New Composition - Easter Day Propers
  • About ten years ago I set polyphonically the complete set of propers, in English, for the Mass of Easter Day. They are based on the plainchant, which in several of the pieces appears as an incipit before the polyphony begins. Texture is a mixture of homophony and imitative-counterpoint, and the writing is for SATB. Stylistic influences are Tudor and Monteverdi. Included are Introit, Psalm with responsory, Alleluya & Verse followed by Sequence, Offertory, and Communion. Level of difficulty: medium. I have performed these a number of times and they have been always well received. If anyone would like to have copies, contact me by e-mail and I should be glad to mail a set to you which, if you are so inclined, you may freely copy giving due credit. They are conceived as a capella, but I would not discourage appropriately light organ accompaniment if it were deemed useful.(I regret that I have yet to learn the art of putting such material on this forum or the internet - it would be much simpler!) If anyone wishes to give these propers a reading I should be appreciative of your various opinions.

    I am currently working on similar sets for Christmass, Epiphany, Ascension, and WhitSunday-Pentecost. The offertory antiphons are of such length that they can serve (as I think they should) as the (proper) offertory anthem. ('Anthem' derives from 'antiphon', incidentally.)

    Eventually, I hope to extend this work to cover all major feasts and solemnities. I first thought of the project during musicology studies of the earliest polyphony and of Byrd, et al. One has thought for decades that modern works in the same tradition should grace our liturgy. Perhaps the time is now ripe. Comments???
  • G
    Posts: 1,389
    This sounds like an excellent project, very much the sort of thing that is needed.
    Any chance of posting them?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    What translation r u using?
  • Translation is that for the Anglican Use, which utilises the Miles Coverdale psalter found in the AU's Book of Divine Worship and the Book of Common prayer. For those who wouldn't think this would match the English of their liturgies, they could 'modernise' the pronouns and make other minor adjustments. The Easter propers were written some years ago for the choir of Our Lady of Walsingham. Only recently have I revived the project to include the feasts mentioned above. I have for decades wondered why the Church did not commission such works from some of our truly outstanding English & American composers; on the other hand, it is perhaps a boon to us that we can take the initiative in an (thankfully?) unlegislated matter. Range of difficulty is that of not difficult to moderately difficult motets. Tonal style is primarily Rennaisance or modern. Melodic reference to the relative plainchant original is a working desideratum on each piece. Comments or suggestions are welcome.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    Is that translation acceptable for the Roman rite? Is there a text file of the entire work? I would be interested to see it.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    The Anglican Use is the Roman Rite in English--probably closer, in some extant versions, to the traditional Roman Rite than the new Missal. the Coverdale is also beautiful, and perfectly acceptable for sung propers, as there is no officially mandated translation of the Graduale.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Any translation is "acceptable" for the Roman Rite, given that there is no approved translation of the propers.
  • A short 'condition' to Jeffrey's and Gavin's comments: there MAY be a problem only with the Responsorial Psalm (118 for Easter Day) which (I stand to be corrected here) must conform to an approved translation for the Novus Ordo of the Roman Rite. In my setting the verses are for SATB choir singing the Coverdale version, and the respond is based on the melody of the plainchant gradual for the day. As they said, since there is no approved translation, nor for that matter any explicit provision for the propers in English Novus Ordo high masses, any settings of the propers can be used with the same status as 'anthems'. The Anglican Use propers are used in a number of Roman Rite parishes. (Can someone affirm or deny my concern about the RespPsalm translation?) Do you want me to send you a copy via ground mail? There are a few others waiting and it will be another week before I have finished a new copy and made copies of it. If there were sufficient interest I could see about using a more modern translation from an 'approved' psalter - but most of these are basically quite un-musical and I do not enjoy working with them.
  • I would be *extremely* interested in knowing if using Anglican Use texts is licit for Novus Ordo Masses. I ask this without any intention of snideness: quite the opposite. I would love to be able to cite reasonable authorization for their wider use, including by me!
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    I second Daniels concern. The fact that they are artistic translations would definitely piqué my interest. I have no interest to set music for the translations that are being held captive and are constantly being changed.
  • With the possible exception of the Responsorial Psalm, which I questioned above, the use of Anglican Use propers is quite licit in Novus Ordo masses for the simple reason that there are no propers or translations mandated for the NO. In using propers at all, one is, in effect, singing an anthem as an Introit, Offertory, or Communion, and there is no factor of language licitness here other than one of orthodoxy. I have gathered from reading this forum that quite a number of parishes use the AU propers or those of Bruce Ford, which use the psalter of the 1979 BCP. To be more succinct: someone on this forum rejoiced the other day that he had fulfilled a dream of doing Howells' Like as the Hart at mass - if one can sing Anglican anthems, one can sing Anglican propers which serve the same function. Only when the Church decides to explicitly mandate specific propers to a given translation will there be an issue of licitness in this area. (Is this not right, Jeffrey?)
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I continue to be amazed that the question of translation isn't a non-issue. Do you all really do nothing but Latin propers for every part of every Mass? If you've ever sung an English hymn or anthem at Mass, you've sung a text that was not approved for that use, its inclusion ostensibly having been justified by the so-called "option four" in the GIRM (and described in SttL). Singing a translation of the proper instead of replacing it with a hymn or anthem is certainly a big step closer to the ideal, and one that needs no special permission.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    Incantu:

    I totally agree with you. However, I prefer to use the latin texts because they will never go out of date. Also, they are then best suited for the Latin rite.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    100% agreement with incantu. At the very worst, you're singing another VERY VERY suitable song.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    How is singing the propers in Latin a very suitable song?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,289
    The catch, if there is one, is that the "alius cantus aptus" option does not apply to the gradual chant. If we are to use a vernacular gradual chant, it'll have to be on some basis other than as an "anthem".
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,804
    Here is the other catch:

    The church can decide to ban a certain English translation in the future and all us composers sweat and creativity gets thrown to the dustbin. The latin will always stand. It is my own personal outlook on the present situation, but I see this time as a temporary eclipse of the liturgy that will at some point be chalked up to being just that. In that regard, I look at my efforts as composing for a future generation that will one day recapture the authentic latin rite.