Revision of Marier's "Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Canticles"?
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,071
    @Bfranck, I do mean anything personal: what I am saying is that you could easily make your point about Ward Method without denigrating other methods.

    From your original post:
    It is amazing outside of the world of Catholicism how many music educators have absolutely no knowledge of the existence of the Ward Method. Upon close examination, it takes little time to see the great benefits from the focused and progressive direction of Justine Ward's creation in comparison to the aimless meanderings of the Kodaly system or the "tonka toys" approach to the Orff method. It is no wonder then that Theodore Marier quickly adopted this system in the training of the boys at the choir school!


    The point that I am trying to make for which "BruceL" does not seem to ascertain from my comments, St. Paul's Choir School should not be abandoning Ward Method training in favor of some other training scheme which may provide questionable results, or at the very least be less effective.

    I clearly ascertained this, but your comments against other methodologies are rather like the too-frequent "I hate mechanical action organs because they can only play Scheidt"-type comments on the forum. They are unhelpful. Any method (including Ward) will be aimless without a very competent instructor.

    I wish Ward Method were in most Catholic schools/programs/etc. in the country. The fact is, that is not the case. To an outsider looking in (I'm a convert who went through a secular school of music), the Ward Method's greatest asset (its standardization) has been its worst enemy, at least as regards its propagation.
  • pjmurray
    Posts: 9
    @PhatFlute: We used one setting of the ordinary on Easter Day, the Messe Solennelle of Jean Langlais. I can only say that "gloomy" is one listener's interpretation.
    Thanked by 2BruceL Gavin
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    I am the only on who thinks this? I like it lots but I personally don't like it for Easter. It is sung well too. Is this for choir and organ?

  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    I have read on the wikipedia that T Marier and J langlais were, friends. Which make me think back to this here. I, wanted to ask, if the Ward method ( or as I did call, WAR method because it has started arguments ! ) did produce a good result with T Marier' s choir. If the w.m. did than is it certainly trustworthy and veritable ! Thank you,
  • Indeed, Messrs. Marier and Langlais were longtime friends. Langlais' "Mass in Ancient Style" (still in publication) was written for and dedicated to Mr. Marier. When Marier was conductor of Cecilia Society of Boston chorus from 1955-1960, (Now Boston Cecilia) both Langlais' "Messe Solenelle" and "Mass in Ancient Style" were performed at Boston's Symphony Hall with Mr. Langlais at the organ. Later, a recording of both works were produced on LP in 1958 or '59.

    On an added note, I fail to understand how any movement from the Messe Solenelle is INAPPROPRIATE for Easter Sun. As a member of the men's schola at St. Paul's under Dr. Marier, we sang the "Sanctus" from the "Solenelle" (found in HPSC) for special Easter and Christ the King. Never has a more glorious 20th C. "Sanctus" ever been conceived!! The "Kyrie" ends majestically, the "Gloria" is brilliant, and the "Agnus Dei" at the end cries out in a demand for "peace" at "FF", whereas most end
    quietly by other composers. Clearly, Langlais, though blind, had an incredible ear, and nothing was left to chance in this Mass. He knew exactly what he wanted. And those who think the "Sanctus" is repetitive at the beginning, and "Langlais didn't get it right the first time, so he repeated it again", clearly have no insight to this Mass whatsoever. Mr. Marier was extremely scrupulous about the music in his hymnal, the various Mass settings for the choir (Palestrina, Vittoria, Bruckner, Peeters, Schroeder, Woollen, Heiller) and motets/anthems the choir sang at Sunday Mass. So, it's of no surprise that he felt that Langlais' "Missa Solenelle" was one of the greatest composed masses of the 20th C.
    Clearly, it's not a Mass for the organist or choir "faint of heart". Not easy to sing or accompany, and requires an "orchestral" organ of sorts, and preferably a resonant
    room. In the 1970s-80s when McNeil Robinson was M.D./organist at St. Mary the Virgin in NYC, it was reported that his choir could pull out that Mass at the drop of a hat, and give a splendid performance. Friends from my Boston days that would take the train to NYC for the weekend just to hear "Smokey Mary's" choir perform that Mass.

    Mr. Marier's friendship with both Langlais and Flor Peeters extended several decades. Theirs was a friendship, love of sacred music, and Gregorian Chant that I'd doubt will be seen again in our lifetimes.
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    Lovely story here !

    ( 1: missa solemnis or messe sollenele?, 2: Saint Mary was an episcopalian church, so it does not do mass? )

    So --- was the choir good because of the w.m. Or because of mr marier ? I here should consider training if it was the method. Or maybe ''marier training' !
    Thank you !
  • PhatFlute -- Pleased you liked the story.

    1: Langlais' mass is titled "Missa Solenelle". He wrote another in c. 1969 "Solemn Mass", but not to be confused with the "Solenelle".

    2. Yes, I'm aware that St. Mary the Virgin in NYC is an Episcopal church and celebrates Mass. And I find it gratifying that the Episcopalian music directors/organists have used Masses written by Catholic composers, otherwise we would never hear them performed in Catholic churches. Most Catholic choirs have never heard of Langlais or Peeters, but Haugen, Schutte, Haas, etc. have become "household names" in Catholic choir lofts. A sad commentary.

    The Ward Method was used exclusively by Mr. Marier and his assistants at St. Paul's. It was the foundation for teaching solfege, rhythm and chant. Through this method the boys gave concerts throughout New England, NY, NJ and DC. Also, frequent performances with the Boston Symphony/Tanglewood Festival Chorus during Ozawa's reign in those days. There was also an added "genius" in Mr. Marier's teaching, rehearsals and conducting. An extremely sensitive ear, and he was relentless with the sound, diction and musicality of the choir--both of the boys and the men's schola. He worked us until he got exactly what he wanted, be it an entire motet/anthem, a particular phrase, or even the opening chord of a work for balance, diction, volume and atmosphere. So, in short, the Ward Method, combined with Marier's sensitive ears and musicality, and his devout faith, produced the finest boy choir in New England for many a decade.
  • PhatFlute
    Posts: 219
    Wow. Again great. Really ! Where could i find a recording of marier or St Mary's ?!
  • The recording with Marier / Cecilia Society of Boston was recorded for "Cambridge Records" on LP. Occasionally, it can be found on Amazon--which is where I found mine. I'm unaware if the choir at St. Mary the Virgin in NYC ever recorded the Messe Solenelle, but it was a "staple" mass setting in their repertoire in those days (1970s.)
  • To olbash, BruceL, and others:
    In a way, I cannot properly argue address the merits of having an Englishman leading the music program at a church in Massachusetts, nor can I speak from an educated background regarding the merits of a music training regimen that's different from that of Ms. Ward. I'm not there, I don't have a music degree, and a group of choir directors are not likely to give me any creedence at all.
    As such, I'm not technically able to comment on the likely value of a hymnal that a parish might produce based on a different training regimen.

    Having said that though, I can say this: In 40 years of breathing, including having lived on 3 continents and having heard Mass offered in 6 different languages, I can say that I have not come across a hymnal for English-speaking Catholics that leaves me as impressed with the book as I have been with the Marier hymnal, better known as HPSC.

    Bear in mind, our choir director and some of our members have been keeping their eyes open for a workable replacement hymnal for well over a year. We have old copies of the HPSC from the mid-80's, we've given some tender loving care to the typical edition, we've contracted with a local printer to simply redo several copies of the choir edition, mostly because we like the content.
    In the past few years, a few of our number have purchased copies of the Adoremus Hymnal; we've considered two others as well. We haven't decided to purchase any of the three contenders for the parish because..we're not very impressed, on the whole.

    To the point about having a need to reach clear to England to find a suitable director, I think the parish perhaps did not consider looking carefully here in the US. While they may be few and far between, there are people about who're interested in providing an outstanding music program who hail from the US.
    To the point about being needlessly disparaging about non-Ward method approaches, I can only say that I have yet to hear any of any other method enjoying large success.
    If the Marier hymnal based much of it's content on the means that the Ward method offered, I'd say that it's a grave tragedy indeed that the parish would choose something else.

    I have PDF copies of Ms. Ward's training manuals, sooner or later I'll get around to perusing them more thoroughly. In the meantime, I think it interesting that our director warmly recommended them to us last year for our musical betterment.

    On the whole, I think it sad that nobody seems capable of discerning appropriate means of re-printing the 1983(?) book.
    If someone would comment that this version would not include the current translation, I would comment that the overall music regimen in HPSC probably has not been technically "current" in a good 30 years, at least in terms of the musical offerings being provided. When I joined this choir about 6 years ago, I recall thinking it quite ironic that, in spite of all the whoopla I've heard about virtues of the..uh..modern..Church, I didn't think the Church had been taking music seriously at all until I found a parish that uses a book that's..out of print.
    Seems to me that we have a strong hint that the "current" music isn't getting the job done nearly as well as many would wish to declare, so that an "older", perhaps more "pessimistic" tone in the music might well be a terrific change of pace.

    Suffice to say, I'd like to see another edition of HPSC put together and set forth.
    I'm very skeptical of the "current" music regimen for the overall Church in the English-speaking world.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,866
    Just to clarify an important point: that *parish* made no choice, as it was not given a vote or choice.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,866
    (Updating after 5-2/3 years since the prior comment). A 2020 entry by Richard Clark with some information about the revision of the Marier psalter in said hymnal:
  • This would be so awesome!