Liturgical music in SSPX chapels
  • Aga
    Posts: 38
    In a few days SSPX/Holy See talks will start. I am curious about potential impact of SSPX on liturgical music on the mainstream catholic worship. Does anyone know what is usual musical practice in SSPX chapels?
    Do they promote Gregorian Chant? What kind of music is preferred during the mass? Could you name some leading scholas/directors associated with SSPX? Any comments appreciated.
  • Aga:

    Fr. Bernard Lorber, SSPX, and his Schola Bellarmina have recorded propers for the entire (!) liturgical year. I don't think the singing is all that good, and many of the chants are harmonized. On the other hand, where else can you find propers for the whole year?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Patrick Joseph, to answer your final question:


  • Jeff:

    Thank you.

    I notice that some of these chants are from the Chants Abreges. They are not true Gregorian Chant propers.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Hi, Patrick.

    Both versions are included.

    However, I would be interested in what you consider "true Gregorian Propers." E.g. some of the chants in the Vaticana were composed in 1895: do they qualify as "true Gregorian Propers" ?
  • Jeff:

    I don't see the full chants for this week's Gradual and Alleluia.

    In answer to your question, ask yourself what collections like the Chants Abreges and the Rossini were written to replace.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Hi, Patrick:

    If you want the full GRADUAL or ALLELUIA, go to Isaac Jogues, display all, and use the search function.

    Also, I would be interested in what you consider "true Gregorian Propers." E.g. some of the chants in the Vaticana were composed in 1895: do they qualify as "true Gregorian Propers" ?
  • Chrism
    Posts: 662
    Sorry, how many Gradual and Alleluia chants were actually composed in 1895?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Basically, whenever new feasts were added since the Solesmes revival of chant, they were the ones who "adapted" those melodies. Haberl did the same (and prided himself on being a Gregorian composer), but, of course, after about 1903 his editions weren't used by practically ANYONE. (Although, I do have in my possession a book published by Schirmer in America in the 1940's and it has....the Haberl versions....which leads me to believe that they were still used in some places...
  • Chrism
    Posts: 662
    Jeff, I can't say I see your point at all then. First, the Propers in question are the ones on the St. René Goupil site, i.e. for Sundays of the year, the Proper chants for all of which are ancient. I understand that the St. René Goupil site is in beta, but by excluding these chants from the site, it does cause people to question whether you are rejecting the Graduale as the ideal for the EF. Can you clarify whether that is in fact your intent? (I don't think it is, but a clarification would be in order.)

    Second, while arguments can arise and have arisen about what chant melodies ought to be used for the Propers of newer feasts, it is quite another thing to argue for the replacement of one genre of chant for another. Both Rossini and the authors of the Chants Abregés, and the officials in the Vatican who approved the use of simple tones, took pains to state that their work was NOT the ideal.

    While I know of many places where the Gradual and Alleluia cannot be performed as written due to the inability of the singers, a far more dangerous trend is the wish to eliminate melismatic chant completely from the parochial Sung EF as something only suitable for monastic use, and simply too long or complex for laypeople to endure. This would be a great retreat from the instructions of the Vatican to date, a defeat for Gregorian chant, and an arbitrary deformation of Sung Mass.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    Hi, Chrism.

    (1) How ancient are the Propers for Christ the King?


    (2) Also, Re: what we have done on Rene Goupil:

    At the moment, since the site is in BETA, we have only put up certain options at this time.

    Other options are available at Isaac Jogues.

    Which are more helpful to Catholic musicians? I am not sure.

    We are only trying to help, in whatever small way we can.

    We have made no statements about "replacing the ideal" or anything like that.

    Everyone is free to have opinions about the Chants Abreges, but I think they are very useful and I don't like it when people denigrate them.

    There are many reasons for this, but the main one (for me) is not an objective one. It is my respect for Dom Gajard. I don't know anyone who did more for Gregorian chant. I love his recordings more than I can tell you. I have the utmost respect for him. I'm told he was the one who conceived of and adapted the chants for Chants Abreges.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592

    I take it from the above that I will probably not be able to enlist your help or Patrick's help if we want to start adding Psalm Tones for the the Propers (not kidding --- dead serious). This is just one of the options we hope to add ASAP, and we need some helpers: volunteers who would want to help with this. But again, not to say that this is the ideal.

    Also, Chrism, were you able to ascertain the dates of composition for the Feast of CTK?
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    Even as someone who has only met Jeff O in person once at each of the past two Colloquia, I can attest to his passion for doing as much as possible to help musicians do all that they can to adhere to the Church's ideals. Are we all there yet? Not even close. But those of us starting from (almost) scratch do need intermediate and even, yes, baby steps to get there.

    I for one don't understand how people can sneer at the Rossini Propers and the Chants Abreges No, they're not ideal, but they help us get to that ideal, and do great good along the way.

    Sorry, I'm going to tell you another anecdote.

    Three of us from our schola came back from the Colloquium this year determined not only to continue our work on the chants of the Gradual at our EF Mass, but also (a la Fr. Z's Rules of Engagement) to see if we could help the OF Masses in the parish, where the music is limited to organist and cantor, all OCP all the time, with the usual suspects. We offered to sing English settings of the Propers once a month, and were told we had to sing hymns, although we were allowed to sing one of the Propers (so we chose the Communion antiphon). I got permission from Fr. Weber to use his settings, and as it happened, the antiphon that week was straight psalm tone - Rossini in English.

    It caused a sensation. People applauded, the Pastor thanked us from the altar, etc.,etc., (all the things we didn't want to happen), but afterward 10 minutes people were asking what we were singing, how often we practiced, when were we coming back, etc.

    The 90-99% of Parishes that don't have Chant and Polyphony, if they are ever to have them, are going to have to start with the basics. REAL basics.

    Bravo Jeff! We'll contribute recordings for you!
  • Chrism
    Posts: 662

    Thanks for the clarification. As I said, my only concern right now is the absence of the Gradual/Alleluia from the Graduale from the main page. I have no objection to including any licit material, including of course Rice's Simplified Graduale and links to the polyphonic Propers that Aristotle put on his spreadsheet. But having the minimal options alone readily available, and then adding a footnote saying "if you want the Propers from the Graduale, type in another URL, click a link to a big page and click Ctrl-F" does create the impression that their use is at the very least not anticipated.

    Preserving the use of the Graduale's Graduals and Alleluias from the wrath of a few impatient Catholics is a battle that I need to fight almost every week. My response usually refers to legislation and tradition--the other versions are abnormal and licit only for certain causes. Any contrary custom in my area has been eradicated by years of diligence by many laborers. With audio files available, and at least one trained chanter, it should not take a schola very long to learn how to sing at least some of the melismatic parts of the Gradual/Alleluia set.

    As far as Psalm tone Propers, I've never needed to use these except for the two long Tracts of Lent, but those are included in the Liber. They are of course licit, as is recto tono, which also could profit some by being typeset. Alas, the fact that they are Gregorian tones makes people think that they are the authentic chants for these parts of Mass, rather than emergency replacements.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 662

    Baby steps are necessary steps, but often times people don't want to see baby grow up.

    In our current context, most people don't even know what an "adult" music program sounds like.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 662
    Re: The age of Missa Dignus est Agnus, I had thought this was 1925? Was it composed earlier?

    It's nice that more than 1% of the chants of the liturgical year are from the last century, in that it shows the Church's continuity with ancient Tradition.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    But having the minimal options alone readily available, and then adding a footnote saying "if you want the Propers from the Graduale, type in another URL, click a link to a big page and click Ctrl-F" does create the impression that their use is at the very least not anticipated.

    Fear not! Before the official release of the sites, this will be clarified. That being said, Isaac and Rene are not really different least they are not supposed to be.

    For myself, I have always felt that the Alleluia verses were the most wonderful chants of all. The plan is to make these available on Rene as well.

    I admire your dedication to promoting the full melodies. We used to sing the full Gradual and Alleluia verse, and I'll never forget those days. Beautiful, happy days.

    I do feel that other options have often been suggested by true lovers of Gregorian chant. As is well known, Peter Wager and some of the others on the Pontifical Commission suggested that the chants between the readings be OMITTED if the choir could not handle them! This was not adopted officially (but did happen in America, as did some other disturbing things, like singing these chants WHILE THE EPISTLE IS BEING READ). I don't hold it against P. Wagner and the others who fought so hard for chant---they were just trying to help.

    Here are two more interesting quotes:

    "With regard to the formulas to be adopted for the simple chanting of the Graduals, Tracts,
    and Alleluia verses, Dr. Wagner proposes that, to this end, reference be made to the
    formulas of the responsorial psalms that have fallen into disuse. The liturgical nature
    of these chants would thus be maintained. Dom Mocquereau shares this opinion."
    —Pontifical Commission for the Editio Vaticana (minutes: September 8, 1904)

    "With regard to the idea of shortening the verses of the Graduals and Alleluias, it seems that
    Mr. Védie did not express himself well, or that he was misunderstood. He wrote to me that he
    had simply wanted to say what I myself had said; but I never spoke of abbreviating anything,
    but I did say that the melodies must remain as they are and that singers who do not know
    them or cannot sing them could omit them, replacing them with organ, or performing the
    psalms in another manner."
    —Father de Santi, letter to Dom Mocquereau (August 26, 1901)


    Gregp that's marvelous news!
  • As for the original question from Aga,

    I can only speak for the Parish which I currently oversee the music at.
    Normal High Mass (Every Sunday at 10) consists of the following:

    Gregorian or polyphonic mass, propers of the day from the graduale Romanum, Organ Solo or Latin Motet at Offertory, organ and polyphony at communion, Festive Recessional (often in the vernacular). The organ is held in very high regard - with much of the "filler" music improvised upon a gregorian theme of the day.

    Our music program consists of a SATB choir, Schola, 17 Treble Girls and 8 Treble Boys. We have volunteer chamber orchestra (4-7pieces) at 4-5 masses per year.

    In speaking to society priests and bishops and the membership, I get the feeling that this is not the norm in most SSPX parishes. I'd love it to be, however! In fact, I'd love it to be the norm everywhere (not just SSPX).
  • Very impressive! Catholic musical programs of this sort are certainly not allowed to exist anywhere in the two archdioceses in which I live and work! Which standard embodies the Church's musical and liturgical heritage more faithfully? Hmm ...
  • rsven
    Posts: 43
    Dear Carlos, Where did you gather your treble girls and boys? Is there a school associated with the church, or is there a strong home-school community? I direct a schola at an FSSP Mass, but have been stumped about reaching the children. And, do they really sing the propers from the Graduale Romanum?
  • rsven,

    There is a school associated with the church - choir is a mandatory class. Ward Method is taught from grade 3 through grade 6. There is a strong home-school community, so we have a group class on Wednesday nights for the home-school kids who can't make it during the day. The Schola sings all the propers from the Graduale Romanum religiously (no pun intended)... which means because they're such a stubborn group that the addition of all the Tenebrae services really makes holy week a long LONG week!

    The schola existed before I came on the scene, so I'm not sure how they got the interest, although I know that some members of the schola were former seminarians who kept the tradition alive among the faithful. The fact that the clergy sing Lauds, Vespers, and Compline in choir also helps keep the tradition strong.


    FYI: The only paid music personnel in the parish is myself, at the RCCO/AGO scale of only 10 hrs per week. Everyone else volunteers their time. It truly is a labour of love - but it's soooo worth it to put the effort in.

  • Aga
    Posts: 38

    thank you very much for your description. It is very impressive and I can only congratulate you for such achievements.
    I'd like to ask a few more questions (to gather experiences and to improve my work):
    - how many people are in the whole community and how many of them are engaged in the musical work?
    - are you supported by the priests (in what way: encouragement, active participation, organization)?
    - what is the dominant opinion in your community (between laity and priests) regarding music in the mass: do people treat beauty of liturgy as really important factor or do they neglect musical aspect of the celebration as a pure aestheticism?
    - what do you think about the opinion of the hierarchy of FSSPX in these matters?
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    the traditional roman hymnal put out by the sspx is absolutely dreadful. nice typesetting but the editors werent musicians. the part writing is so bad that much of it is unplayable. truly an embarrasement.
  • I have a copy of the Traditional Roman Hymnal in hand and I recommend it highly.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    you cannot be serious. take a look at page 123. compare the harmonization with whats found in any other hymnal. clumsy to the extream. compare page 50 with the bach harmonizsation (found in most hymnals). unnecessarily clumsy chord progressions. again and again end of phrases not in root position, 7th and 9th chords in renaissance tunes.
    sloppy and unnecessary. how can you approve of this?
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    also frogman
    explain the parralel 5th on the first full measure of page 49. (Oh Sacred Head) Why didnt they just use Bachs matchless setting? you approve of this?
  • Aga, the priests give their full support to the music of the parish. They regularly attend rehearsals of both the Senior and Junior Choirs, and take regular voice coaching lessons. There are 300 families in the parish (approximately 150 children in the school). As for the opinion regarding music - I can only give back the feedback that I receive: and it's overwhelmingly positive. The priests encourage regular attendance at Sunday Vespers. In fact, the priests (3 of them) sing lauds, vespers and compline in choir and encourage the faithful to attend. For Sunday vespers we usually have about 50 people singing the psalms. The fact that one of the priests was cantor/precentor at the Seminary (he has a gorgeous tenor voice) helps tremendously in raising the confidence level.

    As for the Roman Hymnal, I couldn't agree more with Don Roy. The chants are good, a nice selection of chants for the year, but the SATB writing is unpleasant at best and for the most part unsingable. There are plans for a group of organists and choirmasters to get together and compile a new book soon.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    thats great news. i agree that the roman hymnal has an excellent content with some gems of easy 4 part motets. the typsetting is great. what i dont understand is that why was there so much effort to make this hymnal look good yet nothing apparantly done to assure a decent harmonization. a first year theory student could have done better for petes sake.
    lets hope the new edition fixes this very glaring problem.
  • This chapel is extremely lucky to get so much for only 10 hours a week.
    Thanked by 1Carlos Foggin
  • zap1986
    Posts: 1
    Hi Aga,

    This discussion may be dead but on the off chance that someone wants to know the answer to the original question:
    " I am curious about potential impact of SSPX on liturgical music on the mainstream catholic worship. Does anyone know what is usual musical practice in SSPX chapels? Do they promote Gregorian Chant? What kind of music is preferred during the mass? Could you name some leading scholas/directors associated with SSPX?"

    I lead (or try to) a schola and choir in the SSPX mass centre in Winnipeg.

    Gregorian is dominant for the propers of the Mass (Introite, Gradual, Alleluia etc). We also sing hymns (polyphonic, unison) for the processional, recessional, offertory, communion. The chants would be the same as found here:
    With the exception of the processional and recessional we restrict ourselves to latin. For the processional and recessional we've sung hymns in english, french, german and latin.

    I saw some commentary about Fr. Lorber's CD's. My personal opinion is that with the exception of the kyrie cd (last in series) they are quite good. I don't understand the commentary about 'harmonization' ... unless ubi_quitous is referring to the organ accompaniment. For a small schola of 4 voices Ithink it is quite good and for a novice it can be a very good path to learning the cadence of the chant and pronounciation (sp).

    As far as other Mass centres, there is a wide variation in the singing, dependent upon the local talents.