Arguments, please
  • Given the following:

    1) Byrd and Isaac, and others, wrote polyphonic propers for the entire cycle
    2) Sacred Polyphony is positively encouraged by the authentic magisterium of the Church.
    3) Gregorian Chant is to have pride of place

    Does it follow that

    1) The Polyphonic Propers could supplement, but never ever supplant the Gregorian Chant Propers


    2) It would be possible, to have, at least in theory, Polyphonic Propers for an entire Sunday (or Holy Day)

  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,581
    You did not mention Palestrina and his Offertories...

    We have some options...
    1. Only sing Gregorian Chant
    2. Sing Polyphonic motets with Chant Ordinary and Propers
    3. Sing Polyphonic Ordinary with Chant Propers
    4. Sing Polyphonic Propers with Chant Ordinary
    5. Sing Polyphonic Propers and Polyphonic Ordinary

    Firstly it is not usually possible to sing a complete cycle of Polyphonic Propers as the Gradual is very rarely set.

    We are also told that we can sing Polyphony to add greater solemnity... So on some great feasts we could choose option 5 above (we choose this option on Maundy Thursday we may also do this on Pentecost).

    While it is o.k. to only choose option 1 this does deprive us of a vast quantity of beautiful music, and choosing options 3, 4 and 5 deprive us of the timeless beauty of the ancient chants. So as a compromise why not choose all the options!
    Thanked by 2francis CHGiffen
  • francis
    Posts: 10,476
    Option 6

    chant with organ accompaniment

    Option 7

    One I have often thought about but never put into practice would be to set the NOH accompaniment to SATB. Thoughts?
    Thanked by 1DavidOLGC
  • [accidentally posted twice]

    Please restore the original version, and delete the duplicate, rather than vice versa.
  • Hey, if the normie folks can go guitar for every song, surely you guys can do complete polyphony for propers and ordinary alike. Legislation especially endorses polyphony for days of solemnity and festivity. Holy Days are thus super opportune to run with this approach.

    Personally, my preferred approach is Polyphony Ordinary with Gregorian Propers. But that's just me. If using only Gregorian Chant and no other genre, I also like organ accompaniment for the ordinary and a capella for the propers.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • John,

    If a behavior is deplorable, the fact that it exists does not justify (in itself) other people behaving badly. If replacing the chant completely with polyphony is wrong, then it ought not to be done, any more than recorded music ought to be used, or [fill in list of abuses here]

    Switching gears, why do you prefer polyphonic Ordinary with Gregorian Propers? (Could it be argued, by those guitar-strumming stereotypes of yours, that you've intentionally removed congregational participation with that approach?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,476
    I think Gregorian Ordinaries is a great way to keep the congregation involved and singing THE Mass instead of hymns.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,891
    I think you are fortunate if you can do any of the options. In many U.S. churches you wouldn't be allowed to do any of them.
    Thanked by 1John_F_Church
  • I would presume that polyphonic propers would fall under the “degrees of solemnity” argument, since they are ultimately derived from the plainsong tradition, and typically rely heavily on the Gregorian melodies via cantus firmi, etc.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw John_F_Church
  • Off topic, - the title of this thread is one of the most quintessentially “Trad” things I’ve ever read.
  • Stimson,

    Given that I mean the word "argument" in a technical "put forward a position" sense, not "squabble like you're politicians the day after a shellacking" (sp), I'll take that as a compliment.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • I thought of Monty Python, though.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,273
    @francis I have heard the NOH sung SATB once and it was lovely. I did an English arrangement of one chant that way once, but it was beyond my choir’s abilities at the time, so it was abandoned. I might be able to do it now…maybe I should try again!
  • francis
    Posts: 10,476

    Which Mass/Movement(s) did you set?
  • If replacing the chant completely with polyphony is wrong

    But who said it's wrong? No law forbids it, as far as Kyriale and propers (introit, gradual, etc.) are concerned. In fact, chant is never completely replaced by polyphony because the most important parts (hierachically speaking) – the chants of priest, deacon, lector, et al. – are always chanted.
  • CGZ,

    Re: Active Participation

    If you interpret "active participation" in a very literal manner, Musicam Sacram technically advises against approaches to music at Mass where lay involvement is entirely excluded. So if you wanted to do both ordinaries and propers in a polyphonic style, perhaps that would be an issue.

    But what if you threw in some hymns or something like that for a post communion or a recessional??? :D

    Re: Replacing Gregorian Chant:

    As has already been said, the call for higher solemnity would be sufficient enough "excuse." In truth, you haven't actually gotten rid of all the chant from the Mass -- you will still have the dialogues between priest and faithful.

    (Re: switching gears)

    FWIW I prefer, at least for higher holy days, Polyphonic Ordinaries with Gregorian Propers, because
    A: it seems appropriate to musically highlight the more mainstay elements of the Mass -- either through polyphony or through chant with organ accompaniment. (liturgical accentuation)
    B: It provides diversity for the musical appetite (much lesser reason but still a valid one.)

    Ultimately, Pius X says that chant and polyphony agree admirably with each other and it's not like you do polyphony exclusively with absolutely no presence for chant. If you have an opportunity to do just polyphony, and you have internal permission of conscience to try it, go for it and see how it works.

    As Chesterton says, "anything worth doing is worth doing badly."
  • John,

    I most emphatically don't understand "active participation" in the manner you have called "very literal".

    Thank you for the reminder that the dialogues are, themselves, chanted.


    I don't insist that replacing chant with polyphony (within a single Mass) is wrong. I merely raise the question. I have encountered those who insist that polyphony MAY NOT and SHOULD NOT replace the chant Propers, and this position seems untenable, so I took the opposite position as a thought experiment.
    Thanked by 1John_F_Church
  • Christmas? Easter? Pentecost? PLEASE use polyphonic propers!!!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,273
    @francis Hoo-boy, that's digging deep into the ol' memory banks. A Lenten text for sure...I'll have to see if I can find it.
  • Yes. 1 and 2
    Which is to say that I reject the argument that a choice must be made. And just as the title is quintessentially Trad, the question itself is quintessentially Trad: "We must obey all the guidance, all the time, even when it contradicts itself."

    In practical terms, it would be a rare choir indeed that could do all polyphony during a Mass. Chant WILL make an appearance, even if only for the Credo.

    Until the 1570s or so, Proper settings were based on the corresponding chant as a cantus firmus. Which speaks to how they regarded the chant. We've had >400 years of not doing that, so I don't think it's necessary. OTOH, I can't imagine setting the Dies Irae or In Splendoribus without using the chant in a very clear way.

    Even after the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, it doesn't follow that there will be unlimited musical resources. Some Masses will have polyphony, some will have chant, and it will all be good. So Pope Geoffrey I decrees: If you have a choir that can sing a complete polyphonic Proper well, then do so, for any old feast you can. And if not, then not. The balance of chant will take care of itself.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • Jeffrey,

    Let me see if I understand.

    You are of the informed and thoughtful opinion that Polyphony and Chant can be used, on any given occasion, and that any combination (all chant, all polyphony and any percentage in the middle) can be used, according to the skill level of the choir?

    If that's what you've said, I find myself in agreement with you.
    Thanked by 2ServiamScores tomjaw
  • Considering that Chant is our music, par excellence, and that Renaissance polyphony (especially the likes of Palestrina) has been deliberately called out by various popes as being particularly well-suited to the Roman Rite, and that the aforementioned musical style is worthy of imitation and the treasury of such works is to be aggrandized, I also find myself in complete agreement.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen francis tomjaw