More choral propers in English (1957)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    This is a fascinating work: Introits and Graduals for the Church Year, a large set of choral propers by Healey Willan.

    I haven't tried them yet but they are a distant cousin to Rice's own work in this regard. The calendar is preconciliar. The text is English. I can only suppose that it was an Anglican book. but clearly useful !
  • While Healey Willan was the quintessential 'Anglo-Catholic' (high-church Anglican) composer, this collection for the Lutheran liturgy was the fruit of his long-time affiliation with Concordia, the principal Lutheran publishing house, located in Saint Louis. The Lutheran liturgy, while obviously a major venue for vernacular hymnody, retained (at least formally) the introit and gradual propers. High-church Lutheran parishes sang them alongside their spectacular hymn repertory. Several complete settings of these propers, in a number of different, simple styles, were published throughout the second quarter of the twentieth century. This activity was very much a part of the Lutheran participation in the Liturgical Movement, which influenced much of mainstream Protestantism. (Others in this forum will know far more about this than I.)

    On a related question, does anyone know where one might obtain a copy of Willan's (unpublished) editing of the Gregorian propers for the Ritual Choir (men; chant; vested in sanctuary) of his Anglican parish in Toronto? As Anglicans gather up the worthy elements of their patrimony for the journey across the Tiber, this sort of thing will sure be a worthy part of the luggage.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Yes, several readers pointed this out to me, that these were for the Lutheran church. It's incredible. It gives rise to many possible observations, among which: would that we could progress to where many Lutherans were in 1957.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Don't forget the Willan Mass Propers found in the Hymnal 1940, which Episcopalians sang regularly until the new Hymnal was published.
    Also, one of my favorite Epiphany anthems is Willan's 'The Three Kings' which I first sang in High School choir many years ago. I doubt if anything like that could be sung in a public school nowadays.
    And his lovely setting of 'Rise up my fair one and come away' for Easter

    Donna
  • There are no 'mass' Propers of any kind in The Hymnal, 1940.
    It contains hymns, settings of the Ordinary in English, and music for the singing of canticles and other elements of the Office.
    Choirs in high-church Episcopalian parishes frequently sang propers from an assortment of the English-language chant materials recently posted here on MusicSacra, but not from hymnals.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    Oops- didn't mean Propers. Sorry- was working on something else, and just wasn't thinking.
    Donna
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Wow, my church has one of these, namely the easter set! I was considering using it this year, but have too much else going on right now. These are certainly not going to go down as the greatest music of all time (it can be compared to a polyphonic Alstott) but they are wonderful solutions to the question of propers, and at the least suitable for large occasions.
  • Frankly, Willan's works published with Concordia were written primarily to make a living, since his principal positions in Toronto were quite poorly paid.
    With a few exceptions, these pieces are inoffensive and quite dull.
    They work well with inexperienced choirs which need to stick to the musical basics.
    He reserved all of his best works for Canadian and British publishers.
  • JDE
    Posts: 582
    And so Maestro Willan is dismissed with a sniff.

    Many of us actually have "inexperienced choirs which need to stick to the musical basics," so this might be right up our alley.

    The characterization of this music as "quite dull" is pretty uncharitable, especially for the above referenced inexperienced choirs. Not sure what you're expecting from him, but when they were intended for ease of use, it seems to me that he is right on target. Even though they are made to be simple, there are still a good many twists and turns that sound like full-fledged Willan, at least to me, and serve to keep the listener's interest.

    The fact that the Lutheran propers mostly coincide with the Catholic ones is a happy vestige of pre-Reformation unity.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Yurodivi, I agree whole-heartedly. It seems to me that Willan's and Rice's approach is incredibly useful.

    There is a danger in thinking that if something isn't Josquin, Palestrina, or Bach, then it's not worth doing. That's nonsense. There has to be a bridge, a graduated series, oriented in the right direction.

    What we all want (I think) are holy and calendrically appropriate chant and polyphony, whatever our schola/choir level of proficiency and position in the Latin/vernacular universe.

    We should emphatically not say, "it's Palestrina or nothing."

    Even in the EF, if you take that line, you will either have a) nothing at all, for a host of reasons, or b) choirs attempting things beyond their competence, which is painful and arguably counterproductive, since it enables Modernist naysayers to pooh pooh the attempt and suggest pop/folk as the preferable alternative.

    Singing these Willan propers perfectly and beautifully will be GREATLY preferable to most of the trite nonsense I hear in many parishes.

    .02
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    It is difficult to sing music every single Sunday year after year with a volunteer choir using music of de Pres, etc. If I have to spend time in rehearsal on something difficult, obviously, it must be interspersed with other stuff that is easier for the choir to sing. Just the amt. of concentration needed to learn a Bach cantata or a Palestrina motet, requires a certain relaxation afterwards.
    I do agree that the Willan things for Concordia are often simple, but so what? Last Sunday we sang a beautiful two-part anthem by Sam Batt Owens. It's not Byrd, but so what? We're singing him this Sunday.

    Donna
  • Wow: lots of paper-thin skin in here.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    LOL You meanie weanie, DBP!
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    it's a hot medium. If we were in a cocktail lounge, we would all speak in ways that are normal and friendly. something about this venue tempts everyone to speak with sharp words. It's good to remember that. Differences of opinion are good. They lead to improvement in our own views. They help us all think about the big picture. But seeing through the bombast can sometimes be difficult. Let's all strive to be peacemakers please.
  • Aaron
    Posts: 103
    We are singing Willan's introit for Ascension and Pentecost. My other favorites from this collection include Laetare, Holy Thursday, Easter, and the Second and Fourth Sunday of Advent. Are there recordings available of any from this collection?