mass setting and music ideas for a combined adult and children's choir
  • awicke
    Posts: 8
    The adult choir has been singing for about three years and is able to sing the SATB hymns out of Choral Praise (the choir addition of Breaking Bread) after a fair amount of practice. They sing chant hymns as well as the Missa de Angelis. They even sang the Missa pro Editione Tertia (Mueller) last fall and did pretty well, but this is definitely an amateur choir. We are a small parish and a bunch of the parents, including me, would like to see our interested kids get involved. However, I do not have the time to work with a dedicated children's choir. So, if I combine these two groups, how do I do it without boring the adults and overwhelming the kids? Are there some beautiful Mass settings out there that are not too intimidating?
  • awicke
    Posts: 8
    Oh, and I should add that we do not have have many men. One or two basses and three tenors if we are lucky. So true SATB singing is rare.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    The adult choir has been singing for about three years and is able to sing the SATB hymns out of Choral Praise (the choir addition of Breaking Bread) after a fair amount of practice.


    how do I do it without boring the adults and overwhelming the kids?

    How old are the children you are considering letting into your choir? If they are very young (5-8 years old and not able to read words) then, I think, you may have some issues with "boring the adults" and "overwhelming the kids." But if the children are even a little bit older, I think you will be pleasantly surprised that they will learn quickly, even more quickly than many of the adults.

    For now, I would stick with the Gregorian Ordinaries. They are good for any chorister to know. Learn one for Ordinary Time, one for Christmas/Easter and one for Advent/Lent. Then add to these as your choir grows and as you and your pastor see fit. Have some fun with motets and descants in hymns.

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  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,465
    Once a month we combine our adult and children's choirs and sing a mass setting from the Kyriale. They are eminently singable, and lend themselves well to a variety of presentations: accompanied or unaccompanied, singing in unison, or singing antiphonally in groups.

    If you alternate your trebles (women and children) with the men's voices on the verses of the Kyrie, it accomplishes two things: the "echo" effect makes it easier for everyone to learn their parts; and it breaks things down into smaller, more manageable parts. We number the motifs and learn each one separately when learning a new Kyrie so the children learn to recognize them more easily.

    It's also great to sing the entire piece together, of course.

    The phenomenal thing about the mass settings in the Kyriale is that the melodies are truly "ever ancient, ever new". You just won't believe how enchanting they are.

    I always think of what Sr. Joan Roccasalvo said once about how chant "greatly desires to be reclaimed as our very own" and how Gregorian chant is the musical birthright of every Roman Catholic.

    In some sense the Missale Romanum is the priest's book, the Liber Usualis is the schola's book, and the Kyriale the people's book.

    Jeff Ostrowski's website, St. Antoine Daniele Kyriale has everything you need to start learning the chant: scores, videos, mp3's, accompaniments. Best of luck to you. I think if you try learning some chant masses, you will fall in love with them, and you will be amazed at how the children will take to them like ducks to water. : )

  • bonniebede
    Posts: 756
    AS Julie mentioned, use the online stuff and ask parents to practise with the children at home, this means they can work at the pace which suits their kids. Even young children 5 and up can earn to sing the melody line. Then at practice the kids are ready to sing. BTW it can be a great way to encourage your choir to come prepared, adults included. videos with words and music teach the kids to read and read music/chant notation, think sesame street sing a long.
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  • awicke
    Posts: 8
    sorry, it took me a long time to get back to this. The kids will be able to read for the most part. Unfortunately, we do not have the option of using a lot of Latin, much to my sadness as I love the chant masses. We do sing the Missa de Angelis ( mass VIII from the Kyriale) but only for high feasts like Pentecost that are not as well attended as, say, Christmas. I do sing a communion proper while the choir receives communion every time we sing, but that was a hard sell in our CA diocese. I think I am going to have to find a suitable English mass setting to start with. Any ideas?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    You might find it possible to mix and match elements from some of the settings listed here:
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  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,481
    Here is a discussion on favourite Mass settings (there are others):

    ask parents to practise with the children at home

    In my experience, it just does not happen. I mean, you can ask that families practice, but I wouldn't choose something where success depends upon practicing. If they do practice, then you can choose music which is more challenging. It is rather frustrating to get to a rehearsal hoping that something has been learned at home but finding yourself at a roadblock because the work has not been done.

    I would sneak in some Latin. For example the simple "Agnus Dei" and "Kyrie" are repetitive and pretty and I have found that for some reason people don't rebel at singing those in Latin during an almost all English Mass. Then you can expand these parts in a few months and use a different setting and the congregation will be familiar with the text.

    Another way to sneak in Latin is to begin with Taize refrains. Many of these are in Latin and you can find one which mirrors the proper of the day, or a seasonal chant. They often have simple harmonies and descants. You can pair them up with the Psalm from the SEP for the day. They can be accompanied until your choir is secure in its singing, and then be sung a cappella. This worked well in my parish when I first decided that we needed to sing what the church asks of us.

    Finally, take a look at "The Catholic Choirbook." It is free to download and has the traditional Catholic hymns we can't find in our modern day hymnals. Whenever I pull one out, to use as a simple motet, anyone over fifty smiles and nods. I have an ethnically diverse choir and many people recognize these lovely hymns. "The Catholic Choirbook" also has many simple motets.

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