Good Friday discussion (yes, I know it's not seasonal)
  • mediantmediant
    Posts: 12
    Hi, all,

    I'm new to this forum. Thanks to Richard Chonak and others for getting my account working at last!

    I serve in a stable city parish of about 1200 families in a small manufacturing city. We use organ and the 3rd ed Missal/ICEL chants at every Mass, and at our Solemn Mass on Sundays/feast days, the schola sings propers from the Graduale and the choir sings Polyphonic anthems ranging from Victoria to Howells. Our Schola sings Gregorian Compline on Sunday nights and a full Gregorian Mass on first Saturdays. We use regular Missalettes and WLP We Celebrate Hymnals. So in some ways the program is ordinary, and that's ok because we're really a mainstream parish.

    Anyhow, on to the topic:

    Good Friday is a particularly interesting liturgy each year. It's interesting to me because the Gradual and Missal are completely explicit about every detail of the music, but most music directors punt, singing "Were you there" or "O Sacred Head" or "God So Loved the World" and other nice old chestnuts not from our tree. Comments on the topic from otherwise reasonable music directors ranged from "I don't think that would work here" to "those reproaches are too Old-Testamenty" to "Nobody likes that stuff."

    So I took this as a challenge. I wanted to see if it was possible to sing a beautiful and moving Good Friday liturgy for workaday parishioners in this beer town, while following faithfully the order of music in the Graduale Romanum. And of course, we had to accomplish all of this in the perfect liturgical timeframe-- not too long, not too short (and really the gregorian settings were too long in our case). And as an educator and a pastorally-minded person, I thought it important to use English in the Reproaches if possible.

    Here's what we did:
    Gregorian-style Chanted Passion in English with Victoria Choruses in English (published by GIA
    Gregorian Crucem Tuam in English (set by me, see attached) image
    Gregorian Trisagion in Greek, Latin, and English (first time in all three languages, then English only thereafter; set in English by me, see attached) image
    Victoria Popule Meus in English together with English reproaches (set by me to Tonus Peregrinus for brevity; see attached)imageimage
    Gregorian Crux Fidelis in Latin (entire)

    As it worked out, the amount of music was perfectly appropriate for about 350 people at our 3pm liturgy. As soon as everyone had venerated the Holy Cross, we were singing the doxology of Crux Fidelis.

    I welcome your thoughts and I'm wondering what solutions the rest of you have found for this important day.
    Thanked by 2bkenney27 CHGiffen
  • Heath
    Posts: 857
    Mediant, welcome to the forum! Your GF program and adaptations look great!
    Thanked by 1mediant
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Outstanding planning and programming, in concert with both the Church and the needs of the Faithful. Welcome and congratulations.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen mediant
  • Commendable!

    As for those who chortle that 'nobody likes that stuff', this translates as 'I don't know that stuff and don't like it and therefore everybody doesn't like it - and, you're not doing it on my turf'. Don't listen to them. They really have no idea what they are talking about.

    As for doing the Gregorian in English, which is a valid option, are you aware that all the Good Friday music has been adapted to English in the Palmer-Burgess Plainchant Gradual, available as a reprint from the CMAA? And, if the Gregorian originals are not appropriate for your parish at present, psalm-tone versions are provided.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen mediant
  • Mediant, (Joel?)

    With the other comments, I welcome you to the forum.
    Like them, I think you have done a tremendous piece of work, both in the tight-rope act, and in the results.

    I don't think I would have rendered every single syllable exactly as you did, in terms of pointing, but clearly you've made intelligent sense out of the texts. Far too often the music and the text end up being betrayed in this effort.

    I didn't have the challenge you did, since, in the EF, we don't have the translation issue which was your starting point.

    Well done.

    God bless,


    (star-watchers have noticed that Melofluent and I have managed to agree yet again!)
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen mediant
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    All things are possible in Christ, Chris!
    I mean, we ARE Californians, yes? We have to witness solidarity in the public square, mon frere.
    Thanked by 1mediant
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    Beautiful beautiful. What software did you use to write your own chants? Welcome, from a very experience member;
    Thanked by 1mediant
  • mediantmediant
    Posts: 12
    Thanks all for the kind comments!

    I use Fr. Columba Kelly's St. Meinrad Font, which I purchased from the abbey almost ten years ago. I don't know if it's still available or of subsequent revisions have been made. It's quite comprehensive, and since it's a true-type font, it can be used in Microsoft Word or any other word processing software.

    The work of Palmer and Burgess is fantastic, and it astounds me that their English Adaptations of the chant weren't consulted for our Roman rite. My settings needed to be completely obedient to the text and English translations in the 3rd Roman Missal, so some of the Palmer and Burgess stuff wouldn't work.

    Chris, as you mentioned, it's hard to be faithful to both text and melody. As you notice on the Crucem Tuam, I had to cut out some of the melismatic material from the Latin original.

    A lifetime ago I served as director and organist at an EF Mass in California; I think the liturgical culture is quite different in EF parishes in one key respect: People are willing to stay longer, to take initiative to pray even when things are quiet, to wait while the choir finishes the anthem or chant, etc. There isn't a sense of alarm if people need to sit for a few minutes while the liturgy catches up; a sense of piety and reverence fill the gaps.

    In mainstream OF parishes (like my current digs), people get anxious and fussy if things take too long. Perhaps it's because the OF liturgy is less monastic/contemplative and more demonstrative (I guess more in the "cathedral" tradition?). If something isn't being demonstrated, spoken, or sung, people lose focus. So Jackson, all that is to say "doing everything in the missal" in OF liturgies is always tempered by the realism of shorter attention spans. This was a big part of the challenge with Good Friday.

    Anyhow I really welcome your thoughts on this important day. What works for you? What are you able to accomplish?

  • Joel,

    Specific suggestions:

    In the Crucem Tuam, the last line of the antiphon has one too many notes. "To the...." really should have one note each.

    In the first two Reproaches, surely English emphasis is on the first syllable of Savior? The way you have it written, the word is pronounced say-VYOR.

    I'll keep looking to see if there are other specific improvements.

    God bless,

  • Pages 69–70 of this PDF contain my adaptations of the Crucem tuam and Improperia from the Graduale Simplex, which use the approved English translations. (Attached is a square-note representation of the Crucem tuam.)

    In years past we have used:

    • my Latin setting of the Crucem tuam [PDF; video below], the Improperia in English and Greek according to the 1985 ICEL Sacramentary translation and melody, and a few verses of the Crux fidelis in English as found in the current ICEL translation.
    • The Improperia in English and Greek according to the new ICEL translation and old ICEL melody [PDF] (no Crucem or Crux fidelis).

    We may use the Victoria setting next year (suitably lowered for our choir, languages TBD) with the 1985 Sacramentary melody for the (English) verses. If we can't pull those off, we have enough to fall back on. The Veneration of the Cross doesn't take particularly long in our case, so it's more of a choice of which appointed texts to sing than how best to sing all of them.

    Fun fact: In our Good Friday programs I use the Greek alphabet for the "Hagios…" as well as call attention to John 19:20.
  • mediantmediant
    Posts: 12
    Aristotle, nice work. It reminded me of some fauxbourdon settings of the Nicene Creed. I guess my goals were clearly to keep as much of the original melody and Gregorian character as possible. With that in mind, there are often portions of the Latin original that have melodic stress on weak syllables in the text (i.e. the Latin portions of the Hagios O Theos), so Christine I don't think my use of two notes on "the" is unappropriate. I suppose it could be a problem if you're following Old Solesmes rather strictly... and that's okay. Perhaps Fr. Columba Kelly and others would agree with you. Don't you think, though, that most scholas would be attentive to these details and wouldn't emphasize the weak syllables even if the melodic stress were there?