The Best Music for Mass
  • MarkB
    Posts: 414
    Video by a Millennial Catholic named Brian Holdsworth about music at Mass:

    Good explanation with a presentation demeanor that won't be off-putting. He won't convince everyone, but it's a useful video to have bookmarked to show people who don't know much about the Church's teaching about and preference for sacred music at Mass. The fact that he admits he used to be a guitar-playing P&W enthusiast at Mass but now thinks that secular styles of music don't belong at Mass gives him added credibility in now promoting Gregorian chant.

    Speaking for myself, as much as I admire and support the ideal of Gregorian chant, there's no way I could implement that in my parish without being run out or without the parish losing over 50% of families. So videos like this one present something that I consider an ideal to work towards slowly at the parish level.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,211
    Even Westminster Cathedral has the full melismatic chant of GR for only one Mass a day. The desideratum that every Sunday Mass should be sung as much as possible does not require a choir to turn out at 8:00, 9:00, 12:00, 17:30, and 19:00. And neither SC nor GIRM were written in the expectation of that. We need to put adequate resources into sustaining use of GR, certainly where feasible. But I think even more we need to move all liturgies to use of the available sacred forms, and exclude the profane. There is an abundance of suitable sacred music which does not require trained singers just on the CMAA website.
  • But I think even more we need to move all liturgies to use of the available sacred forms, and exclude the profane.

    Agreed. I'm increasingly growing to love chant, but even well-done chant doesn't always fill the hole in my heart that can only be filled by certain other types of music (motets, cantatas, etc.). The exclusion of the profane, as well as a focus on the proper texts, in whatever musical form they are set, seems to me a happy medium.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    My biggest complaint against the Trads goes like this. They have ignored the mandates of at least three popes to simplify the ordinaries so they can be sung by the congregation. The difficult and elaborate ordinaries requiring a practiced choir are still the norm. I could see doing that for one "high mass" or 'higher mass' once per week. That is what my parish did before Vatican II. The music was simpler and more people friendly at the other masses. The history of church music is not just that time when Gregorian chant was common. We have hundreds of years worth of excellent music to use. Granted, in most U.S. Catholic parishes you may not hear anything older than fifty years.
  • We chant the ordinary and the congregation joins in < shrug > .

    Schola chants the proper.

    Clergy chant the readings and orations.

    Vernacular hymn at the end.

    Sacred symphony!
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores cmb
  • Charles, which Gregorian ordinaries would you consider singable by a congregation, out of curiosity?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    I was referring to one Trad mass and the remainder in the vernacular, at least today. In my earlier all Latin days with one high mass, more elaborate choir settings were used with St. Gregory Hymnal settings approachable for a congregation at the non-high masses. Mozart, Haydn, and Vivaldi are definitely not congregational music.
  • It is not beyond the determined and talented teacher-choirmaster, nor the willing and determined congregation to sing most, if not all, the Gregorian ordinaries. There are/were many Anglican parishes who sang them all to the English adaptations by Canon Charles Winfred Douglas. Canon Douglas, who flourished in the early and mid XXth century, was a preeminent scholar of chant. His St Dunstan's Kyrial was a staple in most Anglo-Catholic parishes, where the people sang every one of them. The constant whining that 'the people can't sing' these is pure twaddle. All it takes is desire and competence to teach them..

    The Cum jubilo mass, which appears in the back of The Hymnal 1940, is widely known by Episcopalians as the Missa Marialis and is sung regularly by the people at Walsingham. It also appears, along side of the Missa de Angelis, in The Hymnal 1982.

    (If any might be interested in Canon Douglas's St Dunstan's Kyrial, it is available from Amazon.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    Missa de Angelis is popular in our place among the Trads.
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • Same here, although we had Orbis Factor all through the summer.

    Orbis Factor should be a sci fi movie about interplanetary missionaries teaching chant to aliens.
  • The Gregorian ordinaries remain the finest and most musical Ordinaries singable by a congregation to this day. None of the other unison settings remotely approach them.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 403
    Isn't this video directed at the OF Mass? Is Sacred Music only for the EF, it shouldn't be. What does the church consider profane in the OF? In the OF, profane to one person might be acceptable to another. For example, "Christ has no body now but yours" is profane but "Amazing Grace" is not. In my thinking, if the church wants better music for the Mass, she should be more adamant about the guidelines she has written.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,211
    What does the church consider profane in the OF?
    That must always be a prudential judgement, varying from place to place and time to time. We are told the organ was excluded from the early church because of it's then lewd and lascivious associations. I have no experience of brothels, but I can imagine that within my lifetime the Hammond organ has been heard in such places.

    Within inner London, the number of OF Masses with melismatic Gregorian propers far outweighs the number of EF sung Masses, even discounting the two cathedrals.
  • ,,,lewd and lascivious...
    True, the early organ was employed in certain entertainments. But, not to get a lopsided view of things, it was also used by the Romans and Byzantines in certain ceremonies surrounding the emperor. It was first used in liturgy in parts of Germany at least as early as the sixth century, and was introduced into Roman liturgy by the seventh century Pope Vitalian. So, the Church baptised the organ and appreciated its innate beauty quite early on.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    I have wondered if the disappearance of chariot races after the fall of Rome had anything to do with it. No more races and no more organs. In the east, the instruments continued to be banned because they were identified with secular entertainments. Those chariot races must have been wild events. I have read the nobility and emperor feared riots that could easily break out at the races.

    Bring back the organ beaters.

  • davido
    Posts: 384
    I agree with Jackson that the traditional Gregorian melodies are within the reach of a congregation, particularly VIII, IX, XI, and XVII which are the ones I have used. Now in order to sing them, you have to be able to SING. Not knowing how to use one’s voice is the problem I find plaguing Catholics. Most of them don’t know how to sing and thus get no enjoyment out of singing good music like the aforementioned Gregorian ordinaries.
    Anglicans seem to be born knowing how to sing and appreciate fine music.
    Or maybe those qualities are developed...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,659
    It is a matter of experience. I studied organ at a Protestant college. That denomination had a history of incorporating children into church music and using their talents in their Sunday schools and worship services. Some were a bit shocked when I told them no such programs exist in Catholic churches. While they train and bring up their own musicians we often have to go outside to hire them.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,656
    They are doable, particularly if they are promoted as being the music of the people intrinsic to the Rite.

    My Congregation sing (Ordinary Form):

    Kyries I, VIII, XI, XVI, XVII, XVIII-B; plus both from Mass V of the Simplex;
    Gloria VIII; plus an Englished version of the Mozarabic setting, and an English setting by Ralph Bednar from t'Forum;
    Sanctuses VIII, XVII, XVIII, and More Ambrosiano (from Mass III of the Simplex);
    Agnuses VIII, XVII, XVIII, ad lib II.

    I am currently working on Introducing Sanctus & Agnus XVI.

    They also sing the "Dies sanctificatus" Alleluia --- with the jubilus.
  • I’d love to see the Mozarabic version!
    Thanked by 1trentonjconn