Choral Propers in the Novus Ordo
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    For the last several years I have accorded my choirs choral settings of the propers whenever possible, particularly the offertoire. But it is a difficult task and more often than I would wish, I do not succeed in finding settings. CPDL has been helpful but I sit with my Gregorian missal and comb the choral libraries and retail sites.

    Of course they are somewhat easier to find in Latin but neither the choir or the community can manage a weekly diet of Latin motets.

    So, composers, offer us choral propers.

    Do others struggle with this question? Some days it makes me want to run off to my local EF community or even,God forbid, the SSPX.

    From the bourbon lands....
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 766
    Illuminare Publications has a couple of choral propers by Frank La Rocca, five of them available as free download. See https://illuminarepublications.com/scores/.

    This collection is meant to be "the beginning of a much larger project that will set a broad range of proper antiphons in English in choral, polyphonic settings."

  • I have argued in my dissertation and in Sacred Music (spring 2015, and upcoming in summer 2015) that choral propers are the true future of the choir tradition in the Roman Rite (Ordinary Form). Choral propers are the choral form that fit best with the Novus Ordo, and we desperately need composers to respond to that reality, rather than (or in addition to) composing free-standing motets or popular forms like Mass Ordinary settings, Te Deums, Magnificats, and so forth. Until then, hopefully the various simple English settings can be a placeholder. Of course, when composing English settings there is understandable difficulty with the translation (and with composing something that may or may not be replaced by a more official translation later).

    It is a crying need, though, especially since the vast majority of choirs can't regularly navigate the great Renaissance propers collections.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Yes, I do Frank's settings and I love them. And that is the level I would desire but they are not very "easy" settings. I love Frank's work and that is no secret to those who know me.

    I would wish for more of this level of writing and more settings.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    Isn't there a choral gradual floating around here? Rice, maybe?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Yes, I have that also Adam. And I use it. But I want the pieces to be more difficult.
  • mahrt
    Posts: 512
    As much as I Iove the choral propers, especially of Isaac and Byrd, I think they are no replacement for the Gregorian propers. My choir has occasionally sung the Byrd cycle for the Ascension, beautiful pieces; yet, I always have a twinge of regret that we were not able to sing the Gregorian Viri Galilaei or Ascendit Deus and the rest.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    But for me, the choral propers (in English and Latin) have been the way TO the Gregorian propers. As we chant in English and Latin, these choral pieces have been a way to expand the vocabulary of the notion of the proper and acquaint these texts with the singers.

    So, while Dr. Mahrt is correct, his situation is the exception rather than the rule. I think Jared's commentary is also correct insofar as the majority of composers are writing stand alone motets in English and Latin of familiar texts (Ave Verum,Ave Maria,etc...) rather than dealing with the proper texts for a given Sunday. And yes, the Renaissance sets are wonderful but not always practical or possible, even for reasonably good choirs. And my community would not stand for all Latin, much as they know I would do it if I could.

    So, I remain in my appelation for composers to set texts of the propers in English and Latin so as to add to possibilities. Frank LaRocca has modeled a great possibility in his settings. I just wish for more from different composers.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    If you like really bad voice leading, I could compose a few.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Please define "bad"?
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • rogue63
    Posts: 410
    .
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Kevin, are you speaking of Richard's SIMPLE CHORAL PROPERS, or his CHORAL COMMUNIO's? The latter aren't "Singet dem Herrn" difficult, but they are worthy of rehearsal for precision's sake. That doesn't solve your Offertorio problem, but they are a few rungs up the ladder from the SCP's. To be honest, we don't rehearse either the SEP's or SCP's except for a first read run on Sunday before Mass. While we're on the subject, I think that of the three processional propers, the choral only use of the Offertory should be used occasionally, even sparingly. As has been discussed many times, the objective use of the fourth option hymn/song can mitigate or better encapsulate a poor exegesis of the lections in a poorly considered homily. That may not be its "licit" function, but it often proves a refreshing tonic clarifying a muddy sermon.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    An interesting thought master Charles as to the use of the offertory "space".

    And yes, I use Mr. Rice's simple choral propers and the Communios. The simple choral propers are too easy to provide much challenge, though they are good when one section is somewhat depleted. The Communios are lovely and I do use them.

    But I ask: how many settings of Sanctificavit Moyses ( Offertory for the 24th Sunday) have you seen in either English or Latin for that matter? My point....!
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    A tipple of Woodford, Mssr.
  • I cannot affirm more wholeheartedly and enthusiastically Jared Ostermann's thesis. Choral settings of the propers, both simple and complex, represent the true choral music of the ordinary from of the Roman rite. Motets and anthems that are appropriate to the day are good and commendable, but these are purely ornamental to the rite, not an essential part of it. The NO will not be complete until the propers, in English-adapted chant or choral settings, have become the organic component of it that they should be.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827

    Do others struggle with this question? Some days it makes me want to run off to my local EF community or even,God forbid, the SSPX.

    Stick to Latin. I will compose a whole set of Latin Propers that would be intermediate in difficulty if you would like.

    Please define "bad"?

    Still waiting for the definition of 'nut'.

    The NO will not be complete until the propers, in English-adapted chant or choral settings, have become the organic component of it that they should be.

    The English propers will never be organic because the NO is not organic. This is a paradoxical request. Cranmer would love you for asking, however.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,596
    I have to say that I do think that while choral settings of the propers are commendable, I don't think that they are or have been viable -- at least from a performance stand point. Apart from RR's books I have only ever seen Byrds Gradualia, propers by Isaac, Offertories (a5) by Palestrina, Graduals/Alleluias by M. Haydn, and a few scattered pieces by Fux, Salieri, Mozart, Scarlatti, Padre Martini, and Bruckner, mainly for Major Feasts.

    I do think there is a reason why there are so few complete cycles of propers: The amount of time rehearsing them is out of balance for their possible use: All that time rehearsing, and it can only be used once a year. I really don't think that it was composers that drove the Choral Ordinary train, it was choirmasters, granted that often they were the same person. A choral ordinary can be learnt and then repeated many times, even two or three times over the course of a year.

    I think it's important to remember that the only setting of the Mass propers (really a true Missa Plena) has been the Requiem Mass. And that was probably considered viable because, again, the requiem is sung many times a year, and so the time taken to learn a setting will have much more pay-back.

    I have nothing against choral propers, and I have composed settings of Manducaverunt and Gustate, both ad lib. communions in the OF, but I really have no intention of even completing the full set of ad lib. communions.

    I also have reservations about choral propers at the current time in the OF milieu: I sing with a choir that usually chants the offertory in English (SEP) and then sings a motet/anthem afterward. On rare occasions the SEP is skipped and a Choral Offertory is Sung in its place (usually Palestrina). I know, and the (most of) choir knows, that this is a choral setting of the official offertory text, but I am sure that most people in the pews simply think that the choir is skipping the chant and going straight to the motet, that is, following the old Alius Cantus format used before SEP was published. Even I, in the choir, get the feeling that "something is missing". Basically, the propers have been universally ignored in the OF for so long, I don't think that it is wise to implement a form of setting the proper texts than can be mistaken for a filler motet replacing the proper.
  • Richard R.
    Posts: 712
    "But I ask: how many settings of Sanctificavit Moyses ( Offertory for the 24th Sunday) have you seen in either English or Latin for that matter?"

    Patience, Kevin. All shall be given in time.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    And there you go. Ask and you will receive.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    It's a huge undertaking. I would love to contribute something similar to Rice's collection, but having finished the SEP organ books, I know how much work that would be to create another collection through the 3-year cycle.

    From a composer's perspective, this may be why you haven't seen it happen much. Vernacular chant and/or accompaniments, of which there are many collections, are a lot of work as it is. Choral settings would take a long time to churn out.

    Rice's cryptic comment is interesting, though...
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,142
    As a choirmaster, I would love something like what Kevin is describing. I think the LaRocca Propers will not be accessible for most parish choirs, lovely though they are, and that the Simple Choral Gradual can be *too simple* after a while. Some sort of intermediate-level choral settings in English in a polyphonic/Renaissance style would be a God-send.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,629
    I've got a set of English offertories for Eastertide. It would be nice to monetize them, but again, no luck with the gatekeepers.
    I've kind of lost interest in setting temporary local Uses, but given a healthy financial interest, I could reconsider.
  • Jazzer
    Posts: 34
    Jon Naples' Offertory is awesome!
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    I've kind of lost interest in setting temporary local Uses, but given a healthy financial interest, I could reconsider.
    amen brother
  • Possible solution would be choral propers in simple chordal compositional style like Healey Willan, Everett Titcomb or Russian homophonic chordal manner. See the "9 Sacred Pieces" by Tchaikovsky for another example and model.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Okay, I spend about 150-250$ per piece when I purchase retail(generally 35 copies). Some are more expensive (French pieces such as Durufle,Poulenc), but that's about the average. So the question is can I populate my library with choral propers as opposed to various incidental pieces? At this point I want to invest in choral propers and the Gregorian missal.

    And I would not want to do all choral propers. Chant still is the heart of the liturgy.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    That's interesting, Kevin. I can't remember buying an octavo from anyone within the last decade. Now before Quick swiftly slits my jugular, I spend budget on whole collections when necessary. For example, the last two being Morber's and Naple's. Of course, a library built over 24 years is fairly huge. But that $150+ for one piece only reinforces an outmoded system that perpetuates certain publishers' bloated bureaucracies.
    As to the topic, factored into my philosophy stated above is the reality that the text of the Offertorio reiterates that of the Introit. So, I choose flexibility according to need. I'm not pandering to Adam W's observation about linking lessons to "themes," I'm just saying that particular moment in the liturgy is a pivot point.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    As an aside, I think Patreon offers an interesting model for how such a project could be funded.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    I do not disagree blessed Charles, but your library and mine are at different points in their evolution. Par example: the Durufle 4 motets....each runs about 3-4 a copy. Poulenc; Salabert is making a killing off of them about 3.50 a pop for each of the Christmas motets. I have not gotten to the Lenten ones yet.

    I would also prefer to buy collections, but that is not always the case. And yes, houses such as JW Pepper are finding a rough road these days. Look at Aureole editions and Gerald Near's work. Easily 2 to 3 a copy.

    Choral propers...the search goes on.
  • This all becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy:

    1 - it's too hard to learn choral pieces specific to each week!

    2 - let's not compose any!

    My own Novus Ordo experience with Mass Ordinary settings, however, has been to learn maybe one in the spring (for Easter or Pentecost or Corpus Christi) and one in the Fall (for Christmas or Christ the King). And there is not much difference between learning a special Ordinary for a special feast, and learning a set of propers for that feast. Now, could you get a couple runs out of a Mozart Coronation Mass in a year? Probably. But I don't see the "frequency argument" as particularly compelling.

    At the other end of the spectrum you have a St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, or St Agnes in the Twin Cities, which maintain a large repertoire of Ordinaries and do a different one each week. But here again, if a program can maintain twenty to thirty Ordinary settings per year, it could just as easily maintain twenty to thirty Proper cycles (in terms of paid professional musicians, rehearsals, etc.).

    Bottom line, for me, it that if you are just doing one or two major works per year for special days, they could just as easily be proper cycles. If you are maintaining a regular weekly series of major works, you can't keep using the same Ordinary settings over and over, so you still have to maintain a huge repertoire of major works. Again, these could be proper cycles. The frequency argument seems to be most important for a "medium-size" program that is trying to transition to regular Ordinary settings but doesn't yet have enough repertoire to stretch that far.

    I think a lot of what is missed in this discussion is the concept of patience. Saying we need choral propers does not mean that we need three polyphonic propers per Sunday RIGHT NOW or we have failed!. The Graduale should be the foundation, possibly supplemented by the various English resources. A good chant schola can absolutely sing three propers per week. OR, at the "choir Mass" the chant schola could sing two, and the mixed choir could focus on just one choral setting per week. And even here, we have to think of the long-term scale of things. Maybe we start out just trying to learn one choral proper for the major feast days of the upcoming year. Then next year we add a few more choral propers. It may take years just to establish, say, one good proper offertory for the major solemnities. But then each year you continue to fill in the gaps and build the choir's repertoire. The programs with twenty to thirty Ordinary settings did not build their library and repertoire overnight - we may also need to think in terms of decades here with choral propers.

    That said, the well-established programs with 8-16 professional singers could certainly move at a much quicker rate, and even tackle a Palestrina Offertory per week the first year, followed by an Isaac Introit the second year, followed by a Byrd Communio the third (just an example of how much repertoire is possible, off the top of my head). A professional singer-led program could easily have full polyphonic propers within five years, September through June. And the repertoire of polyphonic propers was written for special, pinnacle, professionally-led programs back in the day, too. For the rest of us, a more modest and realistic goal may be better!
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    Who said learning a choral proper every week is too hard?

    Saying we need choral propers does not mean that we need three polyphonic propers per Sunday RIGHT NOW or we have failed!. The Graduale should be the foundation, possibly supplemented by the various English resources.

    Absolutely.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,596
    Maybe with a professional choir you can achieve this. But I don't see it working in 98.87% of parishes.

    Prior to the council probably 99.99% of parishes had a steady repertoire of Choral ordinaries (ranging from the hideous to the sublime, but that's another issue), and they could be used at various times. And if you couldn't manage Palestrina's Missa Brevis by Christmas as you planned you could still continue and do it on Epiphany or even on the Third Sunday after Epiphany. And then repeat it on Christ the King.

    If you are working on a setting of Confirma hoc for Pentecost and you don't quite get it ready, then, Oh well, let's try next year.

    And I still maintain:
    I also have reservations about choral propers at the current time in the OF milieu: I sing with a choir that usually chants the offertory in English (SEP) and then sings a motet/anthem afterward. On rare occasions the SEP is skipped and a Choral Offertory is Sung in its place (usually Palestrina). I know, and the (most of) choir knows, that this is a choral setting of the official offertory text, but I am sure that most people in the pews simply think that the choir is skipping the chant and going straight to the motet, that is, following the old Alius Cantus format used before SEP was published. Even I, in the choir, get the feeling that "something is missing". Basically, the propers have been universally ignored in the OF for so long, I don't think that it is wise to implement a form of setting the proper texts than can be mistaken for a filler motet replacing the proper.


    Do choral propers if you want to. I won't.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,142
    Agreed with Kevin. Choral propers as have been described here would be a great boon for my choir.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    There is this http://www.ccwatershed.org/blog/2015/jun/14/offertory-chant-propers-three-parts-sundays-feasts/

    Not the style you guys are shooting for, but it's something.

    And, who knows if anyone might be inspired by this thread's existence; the desire for this type of resource might have prompted something... ;)
    Thanked by 1SarahJ
  • Heath
    Posts: 856
    Kevin, an excellent topic! I started a thread many moons ago about this:

    http://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/337/new-music-for-the-ordinary-form/p1

    It's been heartening to see that some of those needs have been filled since I posted that!

    Some other options:

    --My "Bread from Heaven" collection has the 7 ad lib communion texts set to classical polyphony.

    --Kevin Allen has some wonderful motets on the propers floating around, even a setting of "Sanctificavit"! Check out his collections over at ccwatershed.org.

    Thanked by 1kevinf
  • '...Everett Titcomb...'

    Amen!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • JahazaJahaza
    Posts: 467
    a few scattered pieces by Fux, Salieri, Mozart, Scarlatti, Padre Martini, and Bruckner, mainly for Major Feasts.

    There are also some by Leoš Janáček. I expect there are a LOT out there.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,629
    I can't remember buying an octavo from anyone within the last decade. Now before Quick swiftly slits my jugular,...

    Huh? Your money, your choir. If the octavo people are producing nothing of value to you, and the collection people are, as His Holiness would say, who am I to judge?

    One can't do regular choral propers outside of a culture of literacy. One can barely do propers at all in such a case, but the language of chant is fairly limited, and at some point you "get it". The same is true of High Renaissance polyphony; it's a fairly predicable language. There is no common practice for new music, so if it's to be read and learned efficiently, the choir needs to be solid in literacy fundamentals. Which mine isn't, yet.

    If one is doing choral Propers, it might be wise to focus on those which repeat during the year (like this week's offertory). I can't do them folks don't read well enough yet. I was looking at doing the Tinel Assumpta est Maria on Assumption Saturday Sunday, but page 2 shows up blank at IMSLP. Otherwise, we have a big repertoire of Eucharistic motets (hard not to repeat the same texts too much)
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    If someone mentioned this already, I missed it... but back in the day Eugene Lindusky edited several volumes of polyphony by Renaissance masters with pretty singable English translations. Hard to track down, but they are out there. Healey Willan also has some English anthems that are based on proper Latin texts. Alleluia, Christ the Passover for the Easter season is particularly accessible.

    For those not opposed to Latin, Wilhelm Waldbroel and a coterie of composers in the German-speaking world were busy for some time composing polyphonic suites of Mass propers (also some in German) for Christ the King, Pentecost, Ascension, Sacred Heart, etc., as well as for some Ordinary Sundays. Some can still (again?) be found in print. To my ear, they sound much more fresh and modern than the compositions that came out of the Cecilian movement of the previous generation.

    My choir has a core of four paid singers, and we will be aiming for one proper motet every Sunday (usually an Offertory or a Communion), and one fully polyphonic Mass (ordinary or proper) per month for our weekly Missa Cantata. So far so good. It provides a nice contrast to the chant (along with a variety of organ music), and we have been getting a favorable response from the clergy and parishioners.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Yes, I've mentioned the Lindusky tranlations (WLP, mid 70's vintage) frequently here as, IMO, worthy of use. We use his Pierluigi "Just as the deer" as the Psalm after 7th (EZ) reading every Easter Vigil. Contrary to some commentary, I've not found the English clumsy, tho' certainly not as pristine as "Sicut.."
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,308
    One volume of Lindusky motets is offered for sale by WLP, and another is available as a download on the CMAA site.

    See: http://forum.musicasacra.com/forum/discussion/9811/another-collection-by-eugene-lindusky-now-online-renaissance-motets-in-english-for-3-equal-voices/p1
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  • rich_enough
    Posts: 794
    Let's not forget the substantial contribution of fellow CMAAer Chris Mueller, who's written dozens of offertories in English and communion antiphons in Latin.
  • CGM
    Posts: 488
    Thanks to Rich for his link. Recordings of some of the Offertories:

    - Cry Out With Joy, V. Easter
    - To You, O Lord, I. Advent
    - My Heart Has Awaited Reproach, Palm Sunday
    - Out Of The Depths, XXXIII. Ordinary
    - God Goes Up, Ascension & VII. Easter
    - I Will Bless The Lord, XI. Ordinary (commissioned by Adam Bartlett)

    Okay, I spend about 150-250$ per piece when I purchase retail(generally 35 copies)

    I sell my scores usually for $10 or $15 per PDF, and you make as many photocopies as you like. A lot cheaper than $150 for 35 octavos!
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen rich_enough
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,350
    Okay, I spend about 150-250$ per piece when I purchase retail(generally 35 copies)



    I sell my scores usually for $10 or $15 per PDF, and you make as many photocopies as you like. A lot cheaper than $150 for 35 octavos!


    Unfortunately, composition isn't fungible.
  • CGM
    Posts: 488
    but to quote the inimitable Duke Ellington, good music is "beyond category"
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,827
    I sell my comps for a dollar per chorister and the model is successful because larger groups can afford the fee while it doesn't prohibit smaller ensembles from sales.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,902
    Maybe with a professional choir you can achieve this. But I don't see it working in 98.87% of parishes.


    This.

    I have sung in a semi-pro chorus, and a pretty darn good church choir, and have conducted three "regular" parish choirs. I daresay that none of them, including the semi-pro chorus, could take on single-rehearsal choral propers and do them well (with the exception of Rice's simple choral settings.)

    Therein is where the rubber meets the road. Just like Chant propers, done badly, can put off even the most devout Catholic PIP, so could any other choral effort done badly.
  • JMoellman
    Posts: 20
    Yes, Kevin, Salabert is making a fortune, but Poulenc is in the PD in Canada (50 yrs.)!

    Could a collection of propers (either by season or specific proper: Int., Off, Comm., etc.) be put together with multiple composers (even in differing styles/levels of difficulty) contributing? The organizational aspect would have to be handled in advance (e.g., who would get to compose what). Latin/English, voicing, chant-based/non-, in the Creative Commons via CMAA? I think that nice, simple settings do exist. Maybe composers could strive for some more expressive artistic work, as pieces that "get the job done" are available.
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,641
    Franz Xavier Witt has some very accessible versions that can be quite beautiful:
    http://www3.cpdl.org/wiki/index.php/Franz_Xaver_Witt

    My choir loves singing his Meditabor Offertory and it's easy enough to be accessible to most SATB groups.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,111
    This thread has been a real help. I have received a number of possibilities regarding the use of choral propers. Thanks to all who responded privately and with links.

    From the bourbon lands....