Propers and Responsorial Psalm Setting for Comment
  • NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 558
    TL;DR: I wrote propers and a Responsorial Psalm to be sung unaccompanied for a young men's discipleship camp. I like the approach to the Psalm (and the boys do, too), and am thinking of expanding that approach into a complete collection of Psalms for Daily and Sunday Mass. I'd like to get some input as to whether that would be a worthwhile undertaking. It is attached below for review, as is an Introit, although I'm not thinking about writing a collection of those.

    I am directing the music for the Junior High and High School Men's Discipleship Camp for the Diocese of New Ulm, Minn.

    Because our Diocesan Coordinator of Youth Ministries and young clergy are absolutely top-notch, these masses are celebrated ad orientem, in the new rite, with the assistance of the Diocesan seminarians in the sanctuary and in the schola.

    The music of the liturgy is essentially unaccompanied plainsong, mostly in the vernacular.

    The chanters (myself and some seminarians) chant the Introit (antiphon only) in an Englished setting of the Graduale melody.

    The Kyrie is a simple call-and-response, in Greek. The Psalms I have set this year with simple, singable refrains, but instead of simply Psalm-toning the verses, have composed somewhat parallel, but also expressive and varied settings for each verse.

    The Offertory is the Orthodox priest Fr. Jan Erickson's setting of Psalm 116, reduced to a plainchant melody, and with the first verse changed into a refrain --- the boys sing it very well.

    A mixed, simple chant Latin/English Ordinary is used.

    The Communio is chanted by the Schola. Then "Soul of My Savior" is sung as a Thanksgiving hymn when the boys have received Communion, and a Marian hymn or perhaps the Antiphon concludes the liturgy.

    These are always very beautiful liturgies.

    This year, however, I have been especially pleased with the success of the Psalm-settings I have composed. I was inspired by the way in which the chants of the Graduale express themselves so effectively through subtle variation on common structures, which then become perfectly fitted to the various texts they set, and I tried to accomplish this same effect ing my Psalm settings, crafting each verse with similar, but yet variegated structures, to wed it more perfectly to the text, and to proclaim that text more effectively to the assembly and assist them in praying it more deeply.

    I am toying with the idea of expanding them into a complete collection of plainchant Responsorial Psalms, suitable for unaccompanied singing, whether at daily Mass, or even Sunday Mass. I have attached one for review and comment, if you would do me that kindness.

    I have also attached one of my Proper settings (for today, St. Ignatius of Loyola), simply for comment, although I know Proper settings abound, and would probably not entertain the idea of creating yet another such collection when others are doing such remarkably similar work.

    Thanks in advance for your constructive criticism.
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  • KyleM18
    Posts: 150
    For the responsorial psalm, could you make more clear where the response is? You number the verses, so could you put an R. at the response? I like the setting, though. I could see it being sung at my church without a problem.
  • Hi Kyle,

    Thanks for the comment!

    I could put an "R." at the response if I were wise in the ways of GABC --- do you know the appropriate input? I use Ben Bloomfield's Transcriber tool, so the numbers are automatically separated from the neume-attached text.
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  • "the" is (usually) an unimportant word, and yet both times you give it more than one note in the "At the name of the Lord"
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,119
    Gabc code for producing the "R." with a slash, as in

    Post Evangelium: "Good morning again everybody. How are you all doing?"
    ℟: "Oh, still about the same."

    is tucked into this corner of the several tutorials.
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  • I like your psalm setting. I especially like that you have composed an elaborate tone for the verses. This is incalculably to be preferred than singing the verses to plain psalm tones of whatever provenance. The effect is very good, and is what a true responsorial psalm should be like. I myself have composed a number of responsorial psalms in which each verse has its own distinct semi-elaborate, mildly neumatic, melody. The idea is to restore the responsorial psalm to the form of the Roman gradual responsory. Most people are blissfully unaware that 'the gradual' in the GR is what is left of a responsorial psalm.

    I think that your idea to compose settings for the entire year is more than praiseworthy. While you are at it, you should do the Alleluya verses as well. In fact, you should do a full set of English propers for every Sunday and Solemnity.

    Much as I hate to disagree with Chris, his objection to two notes on the article 'the' doesn't bother me at all. English renaissance music (and more modern music as well) is replete with 'the' and other 'unimportant' words being given multiple notes. I think that your treatment is just fine!

    Speaking of the propers - I notice on another thread that Bruce Ford is going to be putting his American Gradual into chant notation as well as his note-head system. Applause is due.
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