Communion Antiphon Collection (work-in-progress)
  • afries52afries52
    Posts: 17
    Hello everyone,

    TL;DR - Please consider listening/trying out the two antiphons I have attached. The feedback I am looking for is more practical. Is what I have created something you or others may consider using? Is there a value to this? I want to gauge whether or not it is worth my time to continue working on this project. I would happily ditch it if I felt that no one but myself would use them. I would just as happily continue the project if there was a real desire for it.

    Since late 2016, I have been composing my own Communion Antiphon settings to use at my previous, and current church job. I've only been doing them as has been convenient, so I only have a fraction of the full 3 years of Sunday Communion Antiphons. This has served several purposes. Allow me to tell my story and explain my work.

    1) To get myself more comfortable and un-afraid of basic composition. In my teaching, I've always felt that composition is something I avoided, because I myself am not comfortable. It's obviously an important thing to skip in musical education. So, I faced my fears.

    2) My previous parish was in a rapidly yuppie-fying area of Chicago. Formally heavily Polish, most of the Poles had moved to the suburbs. Who remained at this parish (very few) came from every imaginable ethnic and cultural background. To use political terms, I was a conservative in liberal territory. The pastor was Polish and was about as uninvolved as you could want a pastor to be (to me, a good thing). I pretty much did whatever I wanted when it came to the English mass music. The Polish music was very traditional, and I took much inspiration from their mass settings which were more in line with chant than song. In my four years there, I went from the folk-group and MMA (Music Ministry Alive) mentality that I was raised on, to discovering the rich history of music that the Catholic Church has to offer. (Who knew there was more than what OCP, GIA, and WLP had to offer?) I wrote articles in the bulletin and in supplementary papers for the parishioners, usually every season, that explained any "new" music we were doing, as well as other aspects of the liturgy. Though this was not in my job description, the pastor certainly wasn't doing it; he rarely wrote his own homily or bulletin letter. I felt it necessary to my ministry to explain and educate about what I was doing. If it didn't help anyone, it certainly helped me.

    I started doing communion antiphons using the editions of Motyka and the like. There was much opposition at first, but I think people finally started to embrace the simplicity. (These people didn't even know what "Agnus Dei" was!) I eventually started to work for a pipe organ manufacturer, and found myself spending a lot of time holding keys during tuning season. Aside from reading, studying Mandarin, and browsing the internet, I needed something else to do with my time. The idea struck me to write my own communion antiphons for church. It would give me that opportunity to tackle composing, and also give me one less song each weekend to pick. (I DESPISE picking communion songs...) So, here we are.

    3) My discovery of the music of the church has been in large part due to this forum, and the people and organizations associated with it. For that, I thank you all! Sadly, I had to move on from my previous parish because the bills were not being paid. My new parish has many great qualities, but it's not the same environment. I have continued to do the Antiphons and have composed a few more, and it's nice to have a choir to sing them, but its implementation has not been as effective. Maybe my motivation has just worn thin or I jumped into things too soon. Anyway, I wanted to give back in some way to the community that I have gotten so many resources from for free.


    About these compositions

    I do not claim to know what I am doing. This is only my humble offering. I am sure there are mistakes, formatting issues, poor melodic choices, etc. But I am always improving them. The goals behind these are as follows:

    1) To make the full text of communion antiphons musically accessible to any parish music ministry. I have not paraphrased or omitted text except on only a few occasions where I think it was OK to do without. (Such as some "Said the Lord" instances - I know some of you would disagree!)

    2) I've written everything in lead-sheet format. I will not take the time to write out four parts or keyboard accompaniment. I may consider such things for days like Easter. When I compose these, I do so from the singing aspect first. They all should theoretically stand alone as chants/A Capella. The accompaniment can be whatever instrument. Organ, piano, guitar, whatever. It's not supposed to be fancy, just chordal support. I've also attached a version for worship aid use.

    3) Everything is written in standard notation - there are a lot of good antiphon settings out there in Neumes, and that's awesome, but few people know how to interpret them. If they were intended to be used only in a chant setting, Neumes would actually fit just fine. In fact, that essentially what my manuscripts look like. But when I "engrave" it, I try to make it fit into rhythms that your average church musician could easily master. I've also tried to make the music and text big enough to be clearly seen. These settings also should not be interpreted strictly! As you hear in the recordings, considerable rubato is taken. You'll notice the general lack of time signatures, and in some cases bar lines. Everything should flow like chant, but be adaptable to whatever instrumentation.

    4) The verse chants are generally just something simple that I put together. They aren't based on any chant tones necessarily, though some may sound similar. I'm sure there are fancy, specific rules about chant tones, accented syllables, and such, that I have completed ignored, but they are beyond the scope of what I'm trying to accomplish with these antiphons. I am certainly willing to learn more correct ways to interpret the verses, as long as it sticks with the overall simplicity of the antiphons.

    4.5) I have also just copied and pasted verses from other antiphon resources. I would assume they are correct for the Sunday, but maybe not.

    5) I also am unsure of correct copyright procedure here. Any tips would be fantastic. The setting itself is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. But for usage of the text you'll have to all help me out on what is correct procedure on my part. I'm pretty sure I've cited them correctly, but what else to do on my end I could use some help. I won't be charging anything for these, but could eventually accept donations.

    6) Obviously this is far from a completed work. I'm open to ideas and thoughtful criticism. I hope you could take the time to try them out, obviously not at a mass any time soon, as I don't have any composed for anything coming up soon.


    Here are the sample materials. Please excuse the poor quality of the recordings. (cell phone!)

    5th Sunday in Ordinary Time AC
    Worship aid version and Lead Sheet attached

    5th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
    Worship aid version and Lead Sheet attached

    7th Sunday in Ordinary Time ABC
    Worship aid version and Lead Sheet attached.
    Thanked by 2JonathanKK CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,302
    Thanks for posting this; it's a good project.

    Let me clarify something about the antiphon texts. The copyright notice on the PDF pages cites the Roman Missal, but these texts are from a different source. They're from a translation of the Graduale Romanum, made by the monks of Solesmes in the 1980s, for the first edition of their book "Gregorian Missal". This is the same source CMAA used for texts for the book "Simple English Propers" several years ago. It's OK to sing them, but for a new project like yours, I'd recommend using official texts where they are available.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen afries52
  • afries52afries52
    Posts: 17

    Thank you! I have been using the Jogues Missal for all the antiphon texts. So they are not technically proper? (heh) Am I correct in saying that the sung antiphon texts currently have no official English translation? Which would then be why most other missals with antiphon texts (even set to music) use the spoken texts?

    Do you know when such official texts may finally appear?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,302
    Right: there isn't an official translation for the Graduale Romanum, so that situation has not improved much, and one is not likely to come soon.

    It might be helpful to look in other approved translations when they happen to contain the same text as a particular antiphon: the Roman Missal, the Psalms, etc. There are even some independently made translations which have been approved for liturgical use in the U.S.: e.g., Prof. Paul Ford's version of the Graduale Simplex ("By Flowing Waters") and Fr. Robert Johansen's translation of antiphons published in the "Lumen Christi" series; re-using any of these will require permission from the rights holders.

    I'd expect that between all these various sources, you could probably find approved texts for most of the antiphons in the GR.
  • afries52afries52
    Posts: 17

    This certainly complicates matters considerably.

    In the meantime I can at least update the citation of text to be proper. Thanks!