Solos a cantor should know
  • OK, this one is purely motivated by selfish concern, but it is asked so it gets found on Google.

    You are shopping yourself around as a cantor. You get a call to come in because someone is sick. You don't know the Church. You have a folder with two copies of ten solos you can sing at Offertory or whenever necessary. They are...?
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • I should add, please give an indication of their difficulty. I myself have taken lessons with a longtime voice teacher at CUA and can sightread Brahms lieder. I am about to undertake a thorough study of Die Schoene Mullerin. But not all singers can do that, and not all organists can do that. So just an indication of how hard they are.

    I have an eye to both being employable AND to helping push every parish I go to in the direction of more sacred music styles--so things that practically a typical MD might expect, no matter what his musical inclinations, and something maybe a little more "our way."

  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Messiah, Elijah - All arias appropriate to your range
    Schubert - Ave Maria in Bb
    "The Lord's Prayer", and many other gospel hymns (You asked for things you might NEED, not things you hope to need!)
    Any famous Mozart/Bach solos of your range
  • I come from a Baptist background and happen to love all forms of Southern Music. By gospel hymns, you mean being able to belt out Take My Hand, Precious Lord like Mahalia Jackson? Not sure I now the repertory you mean there. I would think the Lord's Prayer would be inappropriate as an Offertory.
  • The role of a cantor does not and never has included singing solos.

    Unless the job description says, "Must be able to cantor the Mass and provide special music at the offertory and communion." And they will list the name, age, length and color of the grand piano the DM rode in on.

    [seriously, are you just all baiting me so I hit 4k and stop posting?]
    [if you sing any German lieder, which I love, they will think you are singing in Latin and never invote you back.]
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    solos are not part of a cantor position
    look at the history and role of the cantor(um)
    the general lack of knowledge and ignorance of what the liturgy requires in term of sacred music is what muddies the water and perpetuates confusion
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  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Meanwhile in the real world, cantors do sing solos, so it's good to have a repertoire.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    By Gospel hymns, I mean "His Eye is on the Sparrow", or "Great is Thy Faithfulness".

    In a perfect world, I agree that the cantor should not sing solos (Actually.... I don't agree with that, but I'm not interested in arguing on it), but we aren't in a perfect world.
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  • Well, the lieder I know is all kind of pagan in sensibility, without being actually so, so I am not sure I would do it. All Brahms wanting to hold his mother's hands, or some wanderer killing himself for love. Not very Catholic.

    OK, so I stop calling myself cantor when I sing the solo. However, I have been in numerous Masses where, once the annoying communion song is done, the person who has up until that moment been cantor is magically transformed into the lady doing something until communion is over. What should I have ready?

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    i know this is a novel and foreign idea, but how about the communion proper?

    I know the GIRM is not highly regarded or followed many times, but please allow me to post a section on music during communion:

    87. In the Dioceses of the United States of America, there are four options for singing at Communion: (1) the antiphon from the Missal or the antiphon with its Psalm from the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the antiphon with Psalm from the Graduale Simplex of the liturgical time; (3) a chant from another collection of Psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) some other suitable liturgical chant (cf. no. 86) approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. This is sung either by the choir alone or by the choir or a cantor with the people.

    (wow... they seem to be heavy on the point of being approved by the bishop for 3 and 4) have the leider or "ANY famous mozart/bach solo" been approved?
  • Let's assume I am not the MD. And let's assume that, as I am on the list, Chant is in my bag of tricks. Now, please, song titles. Useful recommendations for a cantor in a real world setting who can ONLY have influence if people want him back!


  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    the simple english propers?

    they may not WANT YOU BACK and influence is highly overrated

    don't let that destroy your committment to authenticity, however.

    also, it's "choir alone", or "choir or cantor with people" - there is no mention of a solo, Kenneth!

    i used to have my choir sing the proper, but as of late that is not possible so now a cantor does that alone. second best, but REAL WORLD if you know what I mean.

    did you study liturgy at CUA or just voice?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577

    i failed to see your opening statement...

    "OK, this one is purely motivated by selfish concern"

    i take everything back
  • When I am an MD, I fully intend to abide by the GIRM faithfully and introduce as much chant as possible.

    I get the point.

    Until then, I need to get hired, and I can assure you that telling a desperate MD that it is not licit for me to sing when he wants me to is a sure way to guarantee that I will have no influence whatsoever. And nothing to show for my years of voice lessons. How many people are going to pay to hear me sing lieder?

  • Here are ten:

    Panis Angelicus, Franck;
    Mache Dich Mein Herze Rein, Bach;
    Ave Maria, Schubert;
    Ave Maria, Bach/Gounod;
    Pie Jesu, Faure;
    I Know That My Redeemer Lives, Handel;
    Come Unto Him, Handel;
    O, for the Wings of a Dove, Mendelssohn;
    If Thou Art Near, Bach;
    Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Bach

    Except for Mache Dich, these are all in "Sing Solo Sacred," OUP.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577
    I am a desperate MD and I (and others like me) would pay for you to sing the propers!
  • There is no solo literature suitable for the Roman Catholic Mass.

    If your Ordinary Form churches persist in this Protestant practice and you want do this, you have every right to, but you would be much better off working as a soloist in a Protestant church to make money.

    Some of the WORST cantors are "trained singers" who emote and sing with great beauty and as a result, the congregation sits mute to enjoy the show.

    Thanked by 1Casavant Organist
  • Choirs are better than soloists, but soloists are permitted and used. See "Sing to the Lord" # 221, USCCB 1997, which addresses weddings in particular:

    Vocalists may sing alone during the Preparation of the Gifts or after Communion, provided the music and their manner of singing does not call attention to themselves but rather assists in the contemplation of the sacred mysteries being celebrated.

    Like Kenneth, I'd be interested in seeing his question answered.
    Thanked by 1marajoy
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577

    Kenneths question was answered in the usual fashion by yourself with the atypical soloist top ten.

    Here are the comments from the congregation that I get on a regular basis:

    1 O wow what a beautiful voice you have
    2 The Panis Angelicus makes me cry
    3 You should sing the Ave Maria next time
    4 Can you sing, "on eagles wings" for my funeral?
  • You all have had your fun at my expense. Of course, the GIRM in Latin is largely silent, as the place you're quoting to me says that Chant is always licit "or whatever is approved by the national bishops," or words to that effect. So we are discussing what is in English, and the fourth option is, in practice---and would be on appeal to the Vatican--viewed as "whatever your bishop allows," which means in practice, whatever the guy who is hiring you for that Sunday wants. So we all know what it says, and we all know what actually happens, and we all know that singers have to be invited back to have any influence.

    Just kind of wondering: Parody Masses were reprobated by the Council of Trent, and yet, rather oddly, the further you got from Italy, the laxer the application. (One would normally think the Italians excelled at honoring-by-not-observing, but apparently you have to go North of the Alps to find just general disregard. ) So any Parody Mass after that was not only illicit but was composed in knowing violation of the norms. Do you insist that no one do those?

    Anyway, always glad to get a flame going on the old Musica Sacra dicussion board, and it's so EASY to do.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577

    Be assured. We are not having fun at your expense. Quite the opposite. This is a serious forum where many come for answers (sometimes they want the correct answers, and oftentimes they just want their ears tickled. [i burned all my feathers years ago, and a few bridges along with it!])

    There are a few of us on here (well seasoned, crusty Catholic musicians who have been in the trenches our entire life) who just like the CMAA arrow to shoot straight and not veer off into confused territory and get stuck in a guitar somewhere, so we take it upon ourselves to offer a bit of learning and experience so as not to add more confusion to the ranks. So I should mention that I also "allow" the singing of Mozart and Bach and Franck as solos at our parish too! (O MY! You can even find a version or two of Shubert's Ave Maria on this very forum that I have arranged and offered for free pickings!)

    The church "allows" MANY things this day and age (and she is trying to back pedal at this point in time as we all know), but PREFERS very specific things. So I always like to steer people toward what she PREFERS as opposed to what she ALLOWS. This gives me a lot of bumps and bruises, but heh! What really matters in the end?

    As a parent, I do the same thing with my kids. Most of the time what I allow gets them into trouble, or teaches them that what I prefer is for their own good, happiness and safety. Nuf said.

    Personally, I would stay away from Parody Masses and stick to the big 18 (can be found in the Parish Book of Chant (thank you Richard Rice!) if you want to sing a Mass in Latin. Is there a particular Mass you are thinking of? We would LOVE to see it!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    Regardless of what our ideals are, I welcomed Kenneth's question about what vocalists are called upon to sing in practice, since I'm in somewhat the same position: studying art songs for school and wanting to work (more) in churches.
    Thanked by 1CCooze
  • There are some lovely Gregorian chants with organ accompaniments that would be very useful, since chant does not through its makeup, draw people's attention with melodic leaps and bounds as well as predictable harmonic structure, unlike Malotte's Lord's Prayer which is specifically prohibited unless (I hope not) the celebrant sings it as a solo.

    The Adoro Te by Charles Callahan for Fr. Horn or Cello, would also be an excellent choice to be sung. We really could use a comprehensive list of organ repertoire based in chant listed by difficulty.
  • FNJ, citation for the prohibition of Malotte's Lord's Prayer?

    As I understood, it could be used, not as the "Our Father" in the mass, but as an offertory, or post-communion meditation?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,364
    Anything I'm uncomfortable with, I offer to sing as a prelude. Within reason.
  • I thought I started a firestorm when I tried to get a useful list of polyphonic masses for a small volunteer choir!! Still few names. We've gotten to a list of organ pieces (even though there is no mention of instrumental music that I can see at the point that supposedly prohibits solo singing in the GIRM---because it doesn't mention it.)

    I myself would be very uncomfortable singing the Lord's Prayer in a Mass. that we have gone through this, names???? I should add that I have a number of options--the longer chants--that someone else might not. The Cathedral of St. Matthew used to have a Hildegard specialist, and you would come in some times to hear her chanting off in the distance--very effective.

    The Black List makes interesting reading.

    Titles, composers??? Anything??

  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Kenneth, a few people, including me, have answered your question above.
  • I can tackle everything you and Chris Hebard suggested, but can all singers? More the merrier is my point. I said "few," not "none." I had to push a little to get a list of Mass settings out of people.
  • Sure, as long as you change the words.

    If you are going to have the congregation say it as communal prayer or the priest say it, then it should not appear again as fluff music. Or even serious music because you are changing the order of the Mass part as spoken by the priest.

    It's a real protestant thing that has crept in because of the glory of the high notes.

    Why not have the entire congregation and priest sing it in its proper liturgical place with piano and synth strings wailing away?

    As Francis and I both have tried to explain, there is music that belongs at mass and music that does not. That white list and black list were effective for all the right reasons.
  • You have explained it very well. That does not address the question, however, which is that it is often done, and we would like to do it as well as can be. Saying no is not an option for a working musician.

    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • FNJ, don't get me wrong, I totally agree with you in not using the Malotte, and have never used it personally at any Mass I have done, but do you have a citation prohibiting it?

    Every now and then, I get asked about it, and it would be nice to cite why it can't be used period. I realize that it can't be used at the part of the mass calling for the "Our Father", but are there any other specific prohibitions to it's use in mass?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410

    1. I don't consider anything that has been said in this thread as a "flame" or anything like it.

    2. Part of the problem with this thread is that several people here (myself included) find the question to be... well, weird. Outside of weddings and funerals, Catholic parishes don't tend to do a lot of Art Song. There are good reasons for this: on the progressive liturgics side is the issue of active participation; on the traditional side the issue of the inappropriateness of operatic/performance literature at liturgy. The handful of "typical" Catholic solo Art Songs are more or less leftover from the era prior to the liturgical reforms, and represent a way of approaching liturgy that both traditionalists and progressives decried as inauthentic. Yet, because they are still a part of a certain kind of nostalgia among many, they tend to pop up in precisely the contexts where music is selected for reasons of nostalgia and misplaced cultural memory: chiefly, weddings and funerals.

    3. The idea that there is some set list of solos that could be pulled out at a moment's notice (an Art Song repertoire) and inserted into the Mass as (what Protestants call) "special music" is not only inauthentic, but (I believe) highly unusual. Music directors either program versions of the Propers (rare, but best case scenario) or they select hymns and songs each week to correspond to the readings and theme of the day (pretty typical, advocated by most contemporary liturgists) or they just rotate through a handful of songs/hymns they already know how to sing and play (three songs about Gathering, four songs about Offering, six songs about Bread/Body, five songs of generic praise for recessionals). Those three paradigms (or, in a lot of cases, a mixture of two or more) cover the programming decisions at most US Catholic parishes. I don't know of any Music Directors who plan all the music for a Mass except the Offertory, and then ask the Cantor what he/she has in his/her briefcase.

    4. If you want to Cantor, either professionally or as a volunteer, go speak in person to the MDs of all the parishes in driving distance. They'll tell you what you can expect and what they are looking for.

    5. If you want to do the Weddings and Funerals thing, you need to have a regular Sunday morning gig at a big parish with age diversity. If people like you and your singing, they will ask you to sing. Alternatively, it helps to have a lot of cousins (I'm always hearing that "my cousin sings real well, she can do it right?").

    6. Even within the context of all of that, there is still a list of repertoire. I don't think it is required for normal Sunday cantoring, but it does come in handy for Weddings, Funerals, and similar gigs. The list has largely already been mentioned above, but here are the highlights, again:

    Ave Maria, Schubert (there was a time when EVERYONE asked for this)
    Ave Maria, Gounod/Bach
    Panis Angelicus, Franck (sung at Ted Kennedy's funeral... Lord knows why...)
    On Eagles Wings, Joncas (you WILL be asked to sing this at a funeral, I promise)
    Pie Jesu, Faure
    Pie Jesu, Lloyd Webber (yeah. someone will ask at some point.)
    Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Bach

    Beyond that, whatever vaguely religious-sounding thing from the latest "Adult Easy Listening Classical" album is likely to get requested. When I was doing this sort of thing a lot, it was Charlotte Church and Sarah Brightman CDs you had to watch out for. Before that it was Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand. Now I think it's Jackie Evancho. If they play it on PBS during Fundraising Season, someone will ask for it at a wedding or funeral.

    7. I'm sorry that you feel like your threads keep turning into "flames." I don't think that is actually the case. There is a difference between ignoring your question and pointing out that it isn't the right question to ask. I hope that this post both answers your initial question, and also provides some background as to why it is, really, a question that makes some wrong assumptions about both the realities and the ideals of Catholic music.
    Thanked by 2marajoy francis
  • I want to be a soloist at a Presbyterian church, what Gregorian chants do I need to know?

    Cantoring is being a cantor, not a soloist.

    If you really want to be hired as a cantor for weekend masses and also be hired to sing as a soloist at weddings and funerals, it's a different job that CAN be combined at weddings and funerals, but vocal solo have always been verboten at Mass since they focus the attention on a person rather the the mass.

    Think Japanese corporation vs. US.
  • Chrism
    Posts: 809
    In response to Kenneth, the In Paradisum chant is often sung as a solo at many funerals. And most soloists will know how to lead the common Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, along with one of the English variants.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,468
    Oxford has a collection of 16 solo songs called "Oxford Solo Songs : Sacred". There is a cantor at out parish who occasionally sings from it.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Well, you missed my "find this on Google" line, and I sure hope that somebody doesn't, after all this.

    I am contacting my archdiocesan MDs. That's beside the point.

    At the National Shrine, I can guarantee you, I have never heard anything like a solo. Also, Prof. Mahrt's Gregorian Mass.

    Aside from that, at every single OTHER Catholic Church I have been to has had solos somewhere. In the North Carolina parish I most frequently attended when my father was alive, the music director had a lovely voice and a beautiful spirit, and she pulled them off exactly right, if you are going to do them. So lots of opinions, but for general advice on someone facing the realities of parishes that I know, not a lot of advice. I know what the GIRM says.

    The Holy Father gets a lot of solos in his Masses, but he has no control over that--that's the national church he is visiting that makes those calls.

    I am talking ONLY about what parishes DO, and what a practically minded person who cannot reject work. There is SOME practical advice in here, but not a lot that has to do with anything that anyone in a lot of parishes will have to face.

    But, you know, that happens on this list.

  • I just listened to a Black Gospel choir from one of our parishes, and there is a difficult question---I thought it started out great, but it is hard to say that it was not a performance at the end. I am sure they do those at the Offertory, because that is what Baptists do, but I would have to check.
  • Aside from that, at every single OTHER Catholic Church I have been to has had solos somewhere. In the North Carolina parish I most frequently attended when my father was alive, the music director had a lovely voice and a beautiful spirit, and she pulled them off exactly right, if you are going to do them. So lots of opinions, but for general advice on someone facing the realities of parishes that I know, not a lot of advice. I know what the GIRM says.

    I am talking ONLY about what parishes DO, and what a practically minded person who cannot reject work. There is SOME practical advice in here, but not a lot that has to do with anything that anyone in a lot of parishes will have to face.

    But, you know, that happens on this list.

    Sorry we wasted your time. How can anyone advise you on the realities of parishes you know when you tell us that they totally ignore the GIRM and common practice? How can someone pull off doing something absolutely right that goes against the GIRM and traditional practice in the Cartholic church?

    What does a choir singing at the offertory "like the Baptists do" have to do with the catholic church?

    Black baptist choirs sing throughout the service. The offertory takes time since it can be the African-American tradition to count the offering and then ask for more, passing the basket around, to the point that the first collection is called the "Penny" collection.

    Another conversation to bow out of.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Kenneth, for what it's worth, I have had virtually the opposite experience in my Mass attendance. I have never heard music at Mass other than what Adam W. described in #3 above--ever. Not one solo. That is why I am having trouble getting on the same page here and don't have any practical advice.

    I don't want to speak for Adam, but I take his post to be a friendly reminder that we should be careful about treating one's own experience as normative when in fact it might be unusual. And how would we know if we didn't ask first, instead of assuming that everyone else is right there with us?

    Maybe 99% of parishes do feature soloists, and the 1% I've attended don't for some reason!
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,468
    We have solos. Lots of them. There are masses with only cantor leading the congregation at our parish. At these masses the cantor sings a "solo". I think the cantors equate it to what a choir would do when they sing a motet/anthem. I only attend these Masses in the summer when our choir does not sing. I don't know what they sing, but I could ask if you like, Kenneth. I think the cantor sang "All We Like Sheep" from the Messiah on Sunday. Another time it was Schubert's Ave Maria. Sometimes it is a hymn like "The Old Rugged Cross" at a funeral or something from Gather.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,410
    I would add- I have heard (and, unfortunately) sung solos at regular Sunday Mass as a "Cantor," but never in the Art Song vein. Just something out of the hymnal or whatever, chosen to "fit the readings" or some such.
    Thanked by 2canadash francis
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    Yes, Adam. That's what I meant as well. I've heard a cantor sing songs out of the hymnal, but never any art songs (or even selections from cantatas, oratorios, etc.).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,279
    We tend to have more solos during summer when the choir is unofficially on vacation. There are events that preceded my eleven years as music director/organist at the parish, when certain pieces are sung each year. It would create too many problems and too much general ill-will to change these. A fight not worth fighting, it seems to me.
    Thanked by 3DougS Gavin Adam Wood
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,713
    If we're collecting experiences about how commonly we hear solo songs at Masses (excluding those whose music we direct), maybe an informal poll would be in order. Does anyone know how to set one up? My experience is that solos are heard at weddings, funerals, and a few Sundays a year (maybe 6-8).
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577

    bout the same here
  • Gavin's suggestion early on, of hymns, was useful because I am leery-as I said--of anything art-songy. If I am forbidden my preferred choice--a longer chant, something by Hildegard, something like that--then that is a good option for non-dramatic music.

    I now REALLY have a hard time figuring out what all the vituperation was about if even someone who spoke so, um, strongly to me now say that he hears several solos a year. How is a free-lance cantor supposed to tell an MD that he refuses to do that? The MD will simply pick someone who will.

    MOST of my experience hearing solos would be between Epihpany and Lent and in July and August, when most choirs takes breaks, but that is ALSO when someone who is starting out as a cantor is needed.

    The GIRM was more or less sneaked into the Missal without much fanfare. Yes, the new English norms (written in English ,not translated) used the word "chant." It will be decades before the "fourth option" is no long taken as "whatever." Everyone except one very young poster will probably be in a better place by then--and then Ben will be the leader that carried on the work of the CMAA.

    As for the not-very -kindly-worded "suggestions" that I do not understand the GIRM, please see this discussion I posted last year and never finished.

    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,577

    Nothing on this thread is unkind. Everyone speaks their opinion and some of the opinion contains good and bad, relatively speaking. What did you take as not kind?

    If you are concerned about getting in good with the MD, ask the MD what s/he would like to have sung as a solo. We would be interested to hear your report. Some prefer what's in the GIRM, and other's just do as they please.
  • Kenneth, is that the blacklist as in "say the black..."? Uh-oh, I read "The musical value of the religious compositions of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Rossini and von Weber does not enter into the question."

    Anyway, thanks for the tip on Verdi's Jesu Dei vivi aka "Praise Him, O praise and glorify". ;-)
  • >"he should know none, and do none. Cantors don't sing 'solos'."

    Are we getting a little carried away? In the first place, Kenneth doesnt specify that he's specifically out to corrupt Catholic churches. Despite being infected by Richard Crocker's enthusiasm in college, I might never have discovered chant as a living tradition without along the way singing Delius for Unitarians, Brahms for Christian Scientists, Handel for Methodists, Byrd for Anglicans and, penultimately, Bach for Lutherans. I would submit that Catholic churches are not necessarily better served by a know-nothing.

    As to Catholic liturgy itself, I don't believe we do it a favor by ruling out Monteverdi, Grandi, or the rest of the treasury of solo motets without thoughtful consideration. At St. David's we regularly use (besides funeral/wedding/15 años fare) Aus liebe will mein Heiland sterben or Komm, süsser Kreutz (as VdG or traverso are available) for Passion Sunday or Good Friday, G. Jeffries Ps. 103 for the Easter Vigil, "I know that my Redeemer liveth" and "The trumpet shall sound" for the early non-choral Easter Mass, and several of Purcell's verse anthems during OT. When there is no choir I would think it ideal to have more than "6-8" solos per year; I might even prefer a steady diet of Bach arias to Palestrina motets. The other kind of solo, in which a cantor pretends to lead a silent congregation in a hymn, gives me the willies and really does deserve to be replaced.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen CCooze
  • 10 solos I use frequently:

    Panis angelicus - Franck
    Ave Maria - Schubert
    Salve Regina - Faure
    Ave verum corpus - Mozart (just sing the soprano part)
    Jesu the very thought of Thee - S.S. Wesley
    Jesus, Fount of Consolation - J.S. Bach
    O Savior Sweet - J.S. Bach
    My Shepherd will supply my need - Virgil Thompson
    Ave verum corpus - Gounod (there are 3 or 4 he wrote)
    Hear my cry O God - Franck

    The benefit to these ten pieces is that they are not showy musically - no show-off high notes and no fancy melismas. They are reverent and devotional. Stuff like the Gounod Ave Maria, Messiah or Elijah arias I do try to stay away from during the mass because they are written in a showy, concert hall style. The Malotte Lord's Prayer I consider too sentimental for mass, but people do love it.

    Regarding the purpose of cantors and soloists in general, I have never been to a non-choir mass that had music and did not have a cantor. And coming from a protestant background, I have never understood why a cantor was necessary. The Anglican, Lutheran, and Presbyterian backgrounds don't find it necessary to have someone "leading" congregational singing. If Catholics would just sing, the cantor would be unnecessary, unless they were singing the psalm, propers, or a motet. Which is how I think of the solos I have listed above.

    Any cantor is singing a solo, be it a piece from the western art music tradition, or Eagles wings. Whenever you have someone singing alone, they are singing a solo. If we don't want solos, we need to get rid of cantors altogether.
    I say this as someone who has had a lot of work as a cantor. I personally would rather hear good solo singing from a cantor at mass, than a choir trying to fumble their way through the Liber Usualis. I think musical excellence in the former is more realistic for most of our parishes.
    Thanked by 2Gavin CCooze