Anglican Chant Class, Monday, 7PM, Christ Church Episcopal, Chattanooga, TN
  • This coming Monday I am presenting a class on passing the AGO Service Playing exam for the local AGO chapter. There are a couple of members of this list in the area, so I wanted to pass this along if they might know of organists at Catholic parishes who might be interested.

    We are going to be walking through the entire exam, which is essentially nothing but playing a church service with one person listening instead of a congregation.

    There are but two tricky things involved in the exam: Transposing a hymn up or down a half-step or a whole step and playing for a sung psalm.

    The transposition rules many people out, BUT there are ways to make this easy, which I will present.

    The psalm - now that's a real problem. You have to accompany a singer, and all the psalms presented are typical of the OCP style....except one. They have a single anglican chant as an option - and you only need to accompany 2 verses. So the major emphasis that evening will be quickly turning them all into AC evangelists.

    Your cantors in OCP churches have to learn a new one almost every week. With AC you learn a psalm tone created for the English language and you can sing it ALL year. Let's say you have decide to sing one in Lent that is more somber and your cantor has to cancel and another cantor has to sing....you let them sing the AC tune they know inside and out and the problem is solved. The congregation will easily pick up the tunes - as long as you do not go high church and sing a different tune every week.

    So, if you are in driving distance of the Chattanooga Choo Choo - the train station that has railroad cars as hotel rooms - drop on in, we will be just up the hill. It's an open AGO meeting.

  • Nice idea, Noel.
    However, I don't think I could resist going, as you say, 'high church'.
    Perhaps your idea could be slightly modified as follows -

    Your cantors and congregation could easily have in their repertory:
    1) an AC for prayerful texts
    2) an AC for joyful or triumphant texts
    3) an AC for sad or penitential texts
    ...or some such.
    ...to make it really easy (unless you have a very musical congregation) you could use only 'single chants'.

    This would give some variety and music-text aptness.
    Nothing is worse than the same thing repeated over and over and over week after week after week.
  • No, nothing is worse than a cantor singing something new every week with the congregation sitting mute. I suggested just what you have proposed in Lent - and a parish could do well to know four tunes or more, but when necessary, it's no problem to substitute one when the cantor does not know the new one.

    Do that with an OCP psalm.

    For those unfamiliar with the High Church approach, a very good, almost professional Anglican choir might sing from a psalter that recommends a tune for each psalm - but this precludes "active participation" by the congregation....and we all know how important the misunderstanding of that directive lies in the hearts....
  • donr
    Posts: 968
    I would really love to attend but in no way can fly out there for one day. Is there a way we can start to do these via webX or some other online webinaire on line meeting sort of thingy.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Sure, I will borrow someone's choir - glad to do it! I can do a simple video that shows the techniques.
  • Actually, Noel...
    You are at least half wrong (or right) about the 'high church' solution.

    Many ACs are not at all difficult and are easily digested by a congregation which is desirous and willing to sing an appreciable variety of chants. All it takes is time for the genre to 'settle in' and become a part of the people's musical vocabulary.
    'Active participation' is not at all precluded:

    Many Episcopal and Anglican churches which are not by any means 'high church' can sing a goodly number of chants.

    At Walsingham we (choir and people) sing the psalm in directum every Sunday to a repertory of probably 40 or 50 double and single chants. Roman rite Catholics (not being less intelligent than other people) could do the same with the appropriate paedagogical efforts.

    Also: though I, of course, would not wish to impede the spread of Anglican chant, I would suggest that Roman rite cantors and congregations are not at all incapable of learning a variety of the simpler Gregorian psalm tones. Doing this would be no more difficult than your Anglican chant solution. Why not have a workshop with all the cantors of your parish and teach them how to sing at sight any responsorial psalm to, say, half a dozen Gregorian tones (and simultaneously get rid of OCP and the rest). This would immediately lift your liturgy into an higher realm.

    Or, you yourself could arrange the psalm every week to a Gregorian tone with a simple congregational respond and have your cantors sing that instead of whatever they are singing. You could prepare these some weeks in advance so that they would have plenty of time to get accustomed to them.

    All else aside: I wish you well in your AC project.
  • It's nice that we can disagree. We'd love to see some video of your choir with you teaching us how to sing AC.

    I see no reason to try and reinvent Gregorian psalm tones to suit English words since the Anglican church has already mastered the process.
  • Alas, I have no video of our choir.
    I do suspect, though, that you have sufficient expertise to accomplish this task.
    And, for those who are really interested, there is no better teacher than a CD of King's or some such. You might include this in your tutoring. Perhaps you could give your class the psalm text and have them sing along with the CD of psalm 23 or 150 or... If one is not swept up into the spirit of it just by listening, he or she is probably hopeless.
    Again: much encouragement to your workshop. Will you give us a report?