Objections to Anglican chanting of the psalms
  • Objections to Anglican chanting of the psalms, quoted during sermon at Trinity Wall Street, NYC by Morgan Dix in 1867.

    "Objection I. Chanting is an innovation, and no novelties ought to be admitted into public worship. We can do well enough without chanting.
    "Objection II. Chanting is a Popish custom, and therefore it ought not to be admitted into our churches.
    "Objection III. The rubrics are more favorable to metre psalmody than they are to chanting.
    "Objection IV. We have a sufficient quantity of praise in our churches without chanting.
    "Objection V. Chanting takes up too much time.
    "Objection VI. So great is the difference between metre psalmody and chanting, that my ears can never be reconciled to it.
    "Objection VII. As I have neither voice nor ear for Music, if chanting be admitted into our churches, I shall be deprived of the benefit which I derive from responsive reading.
    "Objection VIII. I am too old, and it is too much trouble to learn to chant.
    "Objection IX. Let chanting be omitted during our lifetime (say some aged persons), and when we are gone hence let our posterity accept or reject it as they please.
    "Objection X. Chanting is a hindrance to devotion.
    "Objection XI. Prosaic psalmody is not so edifying as metre psalmody.
    "Objection XII. Chanting is not so animating as metre psalmody.
    "Objection XIII. It is inexpedient to use chanting, as there is no internal evidence in the prosaic subjects themselves that they ought to be sung.
    "Objection XIV. The English language is not sufficiently harmonious to admit of being sung in prose; and therefore, as poetry renders it more flowing and vocal, verse is better adapted to musical purposes.
    "Objection XV. Chanting cannot be introduced into a church without the aid of a choir, and choirs generally monopolize the singing.
    "Objection XVI. It is sufficient to chant one hymn at Morning, and another at Evening Prayer.
    "Objection XVII. No prayers ought to be sung; and therefore, as chanting embraces precatory subjects, it is improper to be admitted into the Church."

    From The History of the Past Fifty Years a History of Beneficial Change, Steady Growth, and Valuable Acquisitions.
    A Sermon for the Times, Preached in Trinity Church, New York, on the Feast of St. Mark, 1867.
    New York: Pott and Amery, 1867.

    Thanked by 1JonathanLC
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    "Anglicans" in this country seem to have a time-honored identity crisis. I remember a time when no self-respecting Episcopal priest would have allowed anyone to call him, "Father." They were not doing much, locally, to duplicate anything musically that the Latin Church was using. Now, they have all the trappings of Roman clergy and a taste for pomp and ceremony. Episcopalians, and I stress locally, seem to go through a Presbyterian phase when they shun the Catholic, then shift to a more "Anglo-Catholic" phase. They can't seem to make up their minds as to who and what they are.
  • These objections are useful for considering our present situation - just insert "Gregorian" before every "Chanting".

    They can't seem to make up their minds as to who and what they are.
    Charles, you are right...and this describes the current situation in the current Catholic churches as well. Chant, no chant. Cassocks, jeans and plaid work shirts."
  • mrcoppermrcopper
    Posts: 653
    Objection XVIII: As done by episcopalians (don't know about anglicans) in 4-part harmony with no relation to the text: it sounds horrible.
  • Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • rob
    Posts: 148

    Given your assertions regarding the diversity of the Anglicans -- especially in light of your expressed doubts that mrcopper has ever heard "actual" Anglican chant -- can you refer us to some example of a chant you would consider truly Anglican?

    I'm asking sincerely, in the hope of understanding the distinctions among the various traditions of Christian chant.
    Thanked by 1mrcopper
  • Just Google 'Anglican chant youtube' - or chant by King's College, etc.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    Scott, I was referring to Episcopalians in my area who more closely resemble the Scottish church in practice. That's not surprising since the original 18th century settlers here were from Scotland. Yes, I realize there is diversity in Anglicanism. So much so, that the old joke of Satan keeping the Anglican communion together to prove a house divided against itself can stand, is more true than funny. There are large rifts in the fabric of that big tent and the roof is seriously leaking. It also appears some of the more populous areas of that church are very near walking out the door. I have many Episcopalian friends, so I watch much of this firsthand. In the U.S. they have lost over one third of their members and the future does not look bright for the worldwide communion. I wish them well, but much is working against them. It is human nature, I suppose, but their worst enemy seems to be themselves.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,013
    Given that the C of E is a political rather than a theological creation, there's room for the whole theological gamut, from Calvinism to Wicca. I'm not going to stay up late worrying about schismatics reaping what they've sown. But I do strongly object to them making their buildings available for fauxrdinations of priestesses.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,100
    I'm not sure what has transpired above, but I can confirm that Anglican chant was heard briefly during the Colloquium Vespers at St. John Church. Dr. Mahrt's group sang the Magnificat verses in various modalities from organum to falsobordone and Anglican chant. It was completely ahistorical, of course, but served as a demonstration.

    We were also grateful for the generous welcome and collaboration provided by Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in Indianapolis, whose choir presented a service of Choral Evensong on the first evening, and whose organist Simon Jacobs presented an impressive recital durung the week.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Gavin
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    Anglican chant is beautiful, and much of their music puts many Catholic parishes to shame. There is no perfect place, however. They have their crazy people just like we do.
  • Anglican/Episcopalian churches are wonderful to work in.

    The music can vary from Music to music with a small M. Few of them fall as deeply into the mud as Catholic churches have musically.

    There are Episcopal/Anglican churches that you can walk into and think that you are at High Mass. This, of course, is also possible but a rarity at Catholic churches.

    Many, many fine people have left or been pushed from the Roman Catholic church and become Anglican/Episcopalian where they are welcomed. People who did this years ago would not have left or been pushed today....which raises the issue - why should the Catholic church take a stand on issues - mixed marriages between (horrors!) a Catholic and non-Catholic, causing many to leave the church of be estranged from it - and now today it's an everyday thing and very common with no social stigma.

    The music, the Anglican chant, the entire corpus of English Polyphony is the ideal adaption of music to English language text forms and the powers that be that create the hymnals have chosen to ignore it.

    Some Bishops, Priest and Cardinals are going to have some questions to answer someday.

    However, it is true that their crazy people almost invariably tend to be much more intelligent than the Catholic crazies. Which makes them much more enjoyable to deal with.

    I apologize for saying this for those it is going to _______ off, todays' Anglican/Episcopalians stand equally with God as today's Catholics. They just tend to have better music.

    I posted this from the 1800's because the same objections to Gregorian chant today appear in it, so it is not the Chant, it's the people.

    And, I'd say this about the Catholic's too:

    In the U.S. they have lost over one third of their members and the future does not look bright for the worldwide communion. I wish them well, but much is working against them. It is human nature, I suppose, but their worst enemy seems to be themselves.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    True, Noel, the Catholic Church has lost members. It is big enough to withstand the loss while the U.S. Episcopal church is less able to withstand it. It was never a huge church in the U.S. to begin with. I hope some of the hills they were willing to die on were worth it to them. I would say many Episcopal churches have good music, not all of them.
  • ...their crazy people almost invariably tend to be much more intelligent than the Catholic crazies. Which makes them much more enjoyable to deal with.

    How (generally) true. Intelligence does tend to cast irrationality in a better light. (At least, a more entertaining one.) The Anglican Church did indeed have such promise, which gave the Oxford Movement and Anglo-Catholic strands much hope for what many of us thought might be in the future, namely, a rapprochment between Canterbury and Rome. It seemed for a while to be possible, but all hopes have been dashed by the cruelties of chic liberalism which have led to the fraud of priestesses, the neutering of the dogmatics of the faith, and the pre-occupation with social issues over objective spiritual realities. I suspect that if tomorrow the Catholic Church were suddenly to start having beautiful 'solemn' masses with outstanding liturgical music and preaching, replete with real choirs, real organists, and real ecclesiastical music, it would be deluged with those Anglicans of genuine faith, and there would be nothing left in Anglicanism except their intelligent crazies, closet Baptists, unabashed Methodists, and unrepentent agnostics. We should all of us weep at the potential that has been shattered.

    Thanks, Noel, for your observations.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    Interesting, Jackson, that many of their best people have formed independent Anglican churches. Then there is the Ordinariate which is doing quite well, I hear. I don't have an Ordinariate parish to observe in my city, but there is an independent Anglican congregation. They are too Protestant in nature to ever consider Catholicism, I would think. There is a former Episcopal parish 25 miles away that left and the entire parish converted to the Orthodox Church in America.

    I have many Episcopal friends and some of them are heartbroken over the craziness. On the other hand, those Sierra Club ladies that left Catholicism and became Episcopalians caused great rejoicing when they departed. They were as loopy as the strings in their Reeboks.
  • A priest in this diocese Charles was permitted, encouraged by the bishop to explore starting an Anglican Use here - there is one in Nashville, about 90 miles from here.

    Once things were ready, bishop said, "Oh, but not yet..."

  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    I know that priest and am familiar with the situation. I am hoping that works out.
  • "Oh, but not yet..."

    Um, let's see, er... ah... who was it who said '...but not yet'?
    Uh, Augustine of Hippo, I believe.... yes, it was he: yes: 'heal me, but not yet'.
  • rob
    Posts: 148
    So, MJO, at your suggestion I googled -- and much enjoyed -- "Anglican Chant", "King's College".

    I hear English, harmonized, and exclusively male voices.

    Are these what make the chant "Anglican"?

    Is there a Catholic chant which might possess one or more of these characteristics?

    What, specifically, defines one chant as "Anglican" and another as "Catholic"?


  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,121
    Anglican chant is a (typically 4-part) vocally harmonized chant form developed in England, as distinguished from (typically vocally unharmonized) Gregorian chant (from which it is derived). "Catholic" chant is somewhat of a misnomer, in that there are actually many kinds of chant employed in Catholic liturgy, of which Gregorian chant is perhaps the most prominent.

    In simplest terms, Anglican Single Chant consists of:

    1) a reciting tone
    2) two passing tones
    3) a semicadence
    4) a reciting tone
    5) four passing tones
    6) a cadence.

    The pattern may be doubled for a Double Chant, or even tripled or quadrupled in some examples (Triple Chant or Quadruple Chant).

    When chanting a Psalm with an Anglican Single Chant, the first half of a verse (up to the *) is chanted to the semicadence, and the rest of the verse to the cadence. The passing tones typically have one syllable each, but in practice, sometimes two syllables will be sung to a tone. Additionally, sometimes, a syllable will be slurred over two passing tones. The semicadence or cadence will typically be given one word or syllable, although there may be more syllables if the final stress occurs on the penultimate or (rarely) even the prepenultimate syllable. The process of assigning syllables to the notes of a chant is called "pointing" (as it is for Gregorian chant) - and there are often different ways to point the same text.

    There are other issues, such as what to do if there are too few syllables in a semiverse, or variant/hybrid forms (eg. two semicadences each with two passing tones), but this should give one the general idea.
  • rob
    Posts: 148
    Thank you so much.

    I honestly had no idea: I would have thought before that "Anglican chant" merely referred to chant sung by Anglicans.

    I suppose, then, that there would be no reason it could not be employed in a Catholic liturgy.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,100
    Right. First, it's standard procedure in Anglican-use Masses offered in the Catholic Church. Also, probably a few members of this forum have used Anglican-style chant for a Responsorial Psalm in conventional parish Masses.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    I have said before that when we went from Latin to English we should have looked to an Anglican model. They already had well-developed English chant, anthems and hymns. Instead, our leaders looked to amateurish people who had no idea what they were doing and in some instances, precious little talent and ability to do any of it with.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I tend to assume the word "Anglican" refers to the English language, not to the Anglican Communion.
  • Without the Anglican Communion, there would be no Anglican Chant.
  • I have said before that when we went from Latin to English we should have looked to an Anglican model. They already had well-developed English chant, anthems and hymns.

    I've said this to many people as well. We had a model for how English psalmody was done well, and we passed on it.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,071
    In a name that is familiar to many CMAAers, my predecessor Cal Shenk (RIP) almost always used Anglican chant for the verses of the responsorial psalm at Mass. I was actually discussing this with one of our cantors today!
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,013
    Anglican chant bears the same relation to falsobordones as free Mass composition does to Masses on a cantus firmus. The use of harmonized Gregorian psalm tones is almost completely extinct. If we want to employ something like Anglican chant, why don't we try something that sounds similar, but has a pure Catholic pedigree?
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Liam
  • Jeffrey, please explain what you would do differently? How could it be done, what's your plan?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,121
    Anglican chant is a free compositional form, with the melody and harmonization completely at the whim of the composer. Harmonized Gregorian Psalm tones are a different matter, since the number of tones is limited, which then constrains the choices that the composer has.

    But I agree in principle with Jeffrey. Perhaps something like the attached 3-part harmonization of the Mode III tone for the Psalm verses of the Introit or Communion is a long the lines of what Jeffrey had in mind (the example is taken from my Communio "Gustate et videte" posted elsewhere here and also at CPDL).
    Thanked by 1JonathanLC
  • Please explain 'pure Catholic pedigree'.

    This could be problematical due to scads of things the Church has borrowed and baptised over the centuries. It has even baptised a goodly part of the Anglican spiritual patrimony by the creation of the Anglican Personal Ordinariates, which makes Anglican chant quite Catholic (as if it wasn't already).
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,100
    Of course we must veto a harmonization if a non-Catholic composer wrote it! It is tainted.

    But what if the organ was built by a non-Catholic? (Gasp!)
  • lhouston58
    Posts: 52
    "In a name that is familiar to many CMAAers, my predecessor Cal Shenk (RIP) almost always used Anglican chant for the verses of the responsorial psalm at Mass."

    This is the norm at Grace (Episcopal) Cathedral in San Francisco, and it works quite well.
    Here is an example from today's Eucharist (chant by John Fenstermaker):


    The order of service:

    http://www.gracecathedral.org/file/Service Leaflets/srv_leaflet.pdf

    I've never heard the responsorial psalm sung in this manner in a Catholic church, but then, not many Episcopal churches sing the psalms this way.
    Thanked by 2BruceL JonathanLC
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,013
    Yes, Charles, that's just the thing, and nicely done. The Renaissance examples generally had more metrical sections and voice independence, but it's certainly not an essential of the style.

    I didn't think my proposal would incite controversy. I have nothing agains Anglican chant in Catholic churches, and I don't think we have to keep kosher about where anything comes from. But if there's a distinctively Catholic alternative for something, why not use it? After all, the Protestantization of the Faith in more important matters has worked so well for us.

    Implementation is largely an accessibility issue: Anglican chants are far easier to find, esp. in pre-pointed forms.
  • While I like what CHGiffin has composed, it still can get complicated for the singers juggling the added notes needed.

    Since Anglican chant is based on ten note patterns, the singer's brain does not have to deal with the visual aspect of added notes, instead the only have to process fitting the syllables to the notes.

    So the brain is not trying to connect notation of notes and word patterns.

    Singers CAN write in note patterns if they like, and word patterns can vary with the regions and speech patterns.

    But to make it all work all that you need is a leader who can stick with a pattern, demonstrate it and then correct them until it sinks in.

    Since the psalm is sung...and antiphon...to the same melody in AC, there is no need for the multiple endings required to match the modal melodies that begin and end on different notes of antiphons.

    It's a simple system - 10 notes to learn, 4 for the first phrase, 6 for the second, each one a simple chord progression that is highly metric with the freedom of singing as many syllables needed on the first note of each group, and then fitting the final syllables to fit the remaining 3 and 5 notes.

    Thanked by 2CHGiffen mgearthman
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,900
    But to make it all work all that you need is a leader who can stick with a pattern, demonstrate it and then correct them until it sinks in.

    Dang! Now you have to go and make it hard!
  • CGM
    Posts: 643
    I've been harmonizing Gregorian plainchant tones for awhile, for use at the Gospel Acclamation. The antiphon melodies are from the Lumen Christi Missal, and I change them seasonally. Here are a few recent ones.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,176
    Sometimes English works with Gregorian Psalm-tones (Ig, II, V, VI, VIIIG, and Peregrinus all work exceeding well; III, IV, & VII less so), I have found that it is important to have a tone that really fits with English accentuation just as innately as the Gregorian tones fit with Latin accentuation. Therefore, anything that supports a natural inflexion of the English language is a goodly thing - whether is is Anglican Chant, the Meinrad Tones, or the Tones by Fr. Weber, OSB, and Adam Bartlett in SEP or the Lumen Christi books.

    Ten chords in G-minor written by an Anglican Cathedral Organist are no more Protestant than Ten chords in G-minor written by a Benedictine Schola Director are Catholic.
  • Amen! Those who chortle that the Gregorian psalm tones aren't compatable with the English tongue have never seriously tried them. Anglicans have been singing the psalms (Miles Coverdale and others) to the Gregorian tones for ages. I have recently had success using the Revised Grail Psalter to the Gregorian tones. Every Catholic choirmaster should have a copy of St Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter, available from the Lancelot Andrewes Press, in his or her library (if not issued to all of his choir members, or even in the pews!).

    As Salieri stresses, some Gregorian tones work better (generally) than others; but, depending on the psalm, the translation, and the length of the half-verses, they can all be used with success. As with all things musical, taste, musicianly artfulness, and an earnest (serious!) effort at beautifully rhythmic delivery are the deciding factors.
  • A P.S. -
    About some of the simpler psalm tone systems in current usage, one offers the observation that they don't begin to be as satisfying on a musical, spiritual, or liturgical level as the Gregorian tones. While they can be pleasing for a period, after a while they really become rather tiring; not to mention insulting to the cadence to which our tongue is capable. One is left thirsting for more substance, more craft. As an introduction to psalm singing they may be helpful... but sadly, as often happens, the 'introduction' is as far as some sometimes get. The Gregorian tones are the 'real thing' and their use should be far more widely taught... in Latin and in English.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • tsoapm
    Posts: 79
    1) a reciting tone
    2) two passing tones
    3) a semicadence
    4) a reciting tone
    5) four passing tones
    6) a cadence.
    At the risk of feeling like something of an impostor, I wonder if someone would be so good as to dumb this down for this tenor with no formal music education. Is saying semicadence and cadence like saying V chord and I chord in this context?

    This would help me talk about pointing with our maestro in Italian, I think.
    Thanked by 1JonathanLC
  • @tsoapm

    A semicadence or half-cadence is a musical cadence that does not end on the tonic note or on a root-position tonic harmony such as V - I or IV - I etc.
  • tsoapm
    Posts: 79
    Thank you.

    Perhaps what I want is 3) dominante and 6) cadenza then.

    I expect it’ll all come out in the wash.
  • Of course, a separate sheet with alternate single chant tunes serves once your choir/cantors (hi, carol!)/congregation truly master singing the 10 pitches of this one.
    Thanked by 2irishtenor jefe
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,278
    Whoa, I didn't see that before, FrogMan! Thanks!
  • The link I sent in the past postings was just Year C - this is all three years.

    Note that these may be sung melody only with organ, SA with organ, SAB with organ and SATB with organ. And...horrors, ALL of these may be sung Unaccompanied.

    Anyone who uses these, we'd love to hear a recording.