Contemporary style antiphons
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    I just saw that ocp is coming out with contemporary entrance and communion antiphons this fall. Say whatever snarky comments you want about the style and use of Roman Missal antiphons instead of the graduale, but this is a huge step forward and ocp should be congratulated. If you have a praise and worship mass at your parish, use these. They are arranged like taize refrains ending on the dominant,and a second ending on the tonic to resolve it. https://www.ocp.org/en-us/modern-antiphons
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    Music is objectively awfully written but at least they're serious about writing for the liturgy now and not pawning off whatever drivel they call "lyrics" as an acceptable substitute for the proper texts. We can debate style (and quality...), but at the very minimum this is actual liturgical music in the truest sense of the word.
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • LMassery,

    Thank you for bringing it to our attention. I shall avoid snark of all kinds in response to them.

    My first impression is that a trade-off is being offered: if we want the actual antiphons, we should have no complaint against the music, and if we don't like the music, then we must be willing to accept the replacement of the texts with alius cantus aptus, with its own text. If I've understood that correctly, I find this trade-off unacceptable. Schoenbergian's reaction is precisely the kind which is desired by the marketeers: they're writing actual liturgical music, they're serious about writing for the liturgy now. He comes by his assessment honestly, given that he's Schoenbergian, but I can't join him in it.
    Thanked by 3lmassery francis CCooze
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    Chris, I’m not sure that kind of dichotomy is necessarily implied. These antiphons are clearly designed for those who already have no complaints about the style, and who in fact prefer that style. For that crowd, it’s an improvement, is it not? Ocp has already published Fr Kelly’s meinrad antiphons in the Gregorian style for those who wish to give chant pride of place.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • TimTheEnchanterTimTheEnchanter
    Posts: 150
    I'm in a diocese that isn't allowing congregational music right now. I have a "contemporary" group at my parish champing at the bit to get back to playing -- I'll be offering this to them as a way to do that, because I've been playing every single Mass since our parish reopened (when I usually don't) and I need to do a bit less for my own sanity.

    OCP has done a good thing. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • While we would prefer every parish in America to sing Gregorian antiphons either the original Latin ones or a vernacular collection (Weber, Bartlett, Kelly, etc), it is not practical. It would be too abrupt of a change in musical style for many parishes. For these contemporary parishes this is a good option to get them used to singing The Mass not just singing at mass. Then we could focus on getting them to the Gregorian style. This collection is a great stepping stone to get parishes to where we want them to be. It is not an end goal but a move in the right direction.
    Thanked by 1lmassery
  • I was struck (from the recording) at two qualities: they are sung in a Countrymusic/ Protestant style; two of the 3 are written with (and sung with) accompaniments in seasons when instrumental use is discouraged.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    Nathan and Tim I agree. I believe getting contemporary music crowds to start singing the Mass texts and enjoying it will lead them toward appreciating chant more, not less: in my large suburban parish we have one Mass with praise and worship style. There’s no way they would stomach kelly, Weber, or bartlet’s English chant propers. I’m excited to use these at that Mass and feel like it vindicates and educates on what I’m doing at the other masses, which is bartlet et al.
    Thanked by 2Elmar irishtenor
  • sergeantedward
    Posts: 175
    If these are use as a temporary stepping stone towards the music we are instructed to use (Gregorian Chant), then bravi tutti. There are MANY worse pills to swallow.

    If these are used as a final solution, then no bene.
  • While it's a step in the right direction from OCP etc. I can't countenance these at all. The style is deplorable, falling far short of the requirements for sacred music. It's an excuse to keep inappropriate folk-style music in mass and still argue, "look, we're singing the correct words now!" And, calling it good for congregational participation is unrealistic. Learning three (at least) new antiphons to sing each week will never be in the reach of a Catholic congregation. The Ordinary is for the faithful; the Propers are for the choir or schola.

    A far better option is to take the simple antiphons of By Flowing Waters; they're authentic chant but very accessible. All the parish would need is a pastor brave enough to insist on it, and weather the complaints until the parish has accepted it. But, that's a lot to ask of the priest.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,983
    lmassery - I completely agree that using the proper texts at each Mass is of the first importance, and far outweighs questions of musical style. Of course we can than argue over whether this or that musical style conveys the words better, and indeed we have been arguing since singing was first employed in church.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    Chris, I wouldn't use this garbage in Mass if you put a gun to my head, but at least the attitude of sticking their fingers in their ears about everything the Church calls for is somewhat lessened. Previous sacro-pop had literally no connection to the liturgy - musically, textually, stylistically. They were just random selections or musings of these "artists" about their own personal spirituality. For those people solidly in the OCP bubble, the company is offering something that at least acknowledges what the Church asks for, which I've never seen before.

    Of course Bartlett/Weber are superior, but the people who know about them a) know what propers are and b) already know not to touch OCP's catalogue with a ten-foot pole.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,256
    ...liturgical music in the truest broadest sense....
    Pablum!
  • TimTheEnchanterTimTheEnchanter
    Posts: 150
    Folks, if we're going to viciously rip apart every attempt to do things that we would prefer be done (but not as we want them to be done), then why should these folks even bother to try?

    Take the W, for heaven's sake (literally). "Contemporary" composers have responded positively to the idea of propers -- would you have seen that coming 5 or 10 years ago?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    To give credit to OCP, they have published Fr Columba Kelly's plainchant antiphons for a long time.

    Their publication is in round notes, while Fr Kelly offered them in chant notation through the St Meinrad Archabbey site.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,109
    things that we would prefer be done

    Ahem, not all of us have been so enthusiastic about a shibboleth that might turn into a stick to beat apt Brahms or Mozart with. If we have to compromise, it seems to me that the unaccented Faure is a more likely stepping stone to real music than the wrong Rossini. But in any case, long live the 2 G's!
  • Schoenbergian,

    I suppose I would be slightly more positively disposed to these if I were completely ignorant of the history, or if the history were different than it is. I can't make memes, but one which says "You should be grateful for the crutch", followed by one which says, "I would be, if you hadn't broken my leg first" would be appropriate.

    Tim,

    My comments on this topic can't be said to be vicious, either in the sense of "originating in vice" or in the sense of "extremely harsh". Quite some time ago, a music directrix friend of mine asked how I thought we could get from where her parish was to where I thought it ought to be. Among the comments I made at that time ( and, mind, her parish is one of the most "conservative" OF parishes in the diocese, FWIW) was this one: every step should be treated as if it is the last progress the parish will make; Therefore, if the person initiating the change isn't willing to have the program be stuck in amber with any particular development, he shouldn't implement the change in that form.

    For this reason, for example, I always recommend to parishes learning a chant Mass ordinary to start somewhere other than Mass VIII.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Alexander, I agree that the musical style of these is wrong for mass. The reality though is that there are churches where this pop style of music will be sung either way. It then becomes a question of do we take the win of having them sing the correct text (meaning these churches will at least be doing something right) and focus on style later, or they don't propers of any form and then we still complain that they are doing nothing right. My vote is that we take what victory we can get and focus on more wins in the future.

    There is no way we can bring contemporary parishes over to our side by forcing them into full Gregorian chant for everything right away. Dictatorial methods don't convert the other side, they only cause anger. We have to convince the contemporary churches that our way is correct to get them to accept the lasting changes we would like to see. We have to ween them off of the contemporary music and into something more appropriate to the liturgy. This collection of Propers is a tool that can help us do that by introducing the concept of Propers and then moving to chant later.

    Alexander, you are also right in stating that the Propers are for the choir/schola/cantor/etc and the Ordinary is for the faithful. I think that this collection could easily be learned by the musicians at contemporary churches so that the congregation gets used to hearing Propers be sung.

    Converting contemporary churches to authenticate church music is a very passionate topic for me. I grew up and was a musician (one of only two organists, the other in her 90s) at a contemporary church and wasn't exposed to chant until I began to sing and play organ for the Newman Center in college. The mindset of many of the musicians at my childhood parish was "chant is boring, I need exciting music". I know from experience working with them that change to authentic sacred music will be a long journey for contemporary parishes, and it must be taken in baby steps. I believe that this collection of Antiphons is a good baby step to start with.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,256
    As I've said numerous times on this our Forum, if the EF were still the only rite in use, these sorts of people would be doing exactly these sorts of things to Latin propers and ofdinaries. It is the Zeitgeist.
  • GambaGamba
    Posts: 275
    Does this solve anything, though? I could easily see PIPs in an OCP-for-30-years parish feeling dissatisfied and thinking one of these things:

    1) This is a bummer; why aren’t we singing “All are welcome” or “10,000 Reasons” or some other song I already know and love, instead of these little bits of music that aren’t really songs?

    2) Why to we have to sing these different new songs every week, and only sing each one once a year? I don’t know any of them and can’t sing anything by heart because there’s just too many.

    3) This music itself is not very exciting and is kind of lame and boring and I don’t like it as much as “Be Not Afraid” or something pretty.



    If you take an ordinary person who doesn’t know or care what propers are to Westminster Cathedral or Solesmes or Notre Dame or some other such place, the quality of the music and the skill of those executing it and the incarnational nature of good sung liturgy speak for themselves and impress almost everyone. Even if someone isn’t sold on hearing that repertory every single week and never singing Haugen again, there is an “oh, cool” element in such an experience.

    I would think that offering these really shoddy settings of the Propers and calling them “music in line with the tradition and wishes of the Church” will fail to yield good fruit for two reasons:

    1) This music is terrible AS sacro-pop. The fragmentary melodies don’t rhyme, aren’t catchy, and are too short to have any sort of emotional buildup in the way that the customary ballads do.

    2) This music also is terrible AS an agent of liturgical change. There is no whiff of incense about it – no “curb appeal” that well-done chant and polyphony and organ music can have. It rather comes across like “something burdensome we have to do, and we are just going to go along to get along”, which is not attractive to anyone.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    How anyone could assume these could work as congregational selections is beyond comprehension.
    Thanked by 2Gamba CHGiffen
  • Schoenbergian,

    .... and yet, someone not only assumes that they could work, but spends paper, ink, and marketing dollars to achieve such a goal.

    [Unrelated point I've been meaning to ask: how do I put an umlaut on letters in this forum?]

    Tim, LMassery,

    Since our telos, or goal, is to lead people to worship God more perfectly, and to help them use the sacred public worship of the Church to do this; either in the short term or in the long term, does this new offering from OCP intend to do this, or seem likely to accomplish it?
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,370
    [Unrelated point I've been meaning to ask: how do I put an umlaut on letters in this forum?]
    ä = ä
    ö = ö
    ü = ü
    Ä = Ä
    Ö = Ö
    Ü = Ü

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,109
    Usually one goes with the first Google result but, Ï, yes, a nice trick that doesn't depend on PC/Mac. To get Hungarian ö & ő might be harder …
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,370
    Actually, I frequently use the "Character Map" in Windows. That way, I can copy and paste any unusual character - such as: Ǽ Ł ∂ þ ę ffi
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    Chris, to answer your question, I think it takes people a step toward good liturgy by cementing the idea that we are not there to sing their songs, but actual liturgical texts. It forces an element of humility and to me signals the death of the four hymn sandwich. Singing liturgical texts has now become mainstream, not a niche nerdy thing liturgists do. Also they follow some repetitive melodic formulas, so I believe participation will be possible for the average parishioners.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    Meanwhile, on the subject of real contemporary composers releasing Propers cycles in a real contemporary idiom...crickets. A few excellent pieces out of Kevin Allen that deserve to be more well-known, and that's about it.
  • CGM
    Posts: 488
    On this last point:
    — I have composed a near-complete set of Gregorian Introits, utilizing the chant melodies harmonized in a modern style;
    — I have also composed a near-complete set of English Offertories, free-composed in a contemporary style.
    My scores are available for purchase, and a CD featuring some of them is here.

    I know that Frank LaRocca has been composing many Communion motets, and my friend Richard Clark has already published several sets of communion antiphons — for Advent, Christmas, and Lent. So there is work being done.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen rich_enough
  • LMassery,

    This new collection can be used for this purpose, I suppose, but I see several short-comings in that effort.
    1) There's no psalm verse or Gloria Patri, at least none that I can see, so this is a portion of a half a loaf in that sense.
    2) The antiphon, such as it is, would be repeated, as one currently repeats the response for the Responsorial Psalm [Jackson: Yes, I know most of the modern terms are misnomers] but the first time would be sung by the cantor/cantrix, so that rather than singing a liturgical text in a litugical way, we would be developing a "Call and Response" approach, which is quite comfortable in the modern idiom and in Protestant forms of what they call worship.

    I'll re-pose the other question: from what you can gather, is it the intent of the publishers to encourage the use of this stuff as a replacement for any version of a 4-hymn sandwich?
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,983
    CGZ - Half the OCP board has been appointed since Sample became Abp of Portland in Oregon. This looks to be consonant with his policy of gently but steadily pushing towards liturgy that conforms to Church norms.
    For a 'liturgical' church, using official texts rather than those chosen to suit the preacher's political program, or to please the guitarist's teenage daughter, is vital. The congregation can see these texts are from the Missal and that sends an important message. That is not to deny that much more will remain to be done. You, I, and all here know that the Missal texts are least among the valid options in the OF.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    [minor rant]

    Texts alone do not make music 'sacred' or 'suitable' for the liturgy. It seems (in the 'we-have-to-take-very-careful-non-offending-baby-steps-toward-true-sacred-music' philosophy) that there is NEVER a reason to perform the real thing... the chant itself... there is ALWAYS a reason to dumb it down, move it out, christen it with guitar or a catchy melody or any other 'creative' idea to put a spin on the authentic music of church, and avoid it for another week, month, year or decade.

    Sorry to be so blunt, but after enduring this compromise for 50 years, NOTHING is going to 'move' anyone closer to authentic sacred music except performing the real thing.

    This is just another excuse to NOT do the time honored chant.

    BTW... this 'cloaked' catch-phrase is another excuse to NOT. I hear this all the time as the perfect excuse for compromise... Who came up with this?

    "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

    It actually should say, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the compromise we are putting forward so we don't have to acknowledge, learn or perform the perfect."

    [/minor rant]
  • MarkB
    Posts: 346
    Also among the new releases from OCP is this collection of SATB entrance antiphons by Christopher Walker:
    https://www.ocp.org/en-us/collections/dg/653/entrance-antiphons-for-satb-choir

    He had previously published a collection of SATB Communion antiphons.

    The style of these is quite high-church. So with the Meinrad antiphons, Walker's completed SATB antiphons and the new contemporary antiphons, OCP appears to be trying to offer antiphon options to suit the range of musical tastes in parishes.

    I wonder how well their antiphon products sell. Can't be a huge market right now, and I don't sense parishes clamoring for these products as the reason why OCP produced them.

    I kind of wonder whether Archbishop Sample is preparing to mandate the use of antiphons at Masses in Portland. Maybe not requiring their exclusive use, but requiring that all parishes sing or recite the entrance and Communion antiphons before or after singing an entrance or Communion song. Because otherwise, I don't understand why OCP is suddenly publishing antiphon collections in different styles. Now that antiphon collections will soon be available to suit every parish's musical style, Archbishop Sample can mandate that the antiphons be sung without having parishes object, "But there isn't any antiphon music in the style we play, so it wouldn't sound right at our parish, therefore we can't follow the directive."
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    MarkB

    Interesting insight about Sample.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    Chris I can’t really say what their intentions are for publishing these but maybe mark B is onto something.

    Francis does have a point that it seems there is always a reason not to do the real deal chants and always a reason to couch it in other forms. At my large parish in realsville USA, I live in a constant state of compromise and have for 9 years, but now during covidtide there are no more excuses. They are getting the real deal now at 3/4 Masses. But as a founding member of this forum once advised, It is always wise to leave people an out, as in, a Mass they can attend to escape the chant and traditional music. It is more productive overall. At my parish, we will use these at that “escape” Mass and the intention will never be to advance beyond contemporary antiphons. At least it is the inspired word of God and not the uninspired word of David Haas.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 346
    David who?
  • LMassery,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm not sure what you mean by "real deal", but I'll assume it's a good thing.

    Now, why provide an "out", or an "escape", which never advances beyond contemporary antiphons? Remember that the out you provide can't be a bad thing itself.... you can't say "and for those of you who are too [insert adjective] to cope with real [noun], the [synonym for pablum] is available at [opportunity]. If you're offering pablum to a baby, that's one thing. If you're offering pablum to a growing boy with a high metabolism, that's a different situation. [I've brought 5 boys with high metabolisms to a minimum of 13 yrs, so that's an appropriate analogy]. If you offer brownies laced with poison, the good qualities of the brownies (that they were made at home using grandma's famous recipe with one added ingredient) can't overcome the bad (the poison).
  • lmassery
    Posts: 263
    You may be right Chris but the pastor is in charge, not me, and he definitely does not share my vision of sacred music. This arrangement was necessary to keep the peace among the parish and for me to keep my job and not quit.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,256
    .
  • Francis, I was not trying to make excuses for not singing chant. I apologize if my prior posts were worded in a way that gave that impression. I love Gregorian Chant and singing it at mass. If I could have it my way, all diocese in the nation would issue requirements that chant propers and ordinaries are done at sung masses (these requirements being the dictatorial methods I mentioned in an earlier post). The documents of the church say that chant and the organ should be given first priority when it comes to selecting music for mass, and therefore this is what we should do at mass.

    My goal was trying to express my concern (partially based on my experience growing up at a contemporary church) that adopting this approach to change would drive people away from attending mass because they don't like the music being done. We need to educate the faithful on what sacred music actually is as described by church documents so they understand the changes that are being implemented. That is what I was trying to explain.
    Thanked by 2Elmar francis
  • I think Mark is right and Archbishop Sample could be preparing to issue requirements that the antiphons be done at every mass. To be honest I am surprised that he had not done so already. Only time will tell if our predictions are accurate, but I pray they are. I also pray that if Archbishop Sample does issue these requirements, it will start an avalanche of other bishops doing the same.
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 835
    Except it's far from clear that a Bishop has the authority to prohibit what the rubrics permit. Unfortunately, I suppose.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 555
    Where Bartlett and Weber succeed along the path to chant, and this fails, is in reminding Catholics that the melismatic Gregorian repertoire is nothing more than an elaboration or ornamentation of the same style as the dialogues and the Ordinary—all essentially "heightened speech." They are not music in the sense of an anthem; they are Scriptural readings heightened as much as possible, elaborated to fulfill the expressive needs of the text. Though the Church never published a weekly Graduale Simplex, the Bartlett and Weber compositions approach that style and demonstrate the "heightened speech" approach that is only more ornate in the full GR Propers.

    Nobody would see these as Scriptural readings, on the other hand, and it's not surprising that most parishes shun a sung LotW and use garbage for the RP if that strong of a dichotomy (and a completely foreign one) is present in their minds.

    On the other hand, I still hold that psalm-tone or recto tono Propers are pure legalism, especially with dead-simple options now available for the less musically apt. I taught GS antiphons including Latin coaching to a group of non-singers in less than thirty minutes per. To reduce them to the formulae of the Lectionary readings and violate the very formula of lots of text/simply set vs. less text/elaborately set is just as destructive as setting them to pop music under the guise of congregational singing. (If you want congregational Propers, stick to seasonal antiphons.)
  • Andrew, it does not necessary have to be a prohibition on other songs. A bishop could require the antiphon without also restricting hymns. For example, you sing a hymn during the procession to the altar and then sing the introit during the incensing of the altar. This would fulfill any antiphon requirements without prohibiting the legally valid option of a hymn. This could also work by singing the communion antiphon and then following it with a hymn.

    Also, priests have the right to decide between different valid options when celebrating mass (ad orientem or versus populum, long or short form of a reading, Eucharistic Prayer one or two, etc). Hymn or antiphon is another decision. As priests are sworn to obey their bishop, couldn't the Bishop require priests to use a certain valid option and priests would have to obey (this is without a prohibition on also doing a hymn)? If there is someone out there with a more detailed knowledge of Canon Law than me, please correct any and all mistakes in my reasoning.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Nathan,

    As performed on the recording, the lapse in time between the end of the hymn and the beginning of the antiphon would be so large that Mass would be needlessly delayed.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 346
    Oh, brother.
  • Bobby Bolin
    Posts: 388
    I believe OCP is doing this as a reaction to GIA publishing contemporary antiphons. See below:

    https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/i-have-risen-print-g7656

    https://www.giamusic.com/store/resource/honey-from-the-rock-volume-1-print-g9233

    Is it better for a parish to use the correct texts with bad music or to use bad music without the proper text? I know some people will answer neither but in some places that is unrealistic. It is definitely an improvement.
  • Chris, you do make a good point regarding the timing. I meant to provide a general example of how a requirement to do antiphons does not mean a prohibition on other songs, and how both could be done at the same mass. To make it work at each parish that uses this collection of antiphons, they would have to adapt the format to their unique circumstances (musicians available, time needed during entrance, etc). Though, no matter what setting of the antiphon is done you have to adapt to those circumstances too.
  • Nathan,

    Just for a second, here's a thought experiment: La Marseillaise played on kazoos and saxophones.

    The nature of the music to which these antiphons are set , and proper performance technique for that music lend themselves to extending the time needed before singing begins. If we're going to reduce the time.... why not just choose a different piece, from a different genre of music?
  • Andrew Malton
    Posts: 835
    Priests must obey their Bishop but it's not clear if he can order them to make certain choices and avoid other legitimate ones in the liturgy. In my diocese in 2018 the Bishop ordered:

    * To avoid "for the most part" chant in Latin and other than the one chant Mass in the hymnal
    * To avoid all music that doesn't include the faithful singing at least a refrain -- except offertory
    * To avoid all music for the Responsorial Psalm other than one-cantor-congregational-refrain.
    * To not introduce chanted Our Father where it's not already the practice
    * To sing a communion hymn with refrain, and not the Communion Antiphon
    * Deacons not to kneel during Mass
    * Servers not to kneel to receive Communion
    * Faithful not to genuflect before receiving Communion standing
    * Not to say the prayer to St Michael after the dismissal (even though Mass is over by then)

    Perhaps filial devotion would obey anyway.

    The singing of both an entrance antiphon and an entrance hymn is not clearly allowed by the rubrics. I think it's a great idea and have done it -- but have also experienced pushback.
  • Andrew,

    If one compares the actual requirements of the Church to those of this bishop, one might think one had just come from a photography dark room, where everything is inverted.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,983
    CGZ - one reason might be to allow the musicians to play their instrumental piece to the point where pastor and congregation begin to ask 'Why are we standing around waiting for these people to show off? Should we look at alternatives?'