What we really need more than anything else
  • I spoke to two very different groups of musicians over the weekend. The first were like some members of this forum. They knew what the propers are. They understood that chant is the ideal. They were familiar with plainsong and its sensibility. They vaguely glimpsed the ideals. They want to improve. They are making progress toward the goal. But they are limited by their pastors, their resources, and pastoral issues concerning the people. They know what they want to do but have no real way of getting there. They must watch carefully and be extremely wise as they proceed.

    The second group was far more like what we find in the conventional parish. The members of this group knew nothing of the structure of the Roman Rite. They had never heard of propers. The word "ordinary chants" meant nothing. They had never sung anything without groovy accompaniments. They had never wrapped their mouths around Latin. They've been fed a steady diet of made-to-order mush for decades and they know of nothing else. They had no idea of their own ignorance, for they might have attended NPM for several years and consider themselves to be educated in some measure. Of course they are unsatisfied with what they are doing but have no idea that there might be something better and they aren't very keen on working hard to get it if they did know.

    And you know what? I really had nothing to offer this second group except say a bunch of stuff that had no connection with anything they knew. This group is very scared about the new translation. They fear change. The kind of change we are suggesting -- this huge leap to Gregorian chant -- is absolutely unthinkable.

    You know what both groups need? They need a resource for getting started on singing the real propers of the Church. There is Flowing Waters but I think that is probably the only thing out there and they are seasonal propers. There is Fr. Kelly but there are no offertory propers and, actually, these are too difficult for the second group. Also, it is not in print.

    So far as I know, there is not a single book out there of Sunday propers in English for the Ordinary Form that regular musicians can sing that would connect with our history and provide a bridge to chant. Am I wrong? I can't think of anything. Yes, there is the Anglican Use, and I love that resource, but the language is really far-flung for most parish environments.

    What am I missing here?

    I'm forming the impression that the single most valuable book we could have right now is a book of weekly Psalm tone propers for the ordinary form. We need an AUG for the OF with modernized language, not Missal propers but Graduale propers.

    Perhaps no one on this forum would use it. But for most parish musicians, this could be the resource that serves as the rope that allows them to crawl out of the mess they've found themselves in.

  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I agree.

    Perhaps Fr. Kelly ought to expand. Here is his fantastic resource center, for those who haven't had the pleasure:


    A story: Last week I printed out the SMP Communion from 15th ordinary, The sparrow even finds a home. My schola (young people, mostly preteen) complained that it wasn't the one they knew (3rd Lent). Which they then sang from memory.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I agree, too. Wholeheartedly. If I may indulge in quoting myself from this thread:

    [I]t seems like a transition from a rigid rubric of four hymns to incorporating propers could be made much more simply if there were singable music to assist with the switch.

    And again:

    I guess I am still puzzled as to why there aren't more musical settings of the complete RG texts in a single collection (Latin, English, or both). Are there more than 3 or 4? It seems like such an important book would create boundless musical inspiration for a new generation discovering it for the first time.

    And again, to answer Jeffrey's most important question--why?:

    Thinking out loud: the issue of translations seems like a major barrier to opening up the GR texts to other musical settings that could give the NO an entirely different but perhaps no less sacred character.

    Having an official translation would certainly help matters, though I know Jeffrey Tucker probably disagrees. Why put in the effort to compose such a huge collection if an official translation will trump your own at an indefinite (but perhaps not-too-distant) future? Adam Bartlett and I had a wonderful e-mail exchange about this very issue. There are many factors involved.
  • What Jeffrey has observed is indeed a glaring need. I am perplexed that no Catholics have done this.
    There should be a modern-language version of the Palmer-Burgess Plainchant Gradual and ditto of the AUG.
    I have been wondering for years why such did not exist.
    Of course, our Latin-only colleagues would disapprove loudly.
    As for the AUG and the Palmer-Burgess: it doesn't take a lot of ingenuity to gently modernize words or phrases that Some might consider too archaic.
    Then, there is Bruce Ford's American Gradual - what's wrong with it?

    It is a genuine pity that there are those who are in utter ignorance of their heritage. Moreso that they are put in positions of responsibility.
    A lot of important people have a lot invested in that ignorance, too!
    It has, I think, been deliberately institutionalized.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,697
    I mean, as a first step one could use Psallite... It's not ideal, and some of it is downright unattractive, but it's a step towards understanding what Propers are.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,004
    An enormous problem in a time of economic depression is that parishes will be budgeting for resources for the new translation. Because of the convenience of having Ordo, readings and music, I suspect missalette publishers are poised to gain the most during the next 3-5 years, as congregations digest the new translation until the point that it no longer seems new (I would call this the period of transition, which is much more than simply preparation and initial implementation). More prosperous parishes might consider new hardbound hymnals, but I suspect that kind of commitment might be beyond many parish's scope. However, after the period of transition has come and gone, and if economic conditions have started to ameliorate more significantly (a big if), then there is likely to be a hunger for better, more permanent resources that are more cost-effective over the long term (the problem with hard times is that capital to pay for the up-front costs of things that are more frugal in the long run is often lacking - a truth that the truly poor have long known, and sadly). It might be wise to prepare for that opportunity, rather than trying to run to get something makeshift in place within the next year - with regard to the latter, the budget decisions will be made mostly between now and the end of the year, and you need to have a product or a dependable publisher in hand. Budget season always rules.....
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 993
    The first camp to which Jeffrey spoke should have our sympathy and our support as they move through the minefield of parish music.

    The second camp? I honestly don't know why they're so entrenched in their lack of knowledge and so incurious. Most of them are products of the hermaneutic of rupture and seem firmly convinced that any move away from the status quo, whether it's sacro pop or weak translation, will cause rioting in the pews and plunge American Catholicism back into an unthinkable Dark Age.

    However, they are amenable to pressure from the pastor who writes their paychecks. Consequently, we need to win the hearts and minds of the clergy and persuade them that the parishioners (most of whom don't sing ANYTHING) won't run away if they start to nudge the music director, the choir, and the congregation toward a different approach to liturgy. Because that's what it is - a fundamentally different understanding of what goes on during the Mass. Not warm and fuzzy, not revving up the batteries for another week in the trenches of work and family, but entirely other-directed worship of God. Once they embrace that, they'll be done with the 80's as well.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,188
    I agree wholeheartedly

    Jeffrey was in my neck of the woods and had it not been for a kidney stone, I would have been there. I think the ignorance factor is there as my folks who came back from Jeffrey's talk were literally amazed that these things called propers even existed.

    What Jeffrey did this past weekend is crucial to the question. Except as mj indicated, its the clerics who need it as well as the musicians. And most of the poor presbyters in my archdiocese are the 45-60 range. Perfectly formed in the 80's sacro-pop.

    The simple choral gradual has been my savior and it has been a beginning place for my fledgling groups. But other resources would be welcome.
  • Stand by. I have a website of free English Communion Antiphons that would probably do well for this second group. It will be going up in the next couple of months.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I agree we need an edition of the propers. Agreed. No question.

    But at this particular moment when the progressive liturgists of yesteryear are blogging at their very snottiest, what I feel we need more than anything else is a brief rousing youthful Hallelujah Chorus.


    Now back to business.
  • Of course Bruce Ford's Gradual is absolutely fantastic. It is stage two, in my own view, and must go into print. We have great resources for stage 2,3,4,5, and 6. It is 1 that we are really missing.

    The translation issue at this stage just isn't crucial. Anyone hung up on that should really think again about priorities.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I wonder if stage .5 could be simply the recitation of the propers. Or even just printing them in the worship aid. The pip's who are aware of propers have usually become so through their use at daily Mass, or by reading Magnificat.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 869
    Kathy, the sung Propers are different from the said Propers, and the said Propers are in fact typically printed in the worship aid.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    "The translation issue at this stage just isn't crucial. Anyone hung up on that should really think again about priorities."

    I don't see how having a text to set isn't a big priority for a composer willing to set it.

    Edit: On the thread I linked above, another poster pointed out that the enormous amount of work of putting something like this together is a huge barrier. I agree.
  • What am I missing here?
    I'm forming the impression that the single most valuable book we could have right now is a book of weekly Psalm tone propers for the ordinary form. We need an AUG for the OF with modernized language, not Missal propers but Graduale propers.
    Perhaps no one on this forum would use it. But for most parish musicians, this could be the resource that serves as the rope that allows them to crawl out of the mess they've found themselves in.

    I know that "Psallite" has been mentioned, and the Tietze elsewhere. What those collections' settings share is an oftly hotly debated issue here-metered settings of psalmody/scripture texts. I think our last go-round about how this aligns with idealism was the thread about Respond and Acclaim.
    I remember being at two breakouts at NPM '99 offered by Msgr. Mannion (I remember Inwood and perhaps an SLJ or two were also in attendance) wherein he fleshed out his outline of the models of sacred music at worship. post Snowbird. I seem to recall that the two modalities he least regarded were "utilitarian" and "eclectic." Well, CMAA seems to have endorsed and embraced the noble simplicity (I am among those) of RR's "Simple Choral Gradual." I leave it to others whether that approach could be deemed "utilitarian." And though that genre could bear appropriation by the ensemble approach (RR said "have at it, kids," if I'm correct) the SCG will not appeal to ensembles if they're card-carrying members of the second group JT addresses. One notorious combox talking head derided SCG as not even being "music." That is the disdainful surety epitomizing what MJB artfully calls "the incurious." The likelihood that these incurious will take up Bruce Ford/Columba Kelly/Samuel Weber/PalmerBurgess/AUG is even scarcer.
    The point is: the incurious, wary amateurs will need to be presented with what will amount to new, valid hybrids of musical formulae. I'm thinking along the lines of Michael Olbash's setting of the Mass of MR3; I'm thinking of Guimont, BUT WITHOUT GIA sequestering; I'm thinking of 21st century Owen Alstott utilitarianism that is more thoroughly deliberated with more art-filled musical elements. In all cases, though, such hybrids ought to have their own inherent integrity that avoids association of the lounge, the musical stage, the arena rock concert, or a Carribean drum and dance parade, and occasionally celebrates and infuses characteristics of chant melodies and modal harmonies, even if metered.
    To that end, inasmuch as the publishers will not likely provide space for such hybrid Propers in their hardbound or pulp hymnals, I would wish they would eliminate the sections of those aides containing additional and redundant versions of the Psalter repertoire, and with the yearly hymnal/missals, replace them with a year's worth of the cream of such hybrid Propers. Do I think that's likely to happen? Well, like my boutique hymnal proposal, sure, when pigs fly.
    But we do have our own network. And our congregations will learn new Masses and come to understand their right to sing the Propers through our efforts and dissemination
  • Absolutely agreed, Jeffrey, on this very basic need. I wouldn't say that such a resource would be beyond the needs of people on this forum either, though. If anyone here is a music director in a mainstream parish it doesn't matter if they have the Graduale memorized by heart, until the parish is brought along they are stuck. So such a simple resource, I would say, is among the greatest needs right now.

    The simplicity idea, I would say, is being tackled by 4 projects right now that I know of: The St. Meinrad Gradual (Fr. Kelly, to also be a part of the Sacred Music Project), the St. Louis Gradual (Fr. Weber), the Mundelein Gradual (similar perhaps to St. Louis Gradual), and the Graduale Parvum (a Latin/English resource being produced by Laszlo Dobszay that sets Graduale antiphons to 15 different simple Gregorian melodic forumulas).

    I think that SLG and MG (if it is not absorbed by SLG) will be focusing on Missale propers, although Weber will include Offertory antiphons of his own translation from the Graduale. He detailed his plan http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/#2082533049928667169">here. Here is an excerpt:

    The Saint Louis Gradual for the new translation of the Roman Missal. This volume will contain all the chants for the Proper of the Mass. Introits and Communions will follow the official text of the new Roman Missal. The chants for the Liturgy of the Word will be taken from the U.S. version of the Lectionary for Mass as approved by the American Bishops. As you know, the Roman Missal will not contain the Offertories. These I am translating from the Graduale Romanum. Three levels of settings will be provided: more complex chants, simple settings using the traditional Gregorian psalm tones, and short, simple refrains.

    I will be assisting Fr. Kelly on the next leg of his project (St. Meinrad Gradual) that will begin with the new antiphon translations of the Missal and that will continue with Graduale propers thereafter. These will be even simpler than the current resource (particularly with the Introits) in order to be more accessible to this group that Jeffrey mentions.

    The idea being purused with the Graduale Parvum, though, is the most intriguing to me of late. The approach here is a step up from psalm tones in that it will utilize 15 melodic formulas found in the Office antiphons, yet will remain very simple. This approach solves the problem found in the sheer number of proper antiphons by setting them to familiar melodies, yet the monotony of pure psalm tone settings is also avoided. See Dobszay's essay in "The Genius of the Roman Rite" ed. Lang for more on this, including musical examples.

    I have shared with some in this thread a discovery that I made this summer that is yet to be confirmed by studying the text, but here it goes: The issue of "approved" translations is still one that is sticking with me, despite the many good arguments I have heard against them. Liturgiam Authenticam goes on and on about the importance of the liturgical text and its proper translation. With all the attention that is given to the efficacy of the liturgical texts of the Missal, I can see the propers argument, being made to "Group #2" (c.f. above), as being severely weakened if they are shown as an "alius cantus aptus" variety, not actual liturgical texts that form an integral part of the liturgy. This is the strongest argument, I think, and I see very few in this group not conceding to this idea. If people are convinced of the efficacy of the liturgical texts and see the propers as an actual part of the Mass, then I think they will be compelled to sing the propers.

    What I have been told by a most informed source is that the antiphons of the Roman Missal will correspond to the translations of the Revised Grail Psalter, in response to Liturgiam Authenticam article # 36.

    ...it is of the greatest importance that the translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for liturgical use be characterized by a certain uniformity and stability, such that in every territory there should exist only one approved translation, which will be employed in all parts of the various liturgical books.

    So the antiphon translations will match, as best as they can, the psalm translations of the RGP. This means that we can follow suit and extract needed texts from the RGP for those antiphons of the Graduale which are not contained in the Missal. This, I think, will cover most missing Graduale texts, although non-Psalmic and ecclesiastical texts will be missing. What this means is that we are able to achieve "official translation" of the Graduale propers by finding them in the forthcoming Revised Grail Psalter. The one problem to be solved, though, is when the RGP actually doesn't properly translate the antiphon (which goes to issues of the different translations of the psalms in the Latin liturgical books... e.g. Jerome's psalter, the Vulgate, the Neo Vulgate... c.f. Peter Jeffery "A Chant Scholar Reads Liturgiam Authenticam" for more info.)

    I am happy to say that Fr. Kelly is very much in favor of going this route, where, once he finishes the Missal propers he can fill in the missing Graduale propers with the texts of the RGP. This will take some time! But it seems like a very good solution for the current needs of the Church.

    I can imagine that some will not be favorable of this idea, especially because of the copyright status of the RGP, but it seems that this is very much in line with the mind of the Church and I really believe that it is the right course of action to pursue.
  • Let me ask this question (to Jeffrey, and others):

    What texts would you recommend for such a complete resource of English Graduale propers? What psalm translation for the psalm verses?

    I ask this question as a devil's advocate to see why one would not be in favor of the above proposal. If indeed such a resource does not exist someone is going to have to do it. How can you assure them that their efforts will be worthwhile and that they will create a resource that will, to a degree, endure?
  • Also, re: RGP – from the GIA website:

    "When the Vatican sent its recognitio for the Revised Grail Psalms to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, there were also 341 alterations to the text. The bishops are currently in dialogue with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments seeking clarification on the changes. As of the posting of this notice, GIA has not received the final text. Once we do, it will take a brief time to incorporate the agreed-upon changes and submit the final version to the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship in Washington, DC, for approval. At that point, it will be immediately available to all via digital means and, soon thereafter, in printed form. (For information on licensing the Revised Grail Psalms for print and use, go to licensing.) For more information on the Revised Grail Psalms visit www.conceptionabbey.org"

    Just an update on the status of the RGP. As a sidenote, I would like to hypothesize that these 341 changes to the RGP were made to help them correspond to the antiphons of the Missal. The Grey Book of antiphons sent by ICEL to the Vatican was completely rewritten, and I have verified this first hand. I think that the RGP will play a very big role in our work as we move forward. This is why it is so necessary for it to be able to be shared freely. Go get 'em Tucker!
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    I don't think people should get hung up on the Missal vs. Gradual texts. Once we accept that our parishes are on a journey towards the ideal, it's quite reasonable to use simple tone formulae to set Missal Propers at an early stage. We have a relatively new once-a-month schola that combines this with Gradual propers at the Offetory and during communion. So far the feedback has been positive. It is of benefit in a number of ways: it allows new new schola members to participate while giving cantors a chance to sing something more demanding; it connects with the congregation who are used to using the propers in their missals or mass leaflets; we have a small church, so a short introit nicely dovetails with the procession; and their's a stillness about tone-based chant that's deeply moving. Of course, the problem of copyright arises if we consider publication of Missal proper settings, as it does with the Grail psalms that we set in a similar way. The Church has shot itself in the foot over copyright, because it hinders a genuine grassroots blossoming of music publication, which is about encouraging people to sing the mass rather than building a business empire.
  • Adam, I understand your point about texts, and I'm not really willing to argue against it. It seems like a fine idea. But two things: 1) alius cantus aptus is not going anywhere and that means that there need not be any approved translation for sung propers, and 2) there is no official translation for Graduale propers in any case. Truly, this just isn't a big deal. the danger of making a big deal is that 1) you will be acting with far far far more scrupulosity than the the Church or any authority at ICEL or the USCCB, and 2) you sweep away the whole body of English chant current in use.

    Again, Adam, I am not arguing against your own choice of texts. I'm only saying that to make a big deal out of this right now is a massive distraction.

    Let's not forget, please, please, the nature of the problem and solution. The problem is that since 1965 or so, the Introit for the entire Church years has been along the lines of All Are Welcome Here, So Sing to the Mountains and Sea.

    Translations issues pale, pale, by comparison to this big issue.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I understand the need to regain the propers, but I fail to understand the merits of the comparison. The translation needed to be overhauled, too. Why the comparison?
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    "the sung Propers are different from the said Propers"

    why is this? can someone explain the reasoning to me?
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    Given that "By Flowing Waters" is seasonal and not complete, still, why isn't it more widely used?
    I don't know but suspect it's relevant to this discussion (may well have been thoroughly discussed
    elsewhere on this forum..link?)
  • BFW is complete...it is the basic propers the church put forward for parish churches, any church. The entire church year, ready to be sung, good music, great lyrics (!) and what should be the basis of every parish music program.

    It's NOT simple chant. It is chant that should be mastered on the way to singing the GR.

    It's not more widely used for one simple reason. The publishers who have seized control of the church make more money by selling bigger books. Propers change each week...lots of extra newsprint...it was, inadvertently, the Vatican's Stimulus Package that worked!

    It's also an ego thing. No one wants be seen riding a bike with training wheels, so there is this bias against BFW and GS...it makes much more sense to master them and move on, but that's a rarity.

    To do BFW you have to convince the pastor that the pulp missal should be abandoned...very, very difficult to do.
  • tdunbar
    Posts: 120
    Frogman: ok, assuming that is the case, I do not see how Jeffrey's proposal would be more likely to succeed.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    What is needed more than anything else?

    A Propers FAQ page!
    It's maddening to sort through Forum posts and half-finished conversations and blog posts that reference other blog posts in order to get answers to things like "Why are there two sets of propers?" or "Is there an official translation of the Propers?" or "How are the propers supposed to be sung?" or "How do I know which Psalm to use with this antiphon?" or "What are my options for singing the propers?" or "Will the new ICEL translations include new proper texts, too?" or "If I'm a composer and want to set Propers, what texts should/could I use?" or "I'm Anglican... Can I use the Propers?" or any of the other questions that seem to come up over and over...
  • Good idea, though those particular questions are not very frequently asked except by people like us
  • To do BFW you have to convince the pastor that the pulp missal should be abandoned...very, very difficult to do.

    FNJ, did we discuss the "merits" of overhead projection versus pulp hymnal/missal at Coll.? I ask that as I've met with the Audio/Video contractor recently and outlined various schema for the new church/building due to be consecrated next summer. You ain'ta whistlin' "Dixie" with your statement above; it is exasperating to articulate strategies regarding worship aides in huge parishes with multiple language Masses, many different musical groups and directors under one's administration, and all such demands, and then try to coherently plan options for the new building and our other three parishes with the pastor. Such decisions are not easy for a pastor to negotiate, hence the fall-back inclination.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Jeffrey, again, the texts are important, because it takes texts to write the music. Getting hung up on this or that translation is certainly not important, but actually getting the words to use is a fundamental practical question for any composer. If he/she takes them from an older publication and updates the language, that is a major project. If he/she translates them from the Latin, that is an even bigger one. Texts don't just appear out of thin air. Neither does good music, and neither does a wide distribution network acceptable to parish priests/liturgy committees. The first question many music directors would be asked, "I'm OK with considering this product--where did you get it and why should we use it specifically?"

    Can you offer more insight into the process of sitting down and making such a product? Identifying the problem is an important step, as is rejecting poor reasons not to make a concerted effort to solve it, but actually doing it--instead of just talking about it--is the most important thing.

    What specifically would the product you are looking for look like, and how would it come into being? And how is what you are looking for different from, say, Richard Rice's Simple Choral Gradual?

    Until these questions are answered, it just seems like wishful thinking--no offense.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Just a side note about BFW. One does not need to abandon hymnals or annual music issues to use this resource. The publisher offers a very generous reprint permission for the assembly. I get by with 5 copies by alternating verses between two pairs of cantors. At this point, the congregation sings mostly from memory, although for solemnities and other special events I still have to prepare a special sheet. I'm fortunate to have a "choir" at all 5 of our Masses (although at 3 of them that "choir" is another cantor and I) to sing the Offertory and Communion from the GR or in polyphony. Although it is more than "complete" (containing the entire SG as well as supplemental items), I'm not sure i could imagine doing a full Mass from BFW every week for eternity.
  • This is a great first step, and meets a huge need.
    Psalm tones are basic enough that choirs can sing them and get used to chant without stress.
    Everyone can get used to the propers together. As the choir/ schola develops and starts tackling other steps, your proposal gives them the basics they need for their comfort zones, and the minimum chanted propers needed for sung liturgies. It's a great idea!

    I agree that translations are a distraction. What's to stop someone from opening the GM and getting to work?
    And the person or people putting this together needn't be seasoned compsers. They only need good sense and a familiarity with setting and singing English to the psalm tones. Fr. Weber could be of great assistance with this project.
    Timeline- I think this could be finished before Lent and then promoted far and wide on the Internet. Bound copies
    can be sent to bishops, maybe, etc. We have an ear with Cardinal George. We can involve him, perhaps, and he could even talk about the resource and the subject of reviving sung propers at the May Bishops' mtg.
    The project isn't difficult. I foresee promotion as being the biggest challenge, but one that can be met with savvy strategy.
  • One would assume the Bishop's meeting might include Mass, if so that is the place to sing the propers and in doing so, make the presentation.

    This would have more effect than storming the NPM convention.

    If the Bishops understand, then young priests would not be shot down as quickly by their pastors.
  • The way that the new translation is going to make it into the pews is through the pulp missals OR through printed inserts into the church hardbound hymnals....no one is going to want to throw them out until they are worn out.

    CMAA could get a leg up by creating materials that would be useful.
  • DougS, I mean of course that the translation isn't the critical thing. And yes, I'm working on a plan, with others who are doing the same.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,709

    We (composers) need A text. Ian is right. Composers want permanance. This is one reason I prefer Latin. It WILL NEVER CHANGE! 

    Presently we are employing the AUG which makes learning the music a breeze, however, I don't think we can take singing the same tone for more than a year. 15 tones sounds like a good option.

    The AM approaches this subject with content that more resembles it's Gregorian counterpart, but the time demand to learn that content from week to week seems to match that of a monastic lifestyle of immersing oneself entirely in the book. I don't think that is practical with the normal parish music program, but it all depends, and group 2 would think you come from an entirely different religion.

    Changing translations and approved texts? Well, that is why the 15 psalm tone version is a good compromise. It's bridge music (utilitarian). It points toward the ideal(s) like the AG or BFW, however, BFW IMHO, is in between utilitarian and the full fledged ideal.

    Insert: real world application.

    Then you have to consider the likes and dislikes of pastor, staff, pips and how far liturgical ideals would be accepted in the present lay of the land.

    Again, the 15 tone project may be a perfect solution.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Let's think about group 2 a little more. Are psalm tones truly the best idea?

    Maybe this is a mischaracterization, but it seems to me that they are extremely averse to chant, even psalm tones. You might say, then, that musical "style" is a more important question than the introduction of propers. Group 2 might be amenable to propers if they didn't disrupt the parish's musical "identity." Decisions about the structure of Mass are determined more by the priest than by PIP, whereas everyone has an opinion about style. Get the priest on board with propers, and the people will go with it. They certainly do about all manner of UNorthodox things like lay preaching and whatever else you find at Group 2 parishes.

    Assuming that group 2 would be amenable to propers is problematic. As someone else pointed out to me, few churches want to be the "weird" one, which is almost inevitably how the one using propers would be viewed by others--chant or not. On the other hand, sometimes it is the group 2 parishes who would do anything to be "different" or "cutting edge." Propers can certainly help them achieve that--like how "different" kids in high school read Hermann Hesse instead of Jane Austen.

    If group 2 is indeed open to propers, it seems like writing memorable antiphons in a familiar non-chant idiom would be a good way to reach out to them, but no one seems interested in producing such a thing. This is in part due to the fact that chant and propers are frequently presented as a teleological double helix. This is not good, because presenting the problem as a chant problem--EVEN IN PART--rather than a Mass problem will almost undoubtedly alienate group 2. Decoupling the double helix of propers/chant allows for stylistic variety while reintroducing integrity to the texts of the Mass. The question of chant can be avoided altogether: a good thing from time to time, because groups like 2 simply will not have it.

    Would we really snub our noses at a parish that sings tonal propers that are in 4/4 or 3/4 time, have nice arch-like and singable melodies, and more or less fit the character of the texts? I suppose some would, but this would be A HUGE leap for group 2 and for the celebration of Mass.

    Don't get me wrong; I love Francis's proposal, as well as the other ideas posted above, but let's get real. Do we really see group 2 jumping on it? Maybe they wouldn't jump on my proposal either, but I am willing to bet that they would accept "pretty" music more readily than anything that resembles chant.

  • DougS, there is already a resource of familiar metrical hymns with proper texts.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    I would love to see a collection of Proper texts in a contemporary-music style. I continue to think that concerns over musical style are secondary to singing the correct texts.
    I know the hymn-settings exist already- but I'd like to see one in a style at least familiar to the majority of RC parishes in the US.
    I've thought about working on this myself and was (you guessed it) stymied by my ability to track down exactly what texts I ought to be setting.
  • Aaron
    Posts: 110
    Don't forget about the English settings of the communion antiphons and psalm verses from the Graduale Simplex (including a few from the Graduale Romanum) composed by Charles Thatcher published by WLP. I think these are also a good stepping stone. Since the antiphon is repeated after each verse, I sort of compare them to the style of Taize. Through the repetitions, one is able to meditate and reflect upon the text.
  • Doug S, I don't see group 2 as being automatically averse to chant. Many average faithful like it. The problem of musicians not liking it is often because they are unfamiliar with how to read the notation, etc. Psalm tones work here because they would make learning new music, in this case chant, mor accessible. I have worked as MD in three parishes and cantored reguarly in another ten at least and I'm speaking just from observation.

    Adam, the problem with contemporary settings is at least two-fold, as I see it. 1) By the time a choir has learned the rep, it is no longer contemporary and we find ourselves in the same dated music situation (albeit with presumably better texts) where generations are divided by style. 2) This approach does not lead us to the stated reforms of the Council as reflected in the GIRM. Psalm tones lead to singing the full Greg. chants.

    This is not a glamorous idea, or an exeptionally artistic one. It is, IMO, the most complete idea regarding how to ease chant AND propers into the average parish.

    It is a realistic Starting Point, and I'm sure it will be presented as such. The people have a right to these prayers, even I they don't sing them. I imagine most directors would use these alongside at least some hymns, at least in the beginning. Still better than the current situation.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I assume you are referring to the Tietze collection of Introits? Are there more?

    Like Adam, though, I am thinking more about newly-composed music, not familiar metrical hymns (which are not always so familiar to the Group 2, as Adam rightly points out). I don't see anything wrong with the community college approach of meeting people where they are and taking them where you want them to go. Pastoral sensitivity and all that.

    As a personal aside, I am fully in favor of incorporating standard metrical hymn tunes into the Catholic musical lexicon/treasury. Their utilitarian value knows no bounds. But OH, the outcry on the recent thread about the SSPX hymnal...Heaven forbid Catholics sing those Protestant tunes. Yet who could truly despise a beautiful rendition of a Common Meter offertory or communio set to William Billings's "Africa?" Many sensitive souls would be brought to tears, so long as the tenors carried their weight--in keeping with the style.

    (finding a music director who understands 18th-c. American choral music...priceless, but I digress)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    MA: Those are valid concerns, but I still think it would be better than theologically ambiguous texts set to John Denver chord progressions.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Mum, all points well taken. Our experiences with choirs have been a little different, and I certainly respect those differences. Perhaps my "Group 2" is a little distorted, but I think it's based in some reality.

    I frame "the problem" differently from you and Jeffrey Tucker, but that is a deeper issue than is appropriate for the forum.
  • Yes, at least for the next 20-30 years... which is why the Church sets up chant, flowering from singly sacred sources and composed as it was over several centuries, to be our best timeless option this side the temporal veil.

    As to texts, you are right.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,460
    From the Mnsgr. Wadsworth thread...

    While I would personally advocate and endorse a rediscovery of our chant tradition, I would want to stress that the recovery of the singing of the proper texts of the Missal is not necessarily to be equated solely with this one musical genre but would also potentially admit a variety of different styles. In the same way, the Church permits a variety of legitimate interpretations of the liturgical norms which result in celebrations of diverse character. The unity of the Roman Rite today is essentially a textual unity rather than a ritual uniformity – we use the same proper texts when we celebrate the liturgy

    I agree!!
  • Yes, all other things being equal, chant is still promoted as the ideal, having a primacy or pride of place.
    So, Jeffrey's idea points to this, and I think CMAA should go for it, as no other organization has.

    Work on the contemporary idea if you like, to be sure. Msgr. is correct, but as we know his personal preference also coincides with the Church's.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 678
    Re: ignorance of the propers

    "How can I know, unless someone teaches me?"

    Re: translation of the propers texts

    As long as alius cantus aptus is around, it doesn't matter what translation you use for the propers or the psalms. I could legally, though of course not validly, claim that "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" was an aptus cantus in place of "I Rejoiced When I Heard Them Say".

    Now, obviously, that's not what we want to do... but for the moment, obviously translation of the propers are not our biggest issue. :)
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    I wish we could be more careful with our use of the word "ideal." After a brief search, I did not find it in any of the most frequently cited documents concerning sacred music, save with respect to "the ideals" set forth in another document. An ideal by its very nature is absolute, and therefore doesn't "admit variety." How can it be both ways?

    Consider this: MS #50 "Other musical settings, written for one or more voices, be they taken from the traditional heritage or from new works, should be held in honor, encouraged and used as the occasion demands." Held in honor! Should be used!

    and this: SC # 113 "But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30." By no means excluded!

    For me, it is an impossible mental game to reconcile these statements with the notion of a liturgical "ideal," which--and I can't stress this enough--from Plato to Kant to Collingwood has meant a thing-in-itself.

    Maybe I'm making too much over nothing. Reading too much into things, as we scholars notoriously do. "Ideal" is just a word, right? It's not really an absolute, like I'm saying it is, right? We're just talking on the internet--no big deal, right? Just buds in the locker room. Except I personally don't want to lose sight of the fact that Jesus was God and man in a single being born into human history, not an ideal. We are Catholics, not Kantians. Reading what some have to say about chant makes me question that from time to time.

    Edit: removed final thought I rescind on further reflection.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    We remember Pope Saint Pius X especially for his famous Motu Proprio of November 22, 1903 on the reform of Sacred Music and the restoration of the Church’s plainchant. Like Pope Benedict XVI today, Pope Pius X was a musician; he was above all concerned that the faithful of the Catholic Church might pray in beauty. He recognized in Gregorian Chant the native idiom of the Roman liturgy. Gregorian chant shines with an evangelical poverty. It is chaste in its expression. It is entirely obedient to the Word of God that it clothes, carries, and delivers.


    Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have reiterated his insistence on the primacy of Gregorian Chant and the value of the traditional Roman polyphony in the liturgy of the Church. On November 22, 2003, the anniversary of Pius X’s Motu Proprio, Pope John Paul II said, “With regard to compositions of liturgical music, I make my own the general rule that St Pius X formulated in these words: 'The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.’” On June 24, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in similar terms: “An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”


    Singing Gregorian chant made possible for me and many people I know to expereince humility and true divinity of God. One can read documents merely intellectually and try to reason endlessly, or simply try and experience the teachings and the tradition of the Church. Simplicity and humility are essential than intellect to learn the true love of Christ and His sacrifice. Although there have been several stages in my faith journey, only through Gregorian chant I fell in love with the Church, her liturgy and ultimately with God, and come out of 'self-centered worship.'

    I believe there are stages to reach the ideal of sacred music in Liturgy, and those stages to be 'honored.'
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,501
    I think you might be going overboard here, Doug. I don't think anyone is saying chant-as-such is an ideal in the Kantian sense. Of course it's incarnational. It breathes, for heaven's sake. The ideal is not actually chant, but the thoroughgoing use of the chant.

    I'd go so far as to say the exclusive use of chant propers is an asymptotic ideal, inasmuch as there have always been efforts to add other things to the Mass. Some have been completely incorporated, for example the Gloria, and a certain kind of polyphony. Some have flourished only to be later discouraged, like the sequence craze, the opera craze, the folk craze (which I contend was started by Ralph Vaughan Williams), etc.
  • and this: SC # 113 "But other kinds of sacred music, especially polyphony, are by no means excluded from liturgical celebrations, so long as they accord with the spirit of the liturgical action, as laid down in Art. 30." By no means excluded!

    No, this is clear that they ARE excluded if they are not in accord with the spirit of the liturgical action.

    Liturgical action that would call for strumming 6/8 guitars and bass, let's see.

    Entrance procession. No
    Offertory procession. No
    Communion procession. No
    Communion Meditation. No
    Propers. No
    Ordinary. No

    Liturgical action that would call for strumming 4/4 guitars and bass, let's see.....