Communion Solo Organ Music
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    I have long thought that much of what I am playing has more meaning to me than to the congregation. For them, it is mostly mood. They have little idea what even the titles are. There are exceptions, of course, but maybe half the folks don't even notice.
    Thanked by 2Lars francis
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    CharlesW

    You have to play Happy Birthday at the end of Mass when requested to get the people to pay attention.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Lars
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    LOL. Fortunately, the pastors I worked for would not allow it.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    “French baroque recits make very good communion music”


    @M.JacksonOsborn can you give a specific example, please. I went through a lot of these french organ music books and could not find much for communion, theres tons of processional and recessional music there though, which I play all the time.
  • Never sell people short, not even at communions.
    I never play 'background music', and have received many compliments on my communion music over the years.
    I have often said that what we say of others may or may not be objectively true - but more important is what what we say of others says about us.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • >> Does Jesus have elevators?!
    If I remember correctly, St Therese of Lisieux said yes - well, just the one (the one we are all trying to get on!)
    Thanked by 2francis Lars
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Mmeladirectress

    I believe that is an escalator installed by Jacob & Co.
  • 'We are climbing Jacob's ladder...'
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Lars
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,163
    Jacob saw a ladder,
    the top of which reached to heaven,
    and angels descending on it.
    And he said: Surely this place is holy. Alleluia.

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    My score for the Crecquillon is attached.
  • Many thanks, Chuck, for that elevating music - good for communions on an appropriate feast,
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    It’s very “uplifting”!
  • Anyone have more like Maleingreau's Communion from his Messe du jour de Noel?

    My folks loved it.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    I don't understand why everyones talking about elevators all of a sudden while I'm sitting here, pulling my hair out. I've seen Handels "Water Music" mentioned in some other thread. How do you justify playing it in the church if the original was composed to entertain the protestant king?
  • davido
    Posts: 891
    I think that Water music is music of the requisite dignity for playing in church. It’s analogous to the use of organ in the liturgy: the organ was an instrument for imperial functions that we adopted into the court of our true King, to whom honor and praise are more fitting than to any earthly ruler.

    Also, there is the old point that in Handel’s era, the line between secular and religious art music was not as sharp (the secular music was more formal and dignified). Plus, there is the small-t tradition of its long use in church, which has to at least be considered (I know, that last argument is a slippery slope).

    Is there music more appropriate for church? Of course!
    Thanked by 2Lars marymezzo
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    Much time has passed since this music was written. Many of these "secular" pieces have lost their original associations. Now they are just well-written pieces with many possible uses.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    Fair enough
  • One could say the same about later English voluntaries by Stanley, Walond, Boyce, and others. They typically have two to four short 'movements', the highlight being the trumpet or cornet tune with echos. At a glance, as musical compositions they are child's play, and although they were written for church, they are quite obviously congregational entertainment music for an unfortunate period of decadence in the C of E. There really is nothing 'sacred' about them. They do, though, make fitting celebratory voluntaries and processionals for great feasts and events such as weddings. These voluntaries have come a long way from their serious early XVIth century progenitors, which were basically one movement imitative pieces crafted skillfully on several successive 'points' (subjects), often with a virtuosic flourish at the end.

    And sorry, Charles, but I seriously question the fashionable use of the 'Water Music' and other such works for weddings and other festal occasions. Their utter lack of any sacral air is as apparent as is that of other, very chic nowadays, organ arrangements of romantic orchestral pieces which have no connection at all with Christian worship. They are, in fact, antithetical to it. This holds true for Mendelssohn and Wagner at weddings. Contributing nothing but a minus to worship, such 'arrangements' are obviously entertainment music for congregations who are presumed not to be particularlyt pious or devout, and tasteless organists who haven't a clue as to the sanctity of where they are at and what they are playing for.

    There is no end at all of real liturgical organ music that was written for and is appropriate for any mood and occasion that arises in Christian worship. There isn't the slightest need or justification for dipping into patently secular genres.
    Thanked by 2mmeladirectress Lars
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    I gave up the wedding wars years ago and refused to play for them. There were always hungry organists in town who were delighted to play weddings. More power to them.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • "If played as originally written for young orphan girls to play unseen behind a screen "Yes" but if the organist is seated in full view of a congregation, a definite "NO!"""

    Music of such drama may be very effective in liturgical celebrations. But if the organist is in the view of the people - and even worse if there is a choir and strings - it becomes a performance and the physical movements and all this distract from the liturgy.

    Masses have always been heard, not seen - if that is not true, then why the common phrase, "I am going to hear Mass." Often heard in other lands but also here in the USA.


  • So performative music isn't a performance as long as there's no visual aspect? I'm sorry, but that makes no sense.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    I have played Dupre, Tournemire, and others at communion. The music might have been a bit difficult but there was no thrashing around or showing off at the console. I thought we learned better than that when we were organ students.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,987
    Another ladder song, but choral, not organ: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrmR45-teoU
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,774
    What has to be "heard" at Mass is the celebrant. Visual distraction is only a problem when the congregation faces ad orientum.
  • I know that 'hearing' mass is a locution and a concept that has been around for centuries. It seems to me, though, that we are called to do much more than 'hear' mass. We are called to participate in it by being spiritually attuned to it and it alone, mentally and physically alive to it, by being vocal in our responses, by singing our parts, hearing and responding to the lectionary, and whole heartedly professing the creed and making our responses with every fiber of our being. There is so much more to our relationship with the mass than 'hearing' it. That is a concept and attitude that, it seems to me, (finally!) went out with the liturgical reforms of Vatican II - not to mention the admonitions of quite a few popes in the past several hundred years. I don't go to mass passively to 'hear' it, but actively to participate in it.
    The days are gone in which all was expected (or, indeed, desired!) of the people were for them to 'hear' the mass and watch the mass whilst being wrapped up in their private devotions and doing nothing to spoil the spectacle.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,774
    Certainly that "full conscious and active participation" as an ideal is older than Vatican II (or why would it have been articulated?). The 'paradigm shift' is over what that might actually mean. A new familiar quotation that seems to have been popularized by Walter Benjamin (and is missing from Bartlet's) is attributed by him to Malebranche: "Attentiveness is the natural prayer of the Soul." Let the audience say: Amen.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    We do our utmost when hearing Mass.

    DEVOUT METHOD OF HEARING MASS

    It was the opinion of Chrysostom (Homil. 3, incomp. Dei. Nat.), in harmony with that which has just been taught in the preceding instruction, and his opinion was confirmed by St. Gregory in the fourth of his Dialogues, that while holy Mass is being celebrated by the priest, the heavens open and there descend from the empyrean many bands of Angels to assist at the Divine sacrifice. St. Nilus the Abbot, disciple of the aforesaid St. John Chrysostom, avers of that holy Doctor of the Church that, while celebrating, he saw about the altar a great multitude of those heavenly spirits, assisting the sacred ministers in their holy function. Behold, then, the most proper method of assisting with fruit at holy Mass. Go to the church as if you were going to Calvary, and behave yourself before the altar as before the throne of God, in company with the holy Angels. See what modesty, what reverence, what attention, are requisite from us in order that we may carry away the fruit and the blessings which Almighty God is wont to bestow on him who honors with devout demeanor these sacred mysteries.


    I am sorry that these wonderful epiphanies escape some of you. But I will admit, one just doesn’t “show up” at Mass to be able to enter in.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    I was browsing an old French hymnal, found this Tantum Ergo hymn set to Mozarts piano sonata No.11(on the page it says No.6 for some reason). Not sure if I would be comfortable singing, or especially playing this as a solo in the church. What do you comrades think?
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • What do I think? I want to hear the other variations.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Purp on/ As long as you dance the minuet while you sing it, then It would be appropriate I suppose. /Purp off
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • The poor in taste we always will have, and have had, with us.
    This is a not at all cute travesty to both Mozart and to Tantum Ergo.
    It is in the same low class as the infamous Ave Maria based on Bach's C-Major prelude from the WTC.
    Thanked by 2Lars francis
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,397
    I be even less happy singing the beginning of sonata no.6 K.284.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Lars
  • I second the Rheinberger. I also recommend the Cantilene from Rheinberger Sonata 11 in Dm.
    Thanked by 2Lars NihilNominis
  • Ted
    Posts: 203
    Getting back to the original question, Louis Raffy many years ago put together a huge collection in 5 volumes of Classical/Romantic style organ music suitable for the liturgy called "Organistes Célèbres et Grands Maîtres Classiques." There are certainly many pieces there suitable for Communion. The volumes are graded in terms of playing difficulty. Volumes 1 -> 4 can be downloaded for free at IMSLP, while vol 5 (highest difficulty) and apparently a sixth volume can be bought at free-scores.com
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    I'm learning Bach BWV 668. To me, personally this is the ideal communion music. If you know similar pieces by Bach or any other composer please post them here.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    Lovely piece for communion, but how do you play it properly? Melody on the pedals?
  • MarkS
    Posts: 282
    You could solo out the melody in the pedals (there is an E. Power Biggs edition which transcribes it this way as one alternative) but standard practice would be to play it entirely on one manual, and it can be absolutely lovely that way.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • Our organist frequently would play Bach’s Arioso from Cantata No. 156. It’s one of my favourites to meditate upon during communion.

    He’s also do the Largo from the New World Symphony, another one of my preferred communion mediation pieces.

    Those are the only two I recognized.

    He’d also just take the Liber Brevior and improvise on the communion proper chant.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    thanks @SponsaChristi BWV 156 is in my repertoire already, really lovely piece. will have to check out the New World Symphony.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    I'm really fond of Pachelbel's "Ricercare in C-minor". Would it be appropriate for communion?
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    Depends on your registrations. My organ professor always said that if you accidentally pull on the chamade during communion they will notice.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    That is a nice piece! I can't believe in all my years I have never played it. I just listened to Wolfgang Rubsam play it on a YouTube recording. Seems like a perfect communion piece.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • MarkS
    Posts: 282
    Pachelbel's "Ricercare in C-minor"

    Pieces that are sectional like this one are particularly handy for Communion as it is easy to 'customize' the length depending on how long Communion is taking.
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    Found another treasure, Bach's "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" BWV 656. very reverent piece, it's long enough for communion, its repeatable and its in sections. its perfect.
    it gets a little intense at the end..
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,077
    “I am Bach, but Beautiful”
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • MarkS
    Posts: 282
    Bach's "O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig" BWV 656


    Truly gorgeous, but the third 'verse' seems to require a full plenum, so might not work for Communion in some contexts. Bach here illustrates the chorale text, which is an elaborate sort of paraphrase on the Agnus Dei—the music intensifies before the final 'grant us peace' refrain which is symbolized by the beautiful running scale passages which close the setting.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 119
    playing through the Archives de l'Organiste
    everything is so schmaltz.

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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    Bach died, the Baroque period ended, the music changed, the audience's preferences changed and time marched on. That's the way it works.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • To Bach's credit, his music was démodée while he was still living, and he knew it, and yet he continued to write masterpiece after masterpiece in complete faithfulness to his craft. We care much too much about modern critics.
  • That's the way it works'
    Not quite! 'There's nothing new under the sum'. What ancient sage said that? The past is present and the present is the past in the twinkling of an eye. The world and its arts are always becoming - they never are. The 'past' is the present and the present is past. Anything of the 'past' which I haven't heard or seen is new and modern to me. Bach is as new as Stravinsky - who, but for Bach, would not exist, and, without Perotin Bach would not exist. Old stuff is the root of all that follows. Roots should be admired, nurtured, and treasured for their own particular beauty - and their relationship with our own efforts at timelessness. 'That's the way it works'.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,949
    Bach seems to me the end of the age of polyphony. I can understand why the generation that followed him, including his sons, went in a new direction. I have been so overexposed to Bach I am truthfully rather tired of him. I appreciate him from a technical standpoint but at the same time, I am glad there is other music available.
    Thanked by 1Lars