2

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Frankincense Carteri CO2 (SELECT)
In my humble opinion this is vintage smelling Somalia material. I personally prefer the smell of this CO2 select extract to the steam distilled material as I think the CO2 captures the carteri species in its truest and purest form. It contains 12% of Incensole Acetate which contributes greatly to the warm, dreamy, incense like qualities exuded. To add to this I would say the smell is sticky, slightly powdery, amber sweet, very masculine and ultimately very beautiful.
Botanical Name: Boswellia carteri

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Extract: Select Extract

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Connection between Odor and Language

An interesting study of the brain, and the connection between odor and language.

Odors are surprisingly difficult to name, but the mechanism underlying this phenomenon is poorly understood. In experiments using event-related potentials (ERPs) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated the physiological basis of odor naming with a paradigm where olfactory and visual object cues were followed by target words that either matched or mismatched the cue. We hypothesized that word processing would not only be affected by its semantic congruency with the preceding cue, but would also depend on the cue modality (olfactory or visual). Performance was slower and less precise when linking a word to its corresponding odor than to its picture. The ERP index of semantic incongruity (N400), reflected in the comparison of nonmatching versus matching target words, was more constrained to posterior electrode sites and lasted longer on odor-cue (vs picture-cue) trials. In parallel, fMRI cross-adaptation in the right orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the left anterior temporal lobe (ATL) was observed in response to words when preceded by matching olfactory cues, but not by matching visual cues. Time-series plots demonstrated increased fMRI activity in OFC and ATL at the onset of the odor cue itself, followed by response habituation after processing of a matching (vs nonmatching) target word, suggesting that predictive perceptual representations in these regions are already established before delivery and deliberation of the target word. Together, our findings underscore the modality-specific anatomy and physiology of object identification in the human brain.

This is one of multiple studies I’ve seen recently about scent.

Scentual Sunday

L’Arianna (SV 291), composed in 1607–08, was the second opera by the Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. One of the earliest of the Baroque period and indeed of any operas, it was first performed on 28 May 1608, as part of the musical festivities for a royal wedding at the court of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga in Mantua. All the music is lost apart from the extended recitative known as “Lamento d’Arianna” (“Ariadne’s Lament”). The libretto, which survives complete, was written in eight scenes by Ottavio Rinuccini, who used Ovid’s Heroides and other classical sources to relate the story of Ariadne’s abandonment by Theseus on the island of Naxos and her subsequent elevation as bride to the god Bacchus.

The opera was composed under severe pressure of time; the composer later said that the effort of creating it almost killed him. The initial performance, produced with lavish and innovative special effects, was highly praised, and the work was equally well received in Venice when it was revived under the composer’s direction in 1640 as the inaugural work for the Teatro San Moisè.

Rinuccini’s libretto is available in a number of editions. The music of the “Lamento” survives because it was published by Monteverdi, in several different versions, independently from the opera. This fragment became a highly influential musical work and was widely imitated; the “expressive lament” became an integral feature of Italian opera for much of the 17th century. In recent years the “Lamento” has become popular as a concert and recital piece and has been frequently recorded. A new completion of the “Lamento”, which includes a setting of the surviving texts of the choruses to new music by Scottish composer Gareth Wilson (b.1976), was performed at King’s College, London University, on the 29th of November, 2013, the 370th anniversary of Monteverdi’s death.

The lament was saved from oblivion by Monteverdi’s decision to publish it independently from the opera: first in 1614 as a five-voice madrigal, then in 1623 as a monody, and finally in 1641 as a sacred hymn, Lamento della Madonna. The five-voice adaptation was included in the composer’s Sixth Book of Madrigals; there is evidence that this arrangement was made at the suggestion of an unnamed Venetian gentleman who thought that the melody would benefit from counterpoint. In 1868 the lament was published in Paris, and in 1910 the Italian composer Ottorino Respighi issued an edited, orchestral transcription.

In her analysis of the lament, the musicologist Suzanne Cusick asserts that:

[T]o a large extent Monteverdi’s fame and historical status rested for centuries on the universal appreciation of his achievement in the celebrated lament [which] was among the most emulated, and therefore influential, works of the early 17th century.

In Cusick’s view Monteverdi “creat[ed] the lament as a recognizable genre of vocal chamber music and as a standard scene in opera … that would become crucial, almost genre-defining, to the full-scale public operas of 17th-century Venice” and she concludes by noting that the women of Mantua would have recognised the transformations enacted in the lament as representative of their own life stories. Monteverdi, she believes, sought to represent in music the eventual triumph of female piety over promiscuity: “Arianna’s gradual loss of her passionate self in the lament constitutes a public musical chastening of this incautious woman who dared to choose her own mate”. In her study The Recitative Soliloquy, Margaret Murata records that laments of this kind became a staple feature of operas until about 1650, “thereafter more rarely until the total triumph of the aria around 1670″. Mark Ringer, in his analysis of Monteverdi’s musical drama, suggests that the lament defines Monteverdi’s innovative creativity in a manner similar to that in which, two-and-a-half centuries later, the “Prelude” and the “Liebestod” in Tristan und Isolde announced Wagner’s discovery of new expressive frontiers.

In its operatic context the lament takes the form of an extended recitative of more than 70 vocal lines, delivered in five sections divided by choral comments (which, alongside the “Dorilla” sections, also lost, are restored in the new version by Wilson). Some of the wording is prefigured in the immediately preceding scene in which the First Envoy describes Arianna’s plight to a sympathetic chorus of fishermen. The lament depicts Arianna’s various emotional reactions to her abandonment: sorrow, anger, fear, self-pity, desolation and a sense of futility. Cusick draws attention to the manner in which Monteverdi is able to match in music the “rhetorical and syntactical gestures” in Rinuccini’s text. The opening repeated words “Lasciatemi morire” (Let me die) are accompanied by a dominant seventh chord which Ringer describes as “an unforgettable chromatic stab of pain”; Monteverdi was one of the first users of this musical device. What follows, says Ringer, has a range and depth “comparable to Shakespeare’s most searching soliloquies”. The words “Lasciatemi morire” are followed by “O Teseo, O Teseo mio” (O Theseus, my Theseus”); the two phrases represent Arianna’s contrasting emotions of despair and longing. Throughout the lament indignation and anger are punctuated by tenderness, until the final iteration of “O Teseo”, after which a descending line brings the lament to a quiet conclusion.

Among other composers who adopted the format and style of Arianna’s lament were Francesco Cavalli, whose opera Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo contains three such pieces; Francesco Costa, who included a setting of Rinuccini’s text in his madrigal collection Pianta d’Arianna; and Sigismondo d’India, who wrote several laments in the 1620s after the monodic version of Arianna’s lament was published in 1623. Monteverdi himself used the expressive lament format in each of his two late operas, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea, for the respective characters of Penelope and Ottavia. In 1641 Monteverdi adapted Arianna’s lament into a sacred song with a Latin text, “Pianto dell Madonna”, which he included in Selva morale e spirituale, the last of his works published during his lifetime.

The action is preceded by a brief prologue, delivered by Apollo. Venus and Cupid are then discovered, in conversation, on a desolate seashore. Venus informs Cupid that Duke Theseus of Athens, together with Ariadne, will soon be arriving on the island of Naxos on their way to Athens. They are fleeing from Crete, where the pair have been complicit in the slaying of Ariadne’s monster half-brother, the Minotaur, in the labyrinth below the palace of her father, King Minos. Venus is aware that Theseus intends to abandon Ariadne on Naxos, and to proceed to Athens alone. Cupid offers to rekindle Theseus’s passion for Ariadne, but Venus has decided to unite her with the god Bacchus, and asks Cupid to arrange this.

Cupid conceals himself, as Theseus and Ariadne arrive on the island a short distance away. Ariadne muses over her disloyalty to her father, but declares her love for Theseus. She departs to find shelter for the night, after which a fishermen’s chorus compares her eyes with the stars of heaven. Theseus, alone with his counsellor, discusses his abandonment of Ariadne, and is advised that this decision is justified, as she will not be acceptable to the people of Athens as their ruler’s consort.

A chorus greets the dawn as Ariadne, after a troubled night’s sleep, returns to the shore with her companion, Dorilla, to find that Theseus has departed. Dorilla offers her comfort. In despair at the thought that Theseus will not return, Ariadne nevertheless decides to go to the landing area to wait for him. In a pastoral interlude a chorus sings of the joys of rural life, and expresses the hope that Theseus will not forget Ariadne. Primed by an envoy with the news that Ariadne is alone and sorrowing, the chorus again sings in sympathy with her. On the beach, Ariadne sings her lament for her lost love and prepares to kill herself. At this point fanfares are heard heralding an arrival, causing Ariadne to hope that it is Theseus returning. In another interlude the chorus expresses hope on her behalf, but a second envoy announces that it is Bacchus who has arrived, having taken pity on Ariadne. A sung ballo celebrates the anticipated betrothal of Bacchus and Ariadne. In the final scene Cupid reappears, and Venus rises from the sea before Jupiter speaks his blessing from the heavens. The union is sealed as Bacchus promises Ariadne immortality in heaven, and a crown of stars.

(all info via Wikipedia)

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Reminiscent of galbanum, very green, very intense, combined with a watery, earthy and ozonic character. Obtained by rectification of galbanum essential oil, light yellow in colour and used in fragrance and cosmetic applications.
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