Solo organist repertoire for Mass
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 63
    I was wondering if there are people here in a similar position as me and I would like some advice how does one choose a repertoire for the Mass. Basically 99% of the time I’m on my own, just playing instrumental music. It’s a NO parish so theres not much music going on anyway.

    So my question is, how would you choose a repertoire in such circumstances?

    Would you just play SATB hymns instrumentally?(quite boring, but thats what my priest insists)
    or would you look for more sophisticated organ music?

    If so, do you look for organ music that has something to do with the particular Mass? Like an entrance piece based on introit chant or whatever? (difficult to find for ordinary time)

    What if theres no specific organ music for this particular Sunday?
    Just go with random prelude for the entrance and Adagio from some organ sonata for the communion?


    Just curious what are your thoughts.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,095
    Yes, you certainly can do hymn arrangements, and there are THOUSANDS of them available on IMSLP from various composers. But there are also many collections with organ works based on chant melodies. You could search by incipit on IMSLP and play pieces directly based upon the propers for that Mass.

    Don’t forget, too, that there is a lot of “harmonium” music which is actually organ music arranged for manuals (but you can take the bass with the pedal, in many instances) which adds hundreds of additional options.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • Improvising on the introit for the day would always be good as a processional.
    One collection of books that are useful to me for solo organ music are The Liturgical Organist books.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    I often used French Baroque since the pieces are not only beautiful, they are segmented enough that they can easily fit within a mass. Most of that stuff is free on IMSLP even though it seems to be at war with Adobe when I have tried to use it lately.
    Thanked by 2Lars PhilipPowell
  • LarsLars
    Posts: 63
    thanks all,

    just to clarify, I’m interested in your thought process on picking music. I too love French Baroque, but most of it is generic, ie not prescribed to specific Sunday or based on any chants. So I’m sitting here thinking “Petit prelude du 1er ton” by Gigoult is a mighty fine piece as a processional, but it has nothing to do with the introit of this Sunday. How do I justify it? am I overthinking it?..
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,772
    Fr Weber has a Complete organ accompaniment for his Propers of Sundays and Holydays in English. https://sacredmusicus.wordpress.com/
    That may not be what you had in mind as an organist but it is based on the actual texts in tne missal.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Maybe overthinking a bit. I found that most of the congregation knows little of the subtleties we observe in music. To many, it is just background noise. I would look to Catholic composers such as Peeters, Dupre, and others for chant-based literature. As for finding pieces to match the introits, you may have some difficulty finding that.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,399
    am I overthinking it?
    Ahem, I think so. A more useful approach might be to ask whether ___ is worthy of ever being played in church, and then if so, when.
    I notice however that this Sunday's Introit, Da pacem, is in fact in the 1er. ton. If you're setting the mood for "How can I keep from singing" in F major the calculus is different and you might wish to go with the Act II march from Die Zauberflöte.
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,225
    If you go on CC Watershed's "Completed Feasts" page, you can find chant accompaniments from the Nova Organi Harmonia that accord with most of the Sundays of the year, arranged for the Novus Ordo calendar.

    If you're looking for hymn preludes/arrangements of hymn tunes (which it seems that your pastor prefers) these volumes are a good source: https://www.cph.org/p-20257-Hymn-Prelude-Library-Lutheran-Service-Book-Vol-1-A.aspx
    Thanked by 1Lars
  • The Liturgical Year by Bach would be a good choice if you want things that were written for specific Sundays (although I really don't know how exactly they contribute to the all the individual liturgies' themes).

    Another thing I like to do when looking for pieces for the entrance, offertory, and communion is look at the Gregorian entrance, offertory, and communion antiphons' and try to pick a piece of organ music that has the same "key" and similar "rhythm".

    Also, CNP has suggestions for organ music at the bottom of each Sunday/Feast's Liturgical Planning. (included are CNP's suggestions for this upcoming Sunday.)
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  • The Liturgical Year by Bach would be a good choice if you want things that were written for specific Sundays (although I really don't know how exactly they contribute to the individual liturgies' themes).
    Is this a publisher's collection? Bach has no such composition by that name. The closest would be the Orgelbüchlein which isn't always tied to the liturgical year, save specific seasons like Christmas and Eastertide.
    Thanked by 2PhilipPowell Lars
  • Is this a publisher's collection? Bach has no such composition by that name. The closest would be the Orgelbüchlein which isn't always tied to the liturgical year, save specific seasons like Christmas and Eastertide

    Thanks for that clarification!
    Yes, although I do not know by who. My parish had a book with this title and the subtitle was "Orgelbüchlein" (similar to attached). I know that all of it doesn't specifically apply to all the Church seasons but I thought maybe even Christmas, Easter, and "general" would help.
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