Something that'd be REALLY helpful, I think
  • I'm a campus minister at a liberal arts college, and we're hoping to develop a great music program starting with chant and moving toward polyphony. The problem is, when I look at the extraordinary number of chant books and everything else, I find myself overwhelmed. My chaplaincy work means that I'm spending time counseling students, attending meetings, and doing all sorts of other stuff. What I need, simply, is something that puts the whole thing together each week. The big hymnal publishers do this with the contemporary stuff-- you can go onto their sites and get their list of suggested hymns and mass settings. If the music provided weren't so awful, this would be a great resource. I know that Cantica Nova does a nice thing with traditional hymns and other choral stuff. But man-- try to pull this all together with a chant-centered music program and it's pretty tough.

    SO... is there a user-friendly resource I can go to to help me find all the music-- especially the chants--for next week's mass? It'd be really helpful to find something in English and Latin and in modern notation, at least while we're at the beginner level.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Mark, it isn't in modern notation (and I'd argue that to get serious with music you should learn chant notation), but the "Gregorian Missal" available from GIA is the best resource you can get. It's got all the chants for the ordinary form of the Mass along with translations and everything. It may sound too good to be true, but that book really is all you need for Sunday Mass.
  • Mark, good on ya, mate.

    Some questions/observations:

    1. Because you've examined "chant books" like a graduale or liber, etc., you do know that proficiency with reading Gregorian neumes is a basic, right? If not, it's not the end of the world- there are websites and older hymnals that have certain chants "interpreted" in modern notation.
    2. The "thing" about those hymnal resources is that they exist to accomodate the hundreds of repertoire programming possibilities that are options OTHER THAN using the assigned texts of the Sunday or Feast, the Propers: Introit/Gradual/Offertory/Communion antiphons.
    If I'm hearing you correctly, you want to use these Propers, if at all possible. There really isn't such a chant/motet resource for Propers. You just use settings of those.
    3. A Graduale Simplex is a starting point. All of the major publishers offer them, as does CMAA. However, verses for the antiphons aren't published in the simplex.
    4. Dr. Kurt Poterack of CMAA compiled a fairly comprehensive collection of the Proper Communion antiphons for the 3 year lectionary cycle/and the EF that have the verses, titled COMMUNIO. But, again, notation isn't modern as you ask for.
    For my groups, I "transcribe" the antiphon from COMMUNIO into 5 staff, modern notehead notation and try to use tenuto and other markings for nuancing the declamation flow and stressation. The verses are canted by the more experienced singers, reading neumes.
    5. Visit and examine their bookstore, very helpful, as is CanticaNova will both chant resources and lists of polyphonic motet settings of Propers and Masses.
  • Oh, and OCP has a new, softcover chant book I recently got a copy of that looks promising, might even use modern notation. I'll check on it tomorrow in the office and post Wednesday.
  • And yet: there is no substitute for learning neumes. You will spend far more time digging for resources than it takes to just learn a bit about solfeg and modes. There are quick tutorials all over the place. Google "Idiot's Guide to Square Notes" (the title is not meant to imply anything about people who can't read neumes; it is just a popular motif.)
  • I concur with the above comments that emphasize the importance of learning neumes.

    One online resource that helped me learn how to sight-read them is the Gregorian Chant page on ChristusRex. Granted, I knew how to read modern notation already, and I had a Liber Usualis on hand (with its chant method in the front of the book), but this site will allow you to read the notation (in GIF format) while listening to the actual chant (in MP3 format). The webmaster had the presence of mind to place the chants according to the Sundays/holy days of the year (in both the Novus Ordo and Tridentine cycles), so in addition to acquiring a Gregorian Missal and a chant tutorial, this could be a key resource in your acquisition of the chant.

    It may also be a good resource to people new to your group/Gregorian chant. Baptism by immersion, as it were.
  • I concur with both of you fine gentleman regarding neume necessity!
    Just trying to help Mark out a tad.
    There are two more little volumes in modern notation:
    OCP-"Laus Tibi Christe"
    WLP-"A Simple Kyriale" (J.Michael Thompson)
    Another option not discussed thus far, and not without problems (that would likely not affect your goals in the near future) would be to examine
    "By Flowing Waters" LitPress by Paul Ford
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    The funny thing about modern notation chant is that, to teach it, you have to refer back continually to neumatic singing. "That squiggly thing above the staff? That's a quilisma. Um, well..." Etc. You end up smuggling back in a lot of neumatic interpretation to make it sound right. Why not just cut to the chase?

    I realize I'm largely preaching to the schola here.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Mark's initial request is for a one-stop shop for next week's chanted-and-maybe-some-polyphony Mass.

    Maybe it would help if we just starting posting the pew booklets that we make. Nothing teaches like a good example? Mark, would that help?

    Otherwise, Mark, your main resources for an OF Mass would be these:

    - the Adoremus hymnal prints the (approved) Order of Mass with chant notation for the dialogues and responses -- there are also booklets available from churches doing all this

    - the Kyriale has settings of the Ordinary

    - the Graduale has the Propers; go to CanticaNova and get their translation of the Graduale's Latin apparatus so you know how to use it

    - or, you can just go here for all the Masses of the liturgical year with images of the chants used and mp3 files (of varying quality) for audio

    - Cecilia Schola Cantorum has a nice online collection of basic polyphony

    - is a treasure trove of polyphony

    Keep us posted on your progress.
  • Of course there is another problem with modern notes. The chant will never sound right. But that's another subject.
  • BTW the Adoremus Hymnal is in great need of expansion. I use it all the time, but it needs more good traditional hymns to fill out needs of the year.

  • Pew booklets: I'd love to see what people are doing. At St. John Neumann in Knoxville, Tenn., we've prepared a hymnal insert that includes the refrains for all the Chabanel psalms through Easter. We'll probably end up doing a whole lot more handouts to defuse the criticism that occurs when we sing in Latin . . . so yes, examples of pew booklets and handouts would be very helpful.
  • Thank you, Mary. I am glad you are using the Chabanel Psalms!

    By the way:

    Just in time for Advent! The Chabanel Psalms site [ Chabanel Psalms ] has what a Church director needs for Advent.

    Posted there are:

    hymns [ hymns ] for Advent (in various keys, with scores for vocalist and organist);

    Responsorial Psalms for Advent in Year A [ year A ];

    Seasonal Responsorial Psalms [ Seasonal Psalms ];

    several somber, Advent-worthy, and chant-like Mass settings [ 2 ADVENT HYMNS you probably don't know ];

    and even selections in Spanish [ Spanish Mass for ADVENT ].

    Also, there are some Eucharistic Hymns people might like: [ Beautiful Eucharistic Hymns ]
  • "4. Dr. Kurt Poterack of CMAA compiled a fairly comprehensive collection of the Proper Communion antiphons for the 3 year lectionary cycle/and the EF that have the verses, titled COMMUNIO."

    Ahem... well, I wouldn't want to accuse Dr. Poterack of something he's not responsible for. In any event, the book is available at the CMAA website bookstore.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I'll say it: Communio is the magnificent work of none other than our indefatigable, meticulous, always-thoughtful, and incredibly generous Richard Rice!
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    I use the Communio assembled by R. Rice every time my schola sings! Bravo Richard
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Getting back to Mark's original question, for extreme short term I agree with Laus Tibi Christe. It only costs about $3 and it's not bad for starters. But it's basically a tricycle with training wheels and dad running alongside.

    For your next step take advantage of the many online resources before you start picking up $25 hymnals for each member of the schola (or church!). And do take the time to learn the chant notation. It's alien at first, but in a short time you'll find it's WAY better for the chant and much easier to teach to the rest of the schola.
  • My very bad, gentlepersons and Mr. Rice, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
  • I'm with priorstf on this. Several of my schola guys don't read modern music at all, but they are getting quite comfortable with neumes.

  • I've just joined the forum. Hello everyone. Having served as an altar boy in my youth in the late 50's, I had to lean Latin-at least the Mass texts and rubrics. In the las few years I've become rather unsettled with the sacred Music scene here in the Los Angeles archdiocese (it's gone on for too long). If one wants to hear chant one must scour the archdiocese to find a Mass that offers it-most likely it might be just a Kyrie and then the kum-by-yah stuff for the rest of the Mass. I will stop here as we have all seen this. My concern is this: most web sites (on chant) offer so many chant options, that like Mr. shiner above,the beginner is soon swallowed up in complete and total confusion as to where to begin. What is needed desperately is a website (by each and every Parish-mandated by the bishop) that will teach all in the diocese THE SAME Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc for one Mass, say once a month. We must learn with baby steps. The average parishoner has no idea what a neum is, but if shown could probably sing one. I am not in the least a proficient singer, yet let someone intone the Pange Lingua and suddenly, if I can keep from crying, I can sing all of it without any text or notation. My point is this dear lovers of chant - that most of the people haven't a clue yet, could have and are dying for the sacred...if only someone would make a standard ' Do this if you are an absolute beginner parish' website for all beginner Parishes to follow.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    John H:

    I'm 101% in agreement about that need. Going through it at the moment. here's a very basic suggestion I would make for the group just getting started:

    1. Laus Tibi Christi. About 50 hymns, Mass parts, etc., in modern notation. $3.00 each from OCP:

    2. An Idiot's Guide to Square Notes, 6 pages. FREE download :

    3. Jubilate Deo, 44 pages. FREE download:

    4. Gloria Patri tones, 2pages, FREE download: (Often referred to as psalm tones.)

    The first of these will get you off the ground with common chants in a musical format familiar to those who can read music.

    It will take some convincing to take the next step and learn to read Gregorian notation (thanks for the convincing, Kathy!) but once you make the breakthrough chant becomes much easier. So go for it.

    Numbers 2-4 will keep your schola busy for the first year, and provide enough variety to sing for almost any occasion.

    For the leader(s) of the schola I recommend the Graduale Romanum ($42.00 from OCP: This has the weekly and daily chants for the liturgical year. Check out the 7 Communio that are considered appropriate at any time through the year; you can add them when your schola starts building confidence.

    In the meanwhile, if demand for your services becomes weekly, the Graduale Simplex ($30.00 from OCP: has the year's liturgy in the psalm tones you all learned in #4 above.

    Also, get ye to one or more of the workshops held around the country throughout the year. There's one coming up in Colorado Springs in mid-January, and others sprouting up all over the place. The more of your schola-ites, the better.

    Then attend the big conference in Chicago next summer.You'll be ready to plan out your second year!
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    priorstf, I think it would be helpful to John and anyone else to whom you offer assistance if you would include some information on how to use psalm tones. I am only now figuring them out (and probably doing it all wrong anyway) because there is NO guide out there on how to use them. If you have one to offer, you should include it in your list, since psalm tones are immensely valuable for chanting anything, from psalms to proper to ordinary.
  • Priorstf and Gavin: Thanks so much for your responses. I will look into your suggestions. I prefer to have Gregorian notation whenever I look at chant -even if I don't completlely understand the rules behind it. Gavin mentioned the issue of psalm tones and that is something I know I need to understand better. I am most greatfull for this forum and the wealth of information and help I find here. I shall be checking in often. Pax et Bonum to all.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    Right on, John H! This is something I struggle with a great deal. I bow to the incredible experience represented by many here in the forum, but it also can make me reluctant to pipe up and ask a basic question. I've definitely struggled with things like how to tradeoff the conflicting desires of our schola members, priests, director of music, and parish. And how to translate resources of the Tridentine Mass into the Novus Ordo environment. Heck, I hate to admit that until October I'd never even SEEN a Tridentine Mass.

    If this group helps supply resources for newbie schola directors - and how to sing is only a limited part of that - I'd be eternally grateful! And I expect there's probably a lot more of us nervous and inexperienced directors out there.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    John H and Carl D, I put together a little PowerPoint tutorial on reading chant notation here specifically for complete beginners. I'm collecting feedback on how it could be improved. The obvious improvement will be the inclusion of audio (!). But if there are other things that are unclear about the presentation, or any general feedback, please let me know at pespodatus at gmail dot com. Thanks!
  • Nervous and inexperienced choir directors are the foundation of the future. I was just discussing this with someone yesterday, and my strong feeling is that there is no substitute for the week-long colloquium provided by the CMAA.
  • I agree with Jeffrey. Everyone here started somewhere and most of us still remember those first attempts very clearly! For me, The CMAA Colloquium filled in the practical piece that was missing from my chant knowledge. It was fabulous to have people around who really knew the Solemnes method so that I could learn first-hand. I can't recommend the Gregorian Chant Masterclass (from Abbey of Regina Laudis) enough. The CD really provides excellent aural examples. Also listening the with all the chant they play really drives it home.

  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    All the above will be useful.

    I'm a bit surprised that no one mentioned the Liber Cantualis (Solesmes, sold here by GIA)--several Ordinaries, lots of short Gregorian hymns (and some longer ones.)

    VERY useful for an entire liturgical year, about $15.00 each.
  • marek
    Posts: 17
    Very nice explanation of psalmody is here: . And I believe that psalmody is where beginners should start.
  • For Sundays and Holy Days the Gregorian Missal is about the best that you will find
    for an affordable resource. Google "Martin B. Hellriegel" and check out his writings on introducing chant to his parish in the 1940's. I had the good fortune to
    work and study with him when I was in grad school. What we are facing today isn't new! Others have gone through it also. The wonderful work that Fr. Frank
    is doing at St. John Cantius in Chicago was inspired by Msgr. Hellriegel. His work
    can be very inspiring and reassuring to the young priest or director as well as for
    those of us to have been in the trenches.
  • I am thinking you can buy the Graduale Romanum, Gregorian Missal, Liber Cantualis, Cantus Selecti, etc. directly from the publisher, Paraclete Press at (unless I am mistaken).
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    There's a Hellriegel article online at:
  • Hope I am not too off-topic, but I have been reading the posts from well-trained musicians bemoaning the lack of a choir and choirs lacking trained directors and often schola and director lacking a supportive pastor and so wish we could put them together more efficiently :)
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Well, Janetgorbitz, i did think of trolling for a job out on the sidewalk in front of St John Cantius when the seminar and training in the sung Mass for priests was held there in October.;-)
    I figured I could hold a hand-made cardboard sign that said "Will Chant for Food"....
    But that would be deceptive, (and unfair to any pastor who fell for it..) I don't really want another job, what I want is to stop being a director, start being a chorister again, and to sit in the back row and learn from someone who knows what he's doing.