Teach the folk-Mass Catholic boy all about Anglican chant
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    Following a post in another thread...

    My parish job:
    What I would call a generic Episcopal church. Not particularly contemporary or traditional. (Mostly, they sing the 1982 Hymnal, slowly, on a bad electric organ).
    I'm moving toward a more traditional, Anglican/Anglo-Catholic approach, trying to draw from the both the English and Roman traditions. Of course, I only know the Catholic stuff (and that, not well enough- but at least I have a start).
    For example, I was shocked to learn that they have 4-part "chant."


    I'm somewhat aware of the big names in the English choral tradition (not that we have the skill for Byrd at this point, but one day...).
    My biggest question right now is Anglican chant and other "default" music-
    What should I do? What should I read? What should I buy? Other forums to participate in? Good recordings? Free resources? Is there an Anglican or Episcopal version of CMAA or NPM?

    I consider myself a guest in their house, and I would like to treat their tradition with respect. But no one there even knows about their own Anglican heritage. They're on liturgical autopilot. They like that I want to do it (and I have support of the Rector and the Vestry), but they really can't offer much help or guidance (I've already had to tell them stuff their doing wrong- which I only knew because I bothered to read the Prayer Book... which I don't think is part of their habit.).

    Anyway- um... help?
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757

    The best way to get the hang of it is to listen to it, and then do it. It's very much a performance tradition that you won't pick up by reading the dots in isolation. If you don't have an good Anglican Use or Episcopal church choir to hand that does Anglican Chant regularly, buy a recording or two (e.g. St. John's or King's College, Cambridge). Don't worry if you don't have the scores they sing from (College and Cathedral choirs often have their own collections of music): it's mostly straight-forward, four-part harmony that, as a Church organist, you'll be able to hear.

    BTW - Anglican Chant is mostly sung at matins and evensong, not the communion service, in which they tend to sub a hymn for the psalm (that's why it's often called 'the gradual', confusingly).

    If you're a member of the CMAA, then you'll be able to read about the origins of Anglican Chant in William Mahrt's article about the Psalm in the latest edition of 'Sacred Music'. If not, it's very easy to join ... *

    * note to Treasurer: do I get a discount for this?
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    A further thought, Adam: some Anglicans use a responsorial psalm in the communion service. If your clergy are so inclined, you might consider setting the responsorial psalm to a psalm-tone.
  • Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst, etc. They have some great music.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    They only have Sunday Morning communion service (which they call "Mass," I don't know if traditional minded RCs object to it being called that, but anyway...)
    They don't have a building, but one day they will and we'll start doing choral evensong and that sort of thing, but for now- the only thing they do is a communion service that looks all the world to be a poorly conceived Pauline Mass with Protestant Music and sloppy rubrics. Considering what I know of the Anglican tradition, I've been surprised because they seem to pay even less attention to the BCP than a 10:30 Family Mass with Children's Homily pays attention to the Roman Missal. I'm a rubrics guy anyway, but I push that agenda by feigning ignorance: "Well... I don't really know much about that, but this is what your prayer book says we ought to do..."

    They currently speak the psalm in unison after the OT reading. (Following the Revised Common Lectionary).
    I'd like to replace congregational speaking with congregational chanting.
    My goal is to make that change in Advent.
    (I'm considering doing chant only for the seasons and a responsorial during the time they don't call Ordinary Time- but I don't know if that makes any sense at all)

    Odd note re: "the Gradual"

    They were doing a random hymn during the Gospel procession, after the Epistle, and calling it a Gradual. I couldn't find any precedent for this usage in either the Roman or Anglican rites.
    I replaced it with a Gregorian Alleluia w/versical (mode VI, because it's easy and somewhat well-known), which we sing unaccompanied. Now that the congregation knows it, I'm going to replace the modern-chant notation of it in the program with square notes... just to get people moving in that direction.
    As we move into Advent and then the other seasons, my plan is to do a mode/tune that is appropriate to the season, following the Roman usage.

    re: clergy/vestry support
    They friggin' love me.
    I could come in tomorrow and say we're only doing Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck for the next year, or I could propose a clown-mass U2charist- they'd support it regardless.
    My big problems are time, talent, and treasure. (None of any.)
  • It sounds like you have all the right ideas in the right place, since they are so supportive of you. In our Anglican Use Catholic parishes we sing the Gradual Psalm in directum (straight through without a respond) to Anglican chant. You might want to consider this in your parish, or to sing it to a psalm tone with a respond. Too, you can sing the psalm with a respond while using Anglican chant for the verses. You could vary this by season or solemnity. Buy lots of recordings of the English cathedral choirs singing evensong - you can learn much just by listening. Also, if you have a cathedral or musically prominent parish within reasonable distance, arrange to have lunch and a tete a tete with the choirmaster. By the way, I'm picturing you in the East - where are you? This is Really Something! A Catholic teaching Anglicans how to be high church! Good for you! Do you use rite I, or rite II?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    I'm in TX, the Diocese of Ft. Worth, (on the liberal/loyalist/ECUSA side of the Diocesan schizm- for those of you who know about that sort of thing).

    Rite II

    A Catholic teaching Anglicans how to be high church!

    Crazy, huh? And who would have thought it'd be the hippie, feminist folk-Mass Catholic doing it?
    "Yes, yes- I like Be Not Afraid, too... no, we're not doing it."
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    We really need to post some book of Anglican-style chant harmonies. Which one? Where can we get a copy to put online?
  • They are, unfortunately, hard to find online for some reason. Some churches over there (UK) publish their own sets. Pretty cool

    I will dig a bit!
  • I think there would be interest in a class in anglican chant AND using BFW and the Gradual Simplex on the local levels.

    But then I realize that I am merely a dreamer.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    I too could use a good schooling in Anglican chant. I'm kind of going on my own. I've not seen any books about pointing, or conducting, or anything other than the prefaces in old psalters. I'd propose to Adam that a good way to get familiar with it (what I've gone on) is to sing it when you can at some place where it is commonly done.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    You guys are awesome, by the way. I love that How quickly I get answers to questions around here.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    You know what? I'm blown away by these books. I mean, what is the deal? This material is amazing and not dated in the slightest. It could be used in any Catholic parish right now. It seems to me that with this kind of material readily available, there ought to be a major effort at rescuing - and that this is more important than anything else. One has to wonder why so much effort is put into writing and publishing new material that is not nearly as good. Any guesses?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    I have said for 40+ years, that when the Church adopted vernacular liturgies, it should have looked to the Anglicans for models. Instead, the U.S. Church had to reinvent the wheel, and it was reinvented incompetently. The new Catholic wheel has 4 sides. The material in those books is excellent and can be used. Of course, the evil trio of "Catholic" publishers can't make much money from it.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    A word of caution: Anglican chant is easy to do badly, whereas psalm tones can be done well with a little effort. That's not a criticism of Anglican chant as such - I love it dearly - but if I had a measure of Scotch for every occasion on which I've heard an choir do it poorly my liver would be in serious trouble. It needs a choir with a sense of the performance style, an understanding of the typographic conventions and the ability to read the parts while flicking eye between verses and music - all this comfortably enough to stop worrying and just get 'in the groove'. If this isn't yet your choir, then a plan to get there will be needed, e.g. let the choir hear recordings, plenty of practice and performance once a month, moving to weekly only when ready.

    Please don't let any of that put you off - you and your choir will find the effort worthwhile.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    Ian, it's really not that difficult. The entire congregation at Our Lady of Walsingham (at least when I was there - MJO what's happening now?) sang it quite easily. They were given the chant, printed above the text to be sung, with markings (pointing) in the text. We used singe and double regularly - and they even really enjoyed the quadruple chant by Oakley!

    How many favorite hymns are in 10,10,10,10 meter? There are quite a few. A "single chant", with reciting note + 3 note cadence, plus reciting note + 5 note cadence = one, single phrase of one of those hymns. The beauty of the "system" is that you can sing as many notes as you like on each and every note of the chant, or even stretch a syllable over 2 or 3 notes for an occasional effect, or to make a very short verse work.

    Yes. It takes some getting used to for the singers. It also takes practice to accompany and/or conduct. Part of the challenge is to be consistent in your style of pointing the texts. If some one has the bright idea of publishing a book of Psalms with all the pointing included, it will not work equally well in every parish.

    Yes. A course at Colloquium would be great. I would be willing to help.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    The entire congregation? That's so fantastic, isn't it? When one thinks of the missed opportunities after V2, it just boggles the mind.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    Yes, Jeffrey. And it wasn't just the congregation singing the melody - many picked harmony parts instead. And they could even sing it without any pointing! I often didn't get the worship completed till late Saturday night, and occasionally forgot to insert the pointing marks into the '28 Prayerbook Psalter text. I would notice the omission during the Lesson, and quickly mark up my copy. Between my style of accompanying, and my consistency in pointing, it didn't sound any different from a Sunday when the whole congregation had the pointing included! I'm sure others who have been using Gregorian Psalm tones all their lives have had similar experiences.
  • At the catholic church dedication we did, we sang all the correct psalms called for, so to involve the people, we used quite a few anglican chants.

    What is required is a director who believes in them and can convey the speaking/singing of the text to the choir in a way that makes them confident.

    They are an excellent prelude to singing polyphony for a choir, since they repeat and repeat and lock in part singing ability very fast.

    You can use the same tune over and over again, no need to switch each week....because of the pointing.
  • I've just sent off A Beginner's Guide to Singing Gregorian Chant Notation, Rhythm and Solfeggio to the printer. [My earlier book on notation is the first chapter in this one]

    So I will begin a beginner's guide to AC now! Cool!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    So I will begin a beginner's guide to AC now! Cool!

  • Anglican Chant is difficult to do well; even by a well rehearsed and trained choir. Why re-invent the wheel Noel, there are articles, directions and guidelines already out there on "HOW TO" concerning Anglican Chant. Check out 1) Dr. John Scott's publication of the St. Paul's Cathedral Psalter of Anglican Chant, 2) RSCM - Royal School of Church Music publications, 3) Google Books has a lot of Anglican Service and Chant books for download and they have a ton of directions in them. Ultimately, its a "hands on" - listening and "passed on" artform.

    * NB - The organ accompaniment should be extremely subdued and soft, giving the impression of it being unaccompanied.

    Listen to YouTube and CD's of King College and St. John's Cambridge Choirs as well as St. Thomas Men and Boy Choir in NYC (you can hear them singing online thru their website).
  • The Parish Psalter with Chants by Sidney Nicholson is one of the the standard Anglican musical psalters. It is still available from the RSCM or GIA. The introduction explains everything about singing Anglican Chants and the pointing.

    Most good Anglican musicians learn the chant by heart so that they can play a psalm by just following the words, and not have to try to look up and down from the words to the music all the time. When I was a student, my organ professor made me play over the chants for Evensong until I could play them with my eyes closed as a rehearsal! The organist must be careful not to impede the tempo, which is usually pretty brisk. Some of those psalm verses are long, and you do not want your singers to run out of breath and all breath in different places. Singing Anglican Chant correctly is the ultimate in "keeping together."
    The organ accompaniment does not have to be subdued and soft. The accompaniment and registration should match the mood of the words. This is a big difference from accompanying Gregorian chant. If the mood of the psalm is joyful; sound joyful. Don't forget to change registration as you go along. Sometimes the mood of the psalm changes ( O everything is terrible --- but God is good to me!) Listening to a few psalms sung by one of the choirs quoted in previous posts will verify that.
    It is very rarely possible to produce good results by winging it. This is worship and should be prepared carefully - oh sorry, I begin to sound like I am talking to my choir - who incidentally do sing Anglican chant Evensong every Wednesday evening. They enjoy it, and the congregation sing along too!
  • Probably the ultimate in singing Anglican Chants


    The British weather forecast sung to Anglican Chants by the Master Singers.
  • Francis let me correct my self by saying you are correct! But what I meant to say is that the organ accompaniment should never over power the choir. In [general] it should be subdued and soft. Too many organist, especially in the states play accompaniments too loudly.
  • Abbot,

    I believe that "Anglican Chant is difficult to do well; even by a well rehearsed and trained choir." is incorrect. Gregorian chant is much, much more difficult, especially in non-Latin speaking countries. ;<) (it's over 100 degrees and spending more than an hour giving a tour of a horse farm this afternoon may have fried my brain, but the owner's are happy because I may have sold a couple of horses for them - yes, I am still out of musica; work!)<br />

    "Why re-invent the wheel Noel, there are articles, directions and guidelines already out there on "HOW TO" concerning Anglican Chant. Check out 1) Dr. John Scott's publication of the St. Paul's Cathedral Psalter of Anglican Chant, 2) RSCM - Royal School of Church Music publications, 3) Google Books has a lot of Anglican Service and Chant books for download and they have a ton of directions in them. Ultimately, its a "hands on" - listening and "passed on" artform"

    I have many of these, and think that Dr. John Scott's Psalter is a masterpiece of work and that all of these sources are excellent. But none of them start out and explain why the wheel is...round.

    Dr. Scott's book is 352 pages.

    He spends a grand total of 1.25 pages explaining how to sing anglican chant.

    0.003551136363636 percent of the book spent in explainning how to sing from the book seems to be bit lopsided.

    Like Jeffrey [buckaroo banzai's] Ostrowski's exposure of white space notes in Vatican chant, I think that there are things that are not written about merely to keep others from being able to do them....

    I agree that organ accompaniment can be very effective with Anglican Chant, but also feel that it should be played to emphasize teh text through artful stop changes and use of expression...and we all agree that is should never cover up the sung voices!
  • "Sometimes the mood of the psalm changes ( O everything is terrible --- but God is good to me!)"

    This was the final exam for my high school liturgical music class this year, an explanation of the 5 ways that psalms "rhyme" and 5 psalms for them to identify the rhyme of using the rules.

    Great stuff. Knowing the rhyme patterns makes interpreting them a bit easier.
  • I believe I said that Anglican Chant was very difficult to do well in and of itself! I would never compare Anglican Chant to Gregorian Chant - the two are VERY different. Unison singing, like Gregorian Chant, is of course generally more difficult than singing in four parts for obvious reasons. Since I have taught and written both for many decades, I speak from not only experience but from comments and concensus made by many great church musicians, musical directors, scholars and choral experts. Each kind of chant has its own and unique set of difficulties.

    I look forward with eagerness, to read any great scholarly work on this subject!

    - Rev. Dr. Jonathan Coel
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    How often is AC done unaccompanied?
    Unaccompanied singing is one of my great loves, and I try to encourage it with my choir and congregation whenever possible.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    Does anyone know any good Anglican / Anglo-Catholic / Anglican Use Catholic / High Church Episcopalian churches with excellent music programs in or near Ft. Worth, TX.

    Especially anyone doing choral evensong or who has a high-church Mass sometime other than Sunday morning.
  • Coming from me, it will hardly be a great scholarly work, but just one person's digging into the basics and writing about it!

    It definitely is much easier to learn by singing it under someone who knows what they are doing.
  • By the way, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Coel, welcome to the forum!
  • Thank you for the welcome. I am afraid to say though, that I shan't be able to comment much herein. I spend a great deal of my time with another CMAA member (Ken of Sarum), and others, in getting off the ground floor a new autonomous monastic institution dedicated to the Sarum Use and great traditional sacred music as sung by men and eventually boys. Our goals are lofty and visionary but we hope for a proper monastery and a choral school for the training of boys, seminarians and clergy in sacred music and singing. Financially, God is exceeding our expectations abundantly and we are so grateful! Gregorian AND Anglican Chant will of course be a steady staple of our diet in the near future.

    Please pray for us as we simple few (5 so far), begin our calling to God's glory.
  • Ken's been quiet and this explains why!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    What you are doing is wonderful! May God grant you every possible blessing and success.
  • Thanks! It all has been a vision and calling of Ken. He sincerely believes that God has called him to this mission and we here wholeheartedly concurred. He is and has been often misunderstood and ill treated by so many but isn't that the way of so many of God's special children. Once you meet him, it is so very obvious that the Holy Spirit is upon him and working through him. In my very long life, I have never known anyone as kind, thoughtful and caring in the best of the Christian sense.

    He is disabled, often in great pain and confined most of his time to his room, and yet we all in residence here, hear him every morning at 4am praying the rosary, at 12 noon and prayer throughout the day in addition to composing hymns and music. He wanted and loved so much to be a blessing to this Forum and always spoke so well of the work of the CMAA. When we ask why he doesn't continue reading the Forum and seeing if he can help others here, he just smiles and nods. His day ends every midnight with the rosary again! Even though he has been poorly mistreated much in his life, he almost never mentions it to anyone. I had to find out though others.

    We are truly so tremendously blessed to know him and be a part of this vision God has given him.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,072
    Adam, I'd suggest making a contact with Dr. Gerre Hancock of UT-Austin (formerly of St. Thomas Church, 5th Ave.) It would be a good opportunity to take a trip south to a nice city close by, and Dr. Hancock is very gracious. His style of pointing and chanting is somewhat different than most British directors, but I think it is just as fine and is very natural. I hope I can speak to you from experience, as I did my masters' study there with the Hancocks. Your time would not be wasted.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    A comment on another thread:
    However, did you hear us rehearsing it before Mass? It took the choir 15 minutes to get the rhythms in the verses right. We had it right at rehearsal earlier in the week, but they couldn't get it this morning. Regrettably, I simply don't have the time to teach jazz rhythm to my rhythmically challenged choir right before Mass. We are working on improving in that area."

    This reminds me of something I've been meaning to share.

    Along with my High Church agenda at the Episcopal parish where I serve, I have been specifically asked (by Vestry, clergy, and congregation) to incorporate contemporary music. (They say, "Praise Music," but they mostly mean 1970s folk mass). Most of you know I have no problem with having some of this at Liturgy, and especially no problem with it in a non-RC setting (free of Roman liturgical law).
    So I've done a few things which I thought would work well.
    And yeah, people like 'em alright.

    But here's the (practical) problem:
    1. They're damned hard.
    I did very a famous and very popular Dan Schutte piece few weeks ago. (I won't tell you which one, because I don't want this to degenerate into that conversation).
    But I bet you all know what happened: They couldn't friggin' sing the not-really-syncopation dotted rhythms. It took the bulk of our rehearsal time, and it never turned out very well. The verses (each with slightly different syllabification) were so impossible to get right and/or together that we had to sing them as solos.
    2. No one sang it
    Now, I know, in an average RC parish in the US, this song would likely be known already. But it wasn't it's newness that caused a problem. I've introduced several hymns (FINLANDIA; a D. Haas text set to LOCH LOMOND; "O God you search me and you know me.") I've also introduced some early American stuff (Wondrous Love) and some 19th cent. Gospel (Hear, O Israel... 4part chorale plus 2-part counterpoint) with NO PROBLEM, and all with very decent congregational response. The only thing that hasn't worked: the "Pop/Folk Catholic" stuff.
    3. Older-Middle-aged people (who are the ones who primarily ask for this style) look funny singing it, and their voices are completely unsuited for it. It sounds good (I think), and looks reasonable, when my brother (30) and I (28) sing it. It's inappropriately comic coming from a group of 65 year old women.

    Verdict (and big lesson for me, who really likes a lot of that music):
    It is very, very difficult to sing. Harder than hymns. Harder than chant. Harder than High Church choral music. Harder than Kevin Allen- and he formats to avoid page turns, for goodness sakes.
    Ergo: There needs to be a really, really good reason for me to program that music.
    I still like it. It will remain on iPod rotation. But it's getting to be a tinier and tinier part of my 6-month spreadsheet.
  • Donnaswan
    Posts: 585
    For some gorgeous recordings of Anglican Chant done by mature choir under the tutelage of Dr. Berry, get onto the Gloria Dei recordings-Paraclete Press. The organ accs are wonderful- original,but not intrusive
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    Adam, exactly!
    And I as well "like" some of the music you're talking about, though considerably less of it than you, I think.
    And, very rarely, I think some is even suitable for liturgy.

    But it was never a good use of my time, my voice, my patience with the choir, my budget for octavos....

    Resources are limited.
    That stuff wastes our resources.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Lots of this material strikes me as originating in youth retreat environments where emotions run high and everyone is hooked on the great singer leading the services. I've never been to a Catholic one but I went to Baptists ones. The singer of the day was there and banging on the piano and singing his thing. Later everyone would imitate him - it was the only way to make these otherwise unsingable songs work. It's the same with Elton John songs. If you hear them, you can imitate them but if you are just looking at the sheet music, it looks crazy and impossible. In any case, the people at the event like the music but it makes no sense to those who weren't there. I supposed the G&P material made the transition out of youth retreats into the mainstream but not without a lot of help from relentless workshops and demonstrations around the country. So much of this music is tied to a vocal groove and the personal touches of the performer.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    ...and if you think the G&P is hard to sing- you should check out OCP's Spirit and Song. That is, perhaps, the least useful hymnal I have ever encountered.

    And this goes back to my constant refrain about useful vs. non-useful ways to "advance the CMAA agenda." The "it's so trite, it's so stupid, it's to ugly, it's so inappropriate" refrain isn't the argument that is going to win over anyone who likes/loves/enjoys/uses this music. I'm sympathetic to CMAA goals, and that kind of talk makes me want to unsubscribe and never talk to any of you again.

    But- just on the criteria of:
    1) Congregational singing (% participating, volume, enthusiasm)
    2) Ease of preparation (how long did it take to rehearse)
    3) Authentic performance practice (how faithful to the intended style of the piece itself is this performance)

    Compare, say:
    http://vimeo.com/12436232 (CCWatershed; Christus Vincit)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9iZcSOujcA (St. Slapyhapy Catholic Community; Blest Be the Lord)

    Putting aside whether "Blest Be" is appropriate for Mass (or for, OMG, Ash Wednesday!)- they AREN'T FREAKING SINGING IT CORRECTLY! And they don't even look that happy about it. And I bet it took them A LONG TIME to rehearse it, just to get it to that level. And I bet there were arguments during rehearsal, as the retired music teacher in the Soprano section (there's always one) tried to correct another section's rhythm on the verses- except she was just as wrong about it as the other section. Then I bet the young guy in the tenor section, the only one who actually knows how to read the syncopation correctly (that's usually me, BTW) spend most of the rehearsal muttering under his breath because the choir director won't take the time to teach anyone how to count or subdivide. Then (I bet) in a sudden, over whelming surge of the Holy Spirit, the entire congregation started clapping on beats 1 and 3.

    CMAA argument against Pop Church Music: It isn't good church music.
    Adam Wood argument: It isn't good pop music, either.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,021
    What most people can't realize, starting with music editors these days, is that anticipated or hesitated notes just off their proper (i.e. written) beats is part of a solo performer's personal STYLE. There is no reason for congregations to emulate any of those styles. Take either popular example - "Amazing Grace" or "Morning Has Broken" - and look at the printed music while you listen to the pop music versions. That's the difference! Now, using reverse technology, take all those printed off-beat notes, and sing them on the nearest, more reasonable beat. Voila! You've just taken a huge step towards making that song singable by a gathering. That doesn't mean that you've dealt with any other flaws in the song, or made it any more appropriate for use at the Sacred Liturgy!
  • "And this goes back to my constant refrain about useful vs. non-useful ways to "advance the CMAA agenda." The "it's so trite, it's so stupid, it's to ugly, it's so inappropriate" refrain isn't the argument that is going to win over anyone who likes/loves/enjoys/uses this music. I'm sympathetic to CMAA goals, and that kind of talk makes me want to unsubscribe and never talk to any of you again."

    Adam, I hope I'm not mis-reading your intent again.
    You might benefit by knowing thay many CMAA folk still have to labor in greener, younger vineyards complete w/ guitars (myself among them), and I've never heard them utter any derision over the last 3 colloquia. Because I'm restricted to one finger typing, I've not posted the 2nd article which will detail my methods for judging worthiness of newly minted tunes that still and yet push towards the Mahrt paradigm. You, Jessica in Lincoln NB, and the kids
    I see in the coolloquia (I'm leaving that typo in!) are our bright future. Malcontents will be with us always. Stay churchy.
  • marymezzomarymezzo
    Posts: 236

    I think the word "pop" is key to this discussion.

    If the style of the music is "pop," how can it possibly be suitable for Mass?

    Some pop music is gorgeous, well-written, etc. . . . but if the style is so secular that you could listen to the music (without hearing the words) and not know whether it's sacred music, it isn't.

    It's not the modernity of the music that's objectionable. Pop is inherently secular . . . as is opera as is jazz as are Broadway tunes (e.g., "Let There Be Peace on Earth"). Those styles evoke associations in the listener that make them unsuitable for the temple.
  • gregpgregp
    Posts: 632
    "Cooloquia" - I love it!
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    Those styles evoke associations in the listener that make them unsuitable for the temple.

    Quite, Mary. Good liturgical music doesn't come from left field. It is composed within the traditions of liturgical music that have developed with the Liturgy itself, and so is in tune with the ethos of the Liturgy. As the Council Fathers put it, "The musical tradition of the Church is of inestimable value". It is consciously "sacred song", which "forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn Liturgy" (SC 112). That's not to say there isn't room for a range of approaches, from Guido to Messiaen, but the best is always conscious of that tradition of inestimable value, and doesn't just impose itself and its extra-liturgical character on us.

    Incidentally, Adam, to get back to the thread topic: that's how good Anglican music works, too. The Communion has some distinct musical traditions which sit well with the Book of Common Prayer, its cousins and children. We admire those who are true to them, and scratch our heads when others import secular music, wondering why on earth they bother. When I come across that kind of thing, the word 'alienation' comes to mind.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I would not consider the vast majority of Messiaen's music suitable for the liturgy. He didn't even perform most of his published music at his own parish. To my knowledge, he believed chant should have pride of place and wrote mostly throwaway service music (or improvisations and what have you).
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    I didn't actually post the "Dan Schutte with the Episcopalians" story to start a conversation about stylistic appropriateness. I have no real desire to convince anyone here that contemporary music is good for Liturgy.
    (The joke about teaching a pig to sing? In this instance it would be like trying to teach Maria Callas to sniff for truffles... )

    Mostly I posted it because I thought it was instructive and helpful- another selling point to get parish MDs "on-board" with chant and polyphony:
    I think (along with several other problems) one of the barriers to Traditional Sacred Music is that it is perceived as difficult, whereas David Haas and Dan Schutte are easy. My own experience tells me the exact opposite is true. I've done way more pop/folk/rock/broadway in my life than I have chant, polyphony and sacred choral. And, as a choir director, I find the Traditional stuff SO MUCH EASIER to sing (not to mention easier to pick out and often free of copyright restrictions... and formatted to avoid page turns!).

    So I imagine that Even, lets say, an average parish MD who has no intention of discarding CCM could be moved (gradually) towards a better way: What if she replaced the Offertory and Communion songs with Proper chants (easy), did a metrical hymn for a Processional (easy- and there's a great collection of metrical settings of Proper Introits available), had three "ringers" practice some Kevin Allen motets to fill time during communion (they come with practice videos!), and switched to a chanted English ordinary with no accomp. She could cut down the budget. She could cut down rehearsal time. And if she wanted to do a rousing rendition of Blest Be the Lord (or whatever) for a Recessional, they'd have all that leftover time to get the rhythms right, and enough extra money to buy a set of sweet conga drums.

    Additionally/Eventually (and this is my dream for contemporary Catholic music) if parishes are only doing one or two of those songs a week (and maybe none some weeks), they will only choose the best of them. Traditional Sacred Music can edge out the schlock (there is a lot- I admit)) and the stuff that sensibly fits, that reflects appropriate theology, that is singable and good, etc etc will be left.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757

    Let me say three words: O Sacrum Convivium. That he didn't write more of the kind was because French churches, for some odd socio-cultural reason, didn't do much in the way of choral liturgical music for quite a long time (though they did start to pipe it through their PA systems in the second half of the 20th century). Perhaps their organists compensate.