2-Person Choir
  • So the "choir" shows up tomorrow. Ah, It consists of two people this week. Lovely. So, what are my options? Do I direct a two-person "choir"? Should the three of us gather around the mic? Should I cantor/song-lead and they sing back-up? (Oh, and the organist will be a no-show.)
    I am frantically attempting to learn the ICEL chanted Mass (in English) right now, seeing as the only, what do you call them, "Ordinaries"? (we call them acclamations, for lack of a better term) we know are all written for instruments. Or, perhaps, I'll suggest to the Father that a spoken Mass would be the best option here...
  • I currently have 4 people in my choir on a regular basis. After 4 weeks of announcement bulletins as well, still no one is coming forward. I have gone to a rotating cantor along with the choir singing occasionally (probably twice a month) the children's choir sings one Sunday a month and the other Sunday will be cantored with no choir. We are just starting up choir season next Sunday with rehearsal this coming Monday night. It's hard finding rep for 4 people. We are sticking to the 4 hymn routine for now. That still does not stop me from doing new music and hymns every so often!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Three people can be a lovely schola for Mass. Also, don't forget that the three of you are not the only ones singing - there is a congregation as well.

    Learch the ICEL chant Mass from the Roman Missal, and make sure your congregation knows it.

    Tomorrow (next week, etc.), and until you can manage more, just sing four solid hymns that the congregation might sing with you, sing a simple Alleluia at the Gospel (such as the Mode VI one that EVERYBODY knows), and sing the Responsorial Psalm out of the Chabanel Psalms or your Respond and Acclaim book I'm sure you have in your music room.

    Sometime in the future, replace a hymn with a Proper from the Simple English Propers or the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual. I'd do the Offertory to start. Then once you've started doing that for a while, replace the Communion. Then, in a few more months, the Introit. Sing a nice hymn at the dismissal (Holy God We Praise Thy Name, etc.) or the seasonal Marian hymn (Salve Regina, etc.). Do it unaccompanied. Learn some three-part or two-part harmony that's easy.

    Don't use the microphone.

    Read this:
    http://www.chantcafe.com/2014/06/what-ive-learned-in-12-years.html
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    It's hard finding rep for 4 people. We are sticking to the 4 hymn routine for now.


    I'm sorry, but this makes no sense to me.

    Chant can be done by one person, or two, or three. With four people you could sing antiphonally.
  • OK, you've both actually given me a couple of good ideas.
    We tried a rotating schedule, where one cantor committed to 4 Sundays/month, but I think that may have been a bit too much for them, especially seeing as none of them have any real musical training. I'd love to have rehearsals, but none of them can agree to a day of the week we can all meet. (sigh)

    Question Adam: How long does it take to teach the ICEL chant Mass to a congregation? Do I sing it tomorrow, or a month from now, or introduce it as one part every week?

    I had to look up Simple English Propers. Found one on YouTube. Absolutely beautiful. Also had to look up Lumen Christi Simple Gradual. Awesome. So, excuse my ignoramus, but does "Proper" mean a single piece, and "gradual" mean, like more than one, or perhaps the four layer sandwich? (I was raised in that funny generation where we never learned the Rosary, and Latin was officially a dead language used only by doctors. But boy, those Medical Mission Sisters could rock their guitars...)
  • donr
    Posts: 969
    PurpleSquirrel,
    The propers are exactly what they sound like, they are Proper to do at certain points of a Mass.
    The Ordinary are parts of a Mass that do not change like the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei (words don't change not the music necessarily).
    The Proper are the parts of the Mass that do change every week (words). Like the Entrance Chant, the Responsoral Psalm, the Alleluia Verse, the Offertory Chant, the Communion Chant and some would say the Priests prays for the day.

    The ICEL chant is very easy, You should be able to learn it and teach it to the congregation right away.

  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    YES, just start singing the ICEL chants. We do these without accompaniment sometimes and the people SING! They are easy. They are not high, nor too low. They have no weird rhythms and they won't remind of of jingles or radio songs. They mirror the Latin chants too, so they are a brilliant way to introduce the Latin chants without even introducing the dreaded Latin language! They are perfect for the Novus Ordo English Mass.

    You have a small congregation right? Here are all the ICEL chants on one sheet of paper, back to front.

    http://www.sfcatholic.org/dwc/Files/Liturgy/Roman Missal/One Page Music Mass Card.pdf

    Chin up! Keep it up!



  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,428
    Propers: This means a lot of things, but around here it is USUALLY short-hand for speaking of the music appointed by Church for specific points in Mass (or, alternate settings of the same texts), that is: the Entrance, the Offertory, and the Communion.

    There is a set of these for each Sunday and Feast. They are found (in Latin, set to music) in a book called the Graduale Romanum. A somewhat alternate set of them can be found (in English, not set to music), in the Roman Missal. (Do NOT worry about the difference between those or any of the silly arguments and digressions related to this.)

    Don't worry about the Latin or the original chant for now. You'll learn all of that when you're ready. In the meantime, you need a source for good English settings of the texts.

    (The Responsorial Psalm [or its venerable predecessor, the Gradual] and the Alleluia before the Gospel are also part of the Proper, but don't worry too much about that right now.)

    Typical practice in the average parish is to replace the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion with random songs or hymns. Selecting good hymns instead of bad ones is good step in the right direction. Singing the actual appointed texts is a giant leap forward into the Church's ideal for liturgy.


    The SEP (Simple English Propers) is the quickest, easiest way to jump in. The Lumen Christi Simple Gradual is a tiny bit harder, but much better. (The problem there is that the LCSG has seasonal antiphons for Ordinary Time, not the full run of the year. This might actually be better, though - you can use the same ones for a while, or choose from the seasonal options based on ease or other concerns.) There are a few other collections of settings, and once you get to a point where you are used to learning one or two (or three) new, simple, chants each week, you can branch out into the other settings.


    ICEL Chant Mass: It shouldn't take more than a few hearings for people to pick it up, especially if you can manage to get it front of them (if you have a newish hymnal, it's probably in there - I believe its required). It's designed to be easy, and is based on some of the more well known (and easy to sing) Gregorian originals. I would just start using them.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    Did your church buy the "celebrate in Song" by the CCCB? The missal chants are in there.