Polyphonic Introits
  • Question for the collective wisdom: has anyone ever used a polyphonic Introit in the Mass? I'm not terribly experienced, but I've never been asked to sing one (outside of a Requiem). The reason I ask is that I've been looking for/at Proper settings, and it seems that there are by far more polyphonic Introits than anything else. (Graduals, Communions, and sequences are in the middle, with offertories the scarcest.)
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,283
    When Offertories seems like the thing you'd most want, doesn't it?

    I wonder if it has to do with projects getting started and then not finished. You always begin with an Introit for Advent 1.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • No, I don't think that was it. If you look at the Trent codices and German sources up through Senfl, you'll see sets of Propers for a particular feast with no Offertory. When you find free-standing propers, they're generally Introits. And there are a few publications of just Introits, while the only "just Offertories" I can think of is Palestrina. The situation gets a little better post-Trent, and on into the Italian Baroque, but not dramatically. And of course any Propers are far outnumbered by free motets, hymns, and Vesper psalms. I'm curious about the liturgical trends that formed that. And I'm particularly interested if there is any use for those Introits nowadays. It seems as if the people even doing Introits now are sneaking in a chant introit before the hymn.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    See Walther Lipphardt, Die Geschichte des mehrstimmingen Proprium missae (1950) for a catalog of polyphonic propers of all kinds. Also, it is possible that Francesco Corteccia wrote offertories (as did Lasso, of course); there is a new edition of his liturgical music in the CCM series (32/vol. 13, ed. Burn and D'Accone). I don't have it with me at the moment.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,100
    Well, the 'title' of a particular feast day is the first word of the Introit. Could that be it?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • We've got that Corteccia volume here in the library, and there's not an offertory in the bunch. It's all Introit-Alleluia-communion, and when something is missing from that, it's usually the communion. Oddly, Case doesn't own the Lipphardt; I just ordered it from OhioLink. Thanks for the tip.
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    No. My intuition informs me such is "counter intuitive."
    Chant and hymn/aca.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,100
    I would also think that if you are performing a proper for a particular feast day, the Introit could fit well into the offertory or communion and still be theologically better than 99% of what actually gets programmed there.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,771
    One year we did choral Advent introits with the congregation joining a mode vii Gloria Patri:

    Ad te Dom. levavi A. Scarlatti
    People of Zion (American Gradual)
    Rejoice in the Lord alway Purcell
    Rorate caeli Rheinberger

  • Ooh, fun idea; how did it work?
  • For major feasts, I have used the propers from Byrd's Gradualia. It isn't something I do regularly, but it does add a level of solemnity and festivity.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • That there are almost no polyphonic Offertories before Trent might have the same reason there are no Kyrie compositions in Tudor church music. The Offertory once had extended Soloist verses (the Offertoriale Romanum is around here somewhere), the Sarum Kyrie had tropes. Both are rather long text that don't lend themselves to being set polyphonically.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    If I recall correctly, Palestrina wrote the offertories because substitutions were common practice.
  • That makes sense,P.; thanks. But it isn't really the question. In my search for Offertories and Communions, I'm encountering all these Introits. There's no point in me editing any of them if, as I suspect, there's absolutely no constituency for polyphonic Introits, and I'm just trying to confirm that. I don't think one would even hear them that often in the concert world, because they so often have chant psalm verses or Gloria Patri, or are based on chant themselves... maybe not such striking music in the non-liturgical context.
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    It is certainly the case that Isaac's Choralis Constantinus has not had much of a life in the concert hall compared to, say, Josquin's motets.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 505
    The scarcity of offertories is most likely because the offertory was frequently played on the organ. Thus, the Choralis Constantinus has no offertories.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,283
    There's no point in me editing any of them if, as I suspect, there's absolutely no constituency for polyphonic Introits,


    I disagree. The texts are often the repeated in more than one place. For example, Advent One's Introit and Offertory are both "Unto You, O Lord, I Lift Up My Soul" (although with confusingly slightly different word-orders in Latin).

    Besides that, they could almost certainly find use as motets, "anthems," and other ad-hoc "special music."
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,477
    Right, Adam. But all things being equal, wouldn't you rather have an Offertory? I'm not saying burn 'em; I'm just trying to prioritize my time. That said, I have a setting of the Easter Introit (by Antonio Nola) recently up on cpdl.

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,283
    trying to prioritize my time


    Know the feeling. Just sayin' - don't give up on 'em if they are worthwhile music.
  • Just a thought- if you sing the Introitus for the full procession: sing the chant with verses and Gloria Patri; then at the incensing of the altar, sing the polyphonic setting as the final repetition of the antiphon.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,771
    Hello Dr. Mahrt,

    I'm not sure if you'll remember a conversation in 1990 with a tendonitis-stricken cellist, but it was just the thing I needed to begin another musical career.

    The organ offertory is no doubt correct, but would you care to elaborate on this hypothesis which might seem to predict Advent/Lent polyphony cycles as well as organ repertories? It's curious to me that Constantine organist Hans Buchner's book has so many introits (which I suppose might substitute for the repetition of the antiphon?) but no offertories.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 505
    The offertories of Orlando di Lasso are for days on which the organ is not played, i.e., Advent and Lent.

    My theory about Buchner is that the organ begins, and Isaac's introit is sung as the repeat: Int--organ, ps. vs.--Isaac, Gloria Patri--organ, repeat of Introit--Isaac.

    I need to think more about the absence of offertories in Buchner's Fundamentbuch.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,771
    I must have another look at Lassus without the OF goggles!

    The Buchner introits paraphrase the antiphon, but a virtue of your schemata is that one may use both settings of Puer nobis or Gaudeamus.

    Could the Offertory procession have been shorter than we now imagine? I used to have to come up with 30'' voluntaries (try Bruckner's sketchbook if you're ever in a similar situation) for a Lutheran Pastor who would still cut me off as often as not. How ancient is the taking of the collection at this point?
  • mahrt
    Posts: 505
    Offertory processions were not obligatory, and I suspect that their usage varied a lot. The length of the offertory depends more upon whether there was incensation. In some schemes, individuals in choir were incensed separately; this accounts for the number of verses that were traditionally attached to the offertory responsory.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen