Major choral work to dedicate a new church?
  • Hello,

    I work in a northwest Houston suburban parish, and we are building a new church. When it’s finished, I look forward to some sort of extra-liturgical musical dedication event - perhaps just a mini-concert before the Mass of dedication.

    I am trying to find the “perfect” multi-movement choral piece for the occasion. I’m looking for something:
    * that is accessible for an all-unpaid SATB choir (some are quite good, some are beginners)
    * that involves a children’s choir
    * whose orchestration is either simple or able to be pared down well
    * that involves liberal use of trumpets/brass and timpani
    * whose solo parts are simple enough for volunteers

    The ideal text seems to me to be the Te Deum. I very much like the Charpentier setting of this text (H. 146), but I fear it may be just a bit too hard. Mark Hayes has a new setting (some English, some Latin) that seems pretty cool and accessible, but it’s a bit short. Bruckner’s is not difficult, and apparently it *can* reduce well, but I fear we lack an organ to make that piece sound good with reduced orchestration.

    What I like about the Hayes setting is that it is new and incorporates some elements of the contemporary popular idiom - and does so tastefully. It is definitely a *choral* piece, not just a pop song with some SATB harmonies sprinkled on. Charpentier, though, seems more extroverted and “festive”. It’s not a parish with an established history of doing major choral works, so it might be nice if the first such performance is a newer piece to avoid a backlash from elements of the parish that may be averse to centuries-old music?

    A Mass setting would be an awful lot of Latin for our folks, some of whom struggled tonight with the first line of text in “Sicut cervus”. But I’d also go for a good Mass setting, particularly if it gives a fair amount of the text to soloists.

    Ideas? Any longer texts that would work? Maybe a Gloria? (Vivaldi RV589 seems not “festive” enough....)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,926
    I would be interested to collaborate with you. I have a few Mass setting that might interest you, some for choir, some for concerts, some for congregation/choir. Are you having an organ installed? If you had the leeway to name the instrumentation, what would it be? The Te Deum is a wonderful idea for a concert work! Would your choir be able to perform it in latin? Do you prefer the baroque style such as Charpentier? What is the date of the dedicatory event/Mass?
  • Francis,

    If you’d like to send me some samples of your previous work (Mass settings etc.), I'll be happy to look them over. You can either email them to music (at) ctrcc (dot) com or send copies via postal mail to:

    Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church
    c/o Felipe Gasper
    11507 Huffmeister Rd.
    Houston, TX 77065

    Go ahead and email me anyway, and I’ll give you some of the details you’re requesting.
  • As much as I enjoy much of Mark Hayes' arrangements, I would be more comfortable recommending either the John Rutter or Mack Wilberg settings of the "TE DEUM" if you're going contemporary and "accessible" choral.
  • Charles,

    Have you seen the Hayes piece? It looks quite good, really.

    I’ve not seen the Wilberg. I recall seeing Rutter and not thinking as highly of it.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    If you have the horses, the Bruckner Te Deum is a real barn-burner. Talk about festive! it makes the Vivaldi Gloria sound like a tea party.

    If you want a complete Mass setting, and you want something super festive, and (again) if you have the horses, there's always the Messa di Gloria by Puccini (the opera composer, not his Classical-era ancestor). However, you totally need operatic-caliber soloists to pull it off. Again . . . if you have the horses.
  • JDE
    Posts: 586
    Sorry, should have read more carefully before posting!

    If you have brass, the Bruckner will work well with a reduced orchestra. The brass is the main thing in that piece.
  • Felipe,

    I do not want to put a damper on your plans, but I am in the same position and working within the guidelines of the church documents, it is interpreted locally as saying that there is to be no music in the church prior to the entrance of the Bishop into the church having just blessed the doors, at which time the Psalm text "I Was Glad" is appropriate. We plan to sing the Parry...even though it is suggested that the congregation be involved in the singing of all the suggested psalms for the dedication.
    This applies if there is a procession from another building, during which psalms are to be sung; if there is no procession to the church, but people enter after he blesses the doors; or lastly, if the Bishop enters directly from the Sacristy with the congregation in place.
    I agree that the Puccini Mass would be incredibly cool.
    The dedication here is further complicated by an announcement a year ago by the TLM group meeting in our church that they are going to have a Solemn High Mass with the Mozart Coronation Mass sung by a Diocesan wide choir and orchestra...on their own. The pastor knew about it but no one else did, so now there is confusion among people, including choir members who think that that IS the dedication...rather than an offering of thanks by the TLM group that meets in our church for the new church, which they refer to as their new church...which further confuses people. And now they are instead meeting in another church, si it gets even more confusing! (maybe it is the water in TN?)
    In addition there is an additional blessing in the liturgy for a chapel...where the Blessed Sacrament is. What's complicated about that is that we have a chapel that needs blessing, but it is not a chapel of is a chapel of 24 hour adoration. So it appears that the blessing within the liturgy of the dedication of the church is not appropriate for this chapel.

    noel at
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    RUTTER? Why don't you go the whole hog and suggest Lloyd Webber Jnr?
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749

    If you're going for "I was glad", the Parry is wonderful, but the Purcell is worth a look.
  • Frog,

    Interesting. The archdiocese is building a new co-cathedral, and the dedication choir for that is preparing Vivaldi Gloria.
  • Ah, that would be great to do...

    Having spent 3 years singing and playing daily Masses in the 1950's during Advent and Lent I would have to quickly turn on the organ if the Pastor appeared on the altar rather than the Associate. The associate and I chanted a Capella, the Pastor had to have organ, even to the extent that I have to play I IV I before every Dominus matter what the rubrics were...

    At our church we would have the people sing the Gloria as a great hymn of the church...but that's the difficulty, trying to follow the instructions while still taking time for glorious music making by the choir as well!

    noel at