St. James Music Press
  • Heath
    Posts: 931
    I ordered something from St. James Music Press ( for the first time today. I love the approach that they take; purchase a big book of new compositions for about 50 bucks, and then copy and use as much as you want! If you use 2-3 pieces in the book, you already have made a worthy investment (as opposed to the $2.10/octavo that I paid to Paraclete for an Ascension motet; 60 bucks for a piece that I won't use again for a loooong time).

    One caveat: I've noticed that a lot of their music doesn't feel like a good fit for a Catholic liturgy. Don't get me wrong; a lot of good composers writing good music in a "traditional" style . . . it just seems very suited to mainline Protestant churches. Anyway, I shared this concern with SJMP, requesting settings of the Propers, etc., and I received a prompt response from Mark Schweizer (one of the big-wigs over there):

    Hi Heath -
    Thanks for your note. Catholic choirs have spurned us since the beginning I'm afraid. Too much David Haas. We sell to a few Catholic parishes that have good choirs, but the Protestants are our base. Still - we have some Proper texts (in Latin) out there as well as chant based anthems. Our next volume of the Sewanee Composer's project contains Vexilla Regis, O Bone Jesu, and a couple more.
    Last year's volume has a wonderful setting of the Reproaches by Roland Martin.
    Anyway, thanks for your suggestion, and I'll keep you in mind as I'm looking over things for the future.


    May I suggest perusing their website, checking out their wares, and maybe supporting this company? I think that, with some more comments from people of our ilk, they may be open to moving a "Catholic" direction with some of their compositions.

    Any testimonials out there in regards to their music or the company in general?
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,927
    I have used some of their anthems. Many are based on Protestant hymns that are also in Ritual Song, so they are, I suppose, semi-Catholic. If you read the Mark Schweizer liturgical mystery series, "The Alto Wore Tweed," etc., you will laugh yourself into the floor. I think it's a decent company, but they do have to produce what appeals to their base - mostly Protestant churches.
  • This is also the home of The American Gradual by Bruce Ford...with Episcopal and Roman usage.

    They also have excellent anthems, very tasteful...some of a little too Protestant, but others are gems....using Laudamus Te by Paisiello with the solo violin part and harp and cello playing continuo a week from Sunday.

    Often very high church also very useful1

    noel at
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I have found the two volume American Gradual (basically the Graduale Romanum in English, stemless five-live notation) to be very useful and well worth the 99 bucks. Again, you can make as many copies as you want. Say what you will about chant in English or five-line notation (we often have to consult the GR for some of our rhythmic choices), but I have found it very helpful. We sing the Offertory in English each week, since the translation (or alternate text) isn't found in the Missal.
  • Pieces I have used from different SJMP collections:

    Sunday by Sunday II:
    Ave verum (Weaver)
    Go forth and tell
    If God is building
    Lord, who hast formed me
    Verbum caro

    Sewanee MMVI:
    Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day
    O Jesus, joy of loving hearts
    Your hands, O Lord, in days of old
    The Birds of Bethlehem (25-minute children’s musical)

    Sing With Joy:
    Prayer for Pentecost
    Fill My Life, O Lord My God
    Three Great Kings
    Sing to the Lord a New Song
    Loving Shepherd

    Note, too, that there are many good pieces in these collections that we just didn’t use this past year for various reasons.

    Of the above pieces, I most heartily recommend the Ave verum, Lord who hast formed me, Verbum caro, Jubilate, Tomorrow Shall Be, Fill My Life, and The Birds of Bethlehem.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Fantastic music, fantastic company.
  • Yes, yes, to all of the above, especially the Gradual, which uses RSV Biblical texts.
    Beware: there's a rising tide of 'inclusive' and 'expansive' tinkerings with traditional texts in the anthem books.
    The business model is exemplary: it's a real profit-making entity, but one that doesn't seek to become part of a musical-liturgical-industrial-surversive complex. In this they are not unlike the ever-admirable work of CanticaNova.
  • "I think it's a decent company, but they do have to produce what appeals to their base - mostly Protestant churches.?

    Charles is absolutely right, but please take into consideration that this is a publisher primarily for the Episcopal musician, and for the mid to high church element there. So it is not like shopping at GIA or OCP where 98% of the music presented is for a church that abandoned its heritage and accepted secular music as a norm years ago.

    So the difficulty in sorting out what is good and bad required with music from GIAOCP does not exist when searching Saint James Music Press....instead it becomes what is appropriate for my church and what is not.

    Since we use hymns only for entrance and the hymn after mass...and an occasional offertory at an evening mass without choir, we find little use for anthems by them or anybody that are based upon hymntunes. It's nice music, but does not take us in the direction we are going at SJN.

    Now my question for the day is this: IF OCP and GIA are truly going to embrace chant....where are they? Why are they not posting to this list and being involved....

    noel at
  • I have a feeling that they monitor this site, but only as a blip on the radar to keep them informed of potential competition.
  • I can envision meetings between creative editorial people and the bean counters at GIAOCP....the creatives protesting while the bean counters argue to place their trust in Chant!
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    The music director for our archdiocesan Office of Worship did not seem to know that this organization existed. I suspect the same is true about many involved in OCP and GIA publications. However, since I sent them a review of the Colloquium, the Office of Worship has already posted links and information about next year's event to the mailing list. Sometimes it just takes one person to spread the word...