Metrical Settings of the Propers?
    Posts: 37
    Is there any precedent in writing metrical/non-chant, tonally harmonized settings of the Sunday Propers? Is chant a requirement of this sung part of the Mass, as laid out clearly by the Church? I'm less familiar with the musical requirements for the propers.
  • In my opinion The Propers (English versions of the GR texts) could be composed 1) in newly composed chant style, 2) in metrical style with accompaniment, or 3) may be English versions of the GR texts set to the GR melodies (a la Palmer-Burgess or Bruce Ford). The only requirements are sensitivity to text and that the music must reveal its derivation from the historic Gregorian repertory, or from our finest post-Gregorian musical heritage - which means that mimicking 'popular' forms of music is anathema.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 346
    Check out GIA's "Honey from the Rock" collection. But the musical style isn't appropriate for Mass, in my opinion (nor in the opinion of the Church's Magisterium).

    There is also something similar to what you propose in OCP's "Spirit and Psalm" collection, which takes the unaltered responsorial psalm texts (response and verses) from the Lectionary and sets them to contemporary-sounding music that is metered (instead of a psalm tone) with accompaniment, with results that vary from kind of okay to an assault on the ears. A similar metered approach could be used for the introit, offertory and communion antiphons and their verses. But again, I think the musical style of these settings is not what the Church desires for Mass.

    Setting unmetered texts to the confines of a musical meter poses considerable problems, as OCP's Spirit and Psalm experiment shows, if you take the time to listen to audio samples. That's a big reason why chanted Mass propers and psalms are probably a better way to give musical expression to the texts.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    I've used my Hymn Tune Introits with standard SATB harmonizations.
    Posts: 37
    MarkB - I just about fell out of my chair upon my first listen to "Honey from the Rock." Glad to have yet another affirmation of the wonderful guidance of the Church's Magisterium.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,142
    Holy smokes, that "Honey from the Rock" was truly alarming! If you needed any proof that the Church often tries to imitate popular culture far, far too late, it's that collection of mid-'90s propers, written in 2016.
    Thanked by 1MarkB
  • Taste and See reminds me of something of Steely Dan.
    Thanked by 1MNadalin
    Posts: 37
    Kathy - do you have a link to your Hymn Tune Introits?
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640

    I have used them with success in bringing propers to a previously P&W parish. There are suggested tunes to sing them to with attention to liturgical seasons, which is quite useful. They’ll also work with any long-meter tune if the suggested tunes are too unfamiliar.

    It is also very easy to add verses (if needed) set to a simple psalm tone, with the hymn tune Introit repeated between verses.
    Thanked by 2Kathy roy2
  • Are you talking Novus Ordo or Extraordinary Form? If Novus Ordo, the propers themselves are not technically required; so there is no official musical requirement for an introit. Kathy Pluth (linked above) and Christoph Tietze have both done collections of hymn-tune introits. Tietze:

    If you are talking choral introits, then Healy Willan did a complete series for the (anglican) calendar. Also, Richard Rice did a complete set of choral introits. I'm working on a similar collection. Attaching one here as an example.

    If you are talking Latin introits for choir, of course there is the Byrd Gradualia and Isaac Choralis Constantinus (among other Renaissance-era and later settings).

    I would also point out, since you are in the dangerous waters of the MusicaSacra forum, that many here believe strongly that the Missal propers are "not meant to be sung" and are not "real propers." This would be considered an issue if you are thinking of setting English introits for choir, from the Roman Missal. However, as a matter of actual fact and not ideology, two points:

    1 - There is explicit mention of singing the Roman Missal introits in the first option of the GIRM (United States version) for music during the entrance procession.

    2 - On about 95% of Sundays, the Roman Missal introit antiphon is an english translation of the Graduale proper. There are only a few small exceptions to this rule.

    Thus, the Missal Introits may certainly be sung, and in almost all cases are exactly equivalent to the Graduale texts anyway.

    Which is to say, if you are thinking of setting the Roman Missal antiphons for choir, GO FOR IT!! And ignore the nonsense :)
    There is a much greater need for compositions of this type, than for more collections of Responsorial Psalms.

    EDIT: I re-read the original post and see you are talking about all propers, not just introits. There is much less of a pressing need for Offertories, since there are many of these in the inherited repertoire. However, I would think that an accessible choral setting of an Offertory should always be welcome in the church. The best settings (Palestrina, Lassus, Rheinberger, etc.) tend to be quite difficult. As far as communion propers, the water becomes murkier, especially in the Novus Ordo with three-year cycles of communios on many days. Also, the need to prolong music for a lengthy procession. But again, good choral settings of communion propers should also be welcome.
  • JKW,

    Here's a radical suggestion, but one meant sincerely:

    There is a shortage (although I don't think a complete absence) of really good, worthy Propers settings for 3 voices or 2 voices... Why not write some excellent settings of truly polyphonic 2 or 3 voice Introits? (Think Lassus).
  • These offertory paraphrases are intended to be used with Common Meter hymn tunes.
    Thanked by 1roy2
    Posts: 37
    Yes the Novus Ordo is the context I am referring to. I am very inspired to do a bit of compositional experimenting. I do like the idea of using the Introits from the RM. Keeps things a bit consistent in my mind (in the US at least).

    I was originally curious about all the propers, however in exploring this idea here in the Shark Tank (which I find quite inspiring!) I may experiment with various forms for just the Introits. My curiosity is greatly peaked when considering 2-3 voice polyphony. I'll post a few experiments in the future to see what the Sharks think.
  • JKW,

    Remember, when writing 2 or 3 voice music that this isn't 4-part music with a part missing. Also, don't think of one part dragging the other along, like an unwilling relative to a Christmas feast.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,181
    I think if you combine Aristotle's and my projects, and add in any of the ad libitum Psalms at Communion, it would bring these important texts into the minds of the people of a congregation and perform a great service for them.
    Thanked by 1roy2
  • Beautiful, Richard.
    Now, what we need in addition is a responsorial psalm, an alleluya and verse, an offertory, and a communion treated similarly - a complete set of propers.
    What you have done here is really good!
  • ,
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • vansensei
    Posts: 124
    Thank you for that... we needed a palate-cleanser after Honey on the Rock (which sounds like if TD Jakes put on a chasuble and wrote a Mass, but I digress).
  • ? TD Jakes? I'm obviously showing my youth and ignorance, but who is TD Jakes?
  • vansensei
    Posts: 124
    Megachurch Pentecostal pastor, so imagine the music.