Thomas Wofford writes: “I am an amateur choral musician (a tenor) and have just begun doing some of my own arranging of music. I was wondering if anyone has ever set the Adsum Domine to music. If not, are the complete words contained in the story “Healer’s Song” from Deryni Archives (the book)? It would probably take me a VERY long time (as I have never composed my own music before), but I would love to try to set the Adsum Domine to music. Given how intricate the chords and harmonies are supposed to be (as evidenced by Camber’s reaction to it when he hears it sung by a full choir), I would probably try do it in the style of a sacred rennaissance multi-part counterpoint (such as Jacob Clemens’ “Ascendens Christus”), rather than a medieval plainsong. Any suggestions?”
To which Katherine replies: “I am not aware of anyone having done a musical setting for the Adsum Domine, but it would certainly get my attention. I wrote it in English, of course, and later made a poor attempt at translating it into Latin. A proper Latin scholar has since done a better translation, which I’ll append to this.
“As for musical style—renaissance multi-part counterpoint might well work. There would definitely be minor keys and harmonics in same. Or, I have become increasingly fond of orthodox chant-forms, especially as John Tavener has worked with them of late. In particular, I love his “Song for Athena,” which came to popular attention when it was used for the recessional at the funeral of Diana Princess of Wales, as they carried her coffin out of Westminister Abbey. This piece was definitely in my mind as I wrote the funeral scene for Marie de Corwyn, the younger sister of Alyce (the future mother of Alaric Morgan) in IN THE KING’S SERVICE. Of you aren’t familiar with this piece, and with the work of John Tavener in particular, you have a treat in store!”
Here follows the current Latin version of the Adsum Domine. An earlier version was based on a faulty manuscript tradition which has since been subjected to critical analysis and emendation. This variation reflects the language of the Latin Psalter and other elements of the Divine Office. With special thanks to Father Michael Cotone, O.S.C., the Crosier Community, Onamia, Minnesota.
ADSUM DOMINE (Revised)
gratiam mihi concessisti ut corpora hominum sanem.
visum mihi donasti ut animas hominum videam.
potentiam mihi dedisti ut voluntates aliorum convertam.
Da, Domine, vires et sapientiam
ut haec omnia dona tantum ad ministerium dirigam,
secundum voluntatem tuam.
Dominus lucis dixit: Ecce,
tu puer delectus meus es et hominibus donum meum.
Antequam lucifer splenduit,
antequam tu fuisti in ventre matris tuae,
iam consecrata est mihi anima tua ad omnia saecula.
Tu es hunc super mundum manus sanationis meae,
tu es vitae instrumentum meum et potentia sanationis meae.
Tibi spiritum potentem ad sanandum dono;
tibi omnia mirifica quae abscondunt silvae et luci et terrae dono;
tibi haec omnia dono, ut caritatem meam cognoscas.
His omnibus bene utere, ut dolores hominum et animantium levas:
ignis esto purgationis ad corruptionem purgandam,
solatium esto somnii ad dolorem leniendum.
Omnia secreta tibi commissa tene in pectore tuo
tam sacrosancta quam in confessione dicta:
noli petere aliquid perspicere ad patificiendum
nisi mens alia sua sponte offertur.
Manibus consecratis fractum fac sanum,
Anima consecrata pacem meam extende.
me totumque ingenium meum pedibus tuis proicio.
tu Creator solus rerum omnium,
tu Omnipotens lucem et obscuritatem regnans,
tu ipse vitae Donator et Donum vitae.
totus voluntati tuae dedicatus.
ministerio tuo consecratus,
potentia sanandi aut sauciandi cinctus.
Dirige, Domone, servum tuum et ab omni malo illum protege, ut honor intactus et donum purum maneat.