Singing the Passion (Palm Sunday, Good Friday)
  • I noticed in the most recent GIA catalog the following very appealing item, and was hoping that someone out there has seen (or even better, actually used) this book. As it's $45, I'm loathe to buy it until I can get a thumbs up from a musician of good taste. Three copies are available for the discounted price of $120.

    Passion Gospels (Vatican Edition / Robert Batastini)
    1999, GIA Publications, Inc.
    Nothing lends dignity and solemnity to the Passion Gospels more than observing the practice of three deacons or cantors proclaiming these stories according to the traditional chant. Based on the 1988 Vatican edition of the Passion Gospels, this setting of the Passions according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from the revised Lectionary is beautifully bound in a cloth-covered “worthy” book. Liturgists, theologians, Scripture scholars, and pastors alike are growing in their awareness of the total inappropriateness of having the assembly “play act” by shouting, “Crucify him!” and “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.” Why do some insist on asking people to say things they don’t mean? No wonder assemblies never really shout, “Crucify him!”
    This edition restores the Passion Gospels to the idiom of proclamation before the assembly. Modeled after the Vatican edition and adapted from the Vatican chants, this classic publication printed in black and red ink captures all the beauty of the original Latin. Large enough so three Passion chanters (Narrator, Christus, and Speaker) can read from one book, or take advantage of the special pricing by ordering three copies. Notated in modern, stemless chant notation.

    While we're at it -- has anyone used the GIA English editions of Heinrich Schutz's Passions?
  • I bought and used these books in my previous Novus Ordo parish.
    They use the required NAB text and are pointed (very well) using the traditional Passion tone.
    They are very nice, large, red leatherette ceremonial books.
    They use the traditional arrangement of red/black staves and notes.
    They use modern notation (note heads without stems on a five-line staff).
    They are definitely the most beautiful thing GIA sells.

    [I might add that I am an extreme critic of GIA (and OCP) and thus would not give a positive review to something of theirs that I had not myself bought and found entirely satisfactory. Indeed, my giving such a recommendation here might already have caused heart failure among frequent readers of this forum.]
  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    I claim no expertise or necessarily good taste, but I did chant the Good Friday Passion last year from this book with our pastor and high schooler from our parish (I'm 30). It was a nicely constructed book for liturgical use, large and sturdy. And I agree that the pointing was done well to the traditional tones. It was a joy (er, perhaps not joy but you get the idea...) to chant the Passion from these books.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    They're certainly beautifully bound and of a ceremonial size, and there's little enough to criticize about the pointing (I cant remember offhand whether the lamentation tone is included in an appendix, though). But we've gone back to three ring binders with Bud Clark's (rather free) arrangment of the Victoria, and use polyphonic turbae on Passion Sunday as well: Schütz/GIA (no worse than Concordia's edition) for Matthew, Mark and Luke according to Lassus. I hope to add Guerrero (with the Toledan tone) someday and, with current uncertainty about cantors, am toying with arranging an Arragonese passion: the Saragossan tone uses a bass evangelist and a tenor Christus. For the interested, Gonalez Valle's La tradicion del canto litugico de la pasion en Espana is volume 49 of Monumentos de la musica Espanola.
  • First off, thank you Daniel and Dan (and Richard), for reassuring me as to the quality of the publication and its content. I am considerably more at ease about buying it -- before the more difficult step of convincing people to use it!

    Let me take this opportunity to ask a question that has probably been answered a hundred times, but regrettably, not at a time when my eyes saw the answer: Is it contrary to existing church law for non-ordained cantors to sing the Passion on Palm Sunday or Good Friday? And granting that one might utilize lay cantors for the other two parts, what about the Christus? I know it would be anathema in the context of the E.F., but perhaps not in the context of the O.F. in a parish where mighty efforts are under way to "reform the reform," and where musical talent is not widely distributed or, let's say, adequately developed yet.

    A couple questions, Richard: (1) when you speak of "going back to three ring binders," what does that mean for the narration itself, apart from turbae choruses? Is there another plainsong setting of the Passion in English, besides the one Fr. Samuel Weber has provided? (2) Any opinions on the Victoria turbae published by GIA?

    For the record, I'm thoroughly disgusted with GIA's vision (if one can call eclectic blindness vision) and their catalog but they do have a number of valuable Renaissance and English chant items.
  • Heath
    Posts: 934
    Professor, are you aware of this document?

    It should answer some of your questions.

    Here is Bud Clark's arrangement of the chant with Victoria interspersed:

    The translation is not what we use; I use the GIA chant books for the chant with his choruses. The Victoria choruses through GIA are fine, though a step up, in F major, which could cause some problems if you use the chant books which are in Eb lydian.

    If I may add my own queries to this discussion . . .

    1) Richard, where could I get my hands on some of those non-Victoria turba choruses? I've thought about trying something different this year.

    2) Any other turba settings out there that people use and give a thumbs-up to?
  • Heath, thanks for the link -- I'd seen that document before but forgot to look there. Here is the relevant passage:

    "33. The Passion narrative occupies a special place. It should be sung or read in the traditional way, that is, by three persons who take the part of Christ, the narrator and the people. The Passion is proclaimed by deacons or priests, or by lay readers; in the latter case, the part of Christ should be reserved to the priest."

    and again:

    "66. The readings are to be read in their it entirety. The responsorial psalm and the chant before the Gospel are to he sung in the usual manner. The narrative of the Lord's Passion according to John is sung or read in the way prescribed for the previous Sunday (cf. n. 33). After the reading of the Passion, a homily should he given, at the end of which the faithful may be invited to spend a short time in meditation."

    Not to sound legalistic, but what's the force here of "should be reserved"? Sometimes in church documents that would mean "must be reserved" and cannot be otherwise; other times, "fittingly reserved unless pastoral circumstances dictate otherwise." I know that pastoral circumstances are the Pandora's Box, but still I raise the question in good faith, as a lover of chanted readings.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    I wonder if it means first refusal ;-) In fact I always invite him, so the part of Christus is technically reserved to the priest, but there is always an understudy on hand.

    To answer one of ProfK's questions, I do prefer having everything between two covers; we last did the Lassus St. Luke from my cued turba-Christus score with the evangelist juggling the GIA book, but I wouldnt do it that way again. The narrations in Bud Clark's editions work well enough for us. I suppose I should take a peek at the GIA Victoria though...
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Is there an authentic gregorian version? I may take a stab at composing a setting after I finish the Magnificat for Dr. Ford.
  • Simon
    Posts: 153
    Francis: An 'authentic' gregorian version of all four of the gospel settings is in the Officium Majoris Hebdomadae (Sung liturgy of Holy Week) downloadable on the home page of Musica Sacra. Look at the mass on Palm Sunday, for example, for the St. Matthew Passion and at the mass on Good Friday for the St. John Passion.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,703
    Tnx Simon... Will look it up.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    Argh, our Passionaries got covered with grime during repainting this Fall, and while I had set them out for cleaning after changing my clothes someone tossed them in a dumpster. Are notated versions of the lectionary English available anywhere online while I try to convince Fr. to come up with money for replacements?
  • CGM
    Posts: 690
    Fr. Weber's English adaptation of the Passion of St. John is here: of John. Good Friday.pdf

  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,775
    Thanks; lots else of interest in the main directory but I'm trying to interest Fr. in St Matthew's Christus.
  • CGM
    Posts: 690
    There are two different English translations of St. Matthew's Passion (with Victoria's Turba) here:
  • Does anyone happen to have turba chorus for the Matthew Passion in English that match the Lectionary?