Bishop Alexander Sample is now Archbishop of Portland
  • And an appointment TO OCP-Land, since he'll be on their Board. It's a little like naming Ted Nugent the head of the Brady Campaign. I don't dare hope for HUGE changes, but I suspect that hymn texts will get scrutinized a little harder.
  • Coincidence, Jeffrey? :)
  • Oh, you can bet the Pope knows what he is doing lol :)
  • There are also those very familiar with the Archdiocese of Portland who work for the Congregation of Bishops.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 802
    That's awesome. Now, we just need someone to overhaul Chicago.
    Thanked by 1ryand
  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    As I've cautioned over at the Cafe, guys and gals, don't set your stopwatches for a dash, but for a 5K, half-marathon, or full marathon for these bishops. We have a very narrow window through which we view what they're called to do, problem/solution wise. We think automatically "Save the Liturgy, save the world." They're thinking "How can I save us from shuttering three inner city beautiful Gothic-church parishes, 5 schools, revitalize a shell shocked group of pastors/priests et al, ad nauseum.
    Rather than look for the "White Knight New Guy" (courtesy Flowerday) solution, look for the Bruskewitz model and hope that fellows like Olmstead have long tenures.
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 802
    Yes. But we can still say a prayer of thanksgiving when the pope or a bishop or priest for that matter makes even a small gesture to preserve the liturgy.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,576
    We'll see a renewal of the liturgy in our lifetimes, or die trying.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    ryand:

    I definitely agree with the die trying part.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    Melofluent, you are of course correct. However, most of us get worked up because so many in the episcopacy are totally indifferent to the liturgy and renewal of it. +Sample is enthusiastic, positive, and competent. Hopefully Portland is well enough off that he can focus on that, rather than worry about the afflictions, such as those you mention!
  • rollingrj
    Posts: 267
    Hopefully Portland is well enough off that he can focus on that,...


    Is not the Archdiocese under bankruptcy protection at this time? While Vlazny was originally sent there (from the diocese of Winona, MN, I having lived in Mankato during his tenure) to fortify the pro-life movement, he inherited the financial mess associated with the priest scandal.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    The Bishop will have a challenge, I suspect. I was reading Fr. Z's announcement and the comments of which this is one:

    "He has his work cut out for him. Not only is there the OCP fiasco but the pro gay, pro “choice” element runs deep among “catholics” in the region who have not been properly taught for decades."


    However, I don't see too many places where that is not the case. Tuff times for the Church.
  • We had a Pontifical EF Mass at my parish a few months ago and Bishop Sample was the celebrant. He has a very nice singing voice. His Marquette seminarians are happy for him but sad too that they are losing such a supportive bishop.
  • From an Anglican list, a former OCP employee writes:


    Oregon Catholic Press is part of the Archdiocese of Portland (in Oregon). I worked for OCP so I can speak to this.

    The Archbishops have no real involvement with OCP. Of course, that could change. Archbishop Levada did insist that the language of a Haugen song be altered so that God is not invoked as Mother.

    So, looking into my crystal ball, I could see the Archbishop insisting that OCP drop some theologically dubious texts (but they're in the hardbound hymnal versions, so purging will take a long time).

    And, in theory, he might encourage them to publish more traditional texts and music (but actually, their proportion of this is just about the same as GIA and J.S. Paluch/World Library). OCPs contention is that traditional music doesn't sell (and that speaks volumes).

    Also, when parishes buy licenses for reproducing items, many of the traditional hymns and tunes are in public domain, so there aren't the same kind of royalties to be collected. And that, boys and girls, is one reason why revisions of hymn texts and new harmonies for hymns are pumped out and copyrighted: so that there's a royalty fee to be collected.

    Massive change? No way. Minor changes? Perhaps. A few items for a more traditional market? Maybe. But they'll never want to do anything to stop the cash flow because the Archdiocese is still paying off settlements related to underage sex abuse. OCP is the cash cow of the Archdiocese of Portland, and that makes it a sacred cow.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    Also, when parishes buy licenses for reproducing items, many of the traditional hymns and tunes are in public domain, so there aren't the same kind of royalties to be collected. And that, boys and girls, is one reason why revisions of hymn texts and new harmonies for hymns are pumped out and copyrighted: so that there's a royalty fee to be collected.


    And that, boys and girls is why most of the new music, the new texts and the rewritten harmonies are despicable. Shame on OCP, GIA and WLP (although I think WLP tends to be the better of the bunch). In general, their (new revised) voice leading is atrocious and unplayable AND undersireable by professional organists. I always use the 1940 hymnal for harmonizations and have entirely scrapped their silly Keyboard accompaniments. Amateur to the core.

    That is one cow that needs to be shot and put out of its misery so that WE can also be put out of our misery!
  • And that, boys and girls, is one reason why revisions of hymn texts and new harmonies for hymns are pumped out and copyrighted: so that there's a royalty fee to be collected.


    This rings very false to me. The term for copyright is "the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For . . . a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication." The idea that a publisher constantly needs to "pump out" changes and revisions to renew their copyrights is baseless. Once a century, maybe.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    The royalty issue is a red herring, in my opinion, and belies a misunderstanding of the economics of publishers. Intellectual property doesn't allow OCP to charge more for the same thing. It stops other people from selling the same thing. IF the goods were interchangeable, IP would help OCP. As it is, the strategy explained above would not produce an economic benefit.

    That is not to let OCP off the hook or anything. I just think it's an inaccurate explanation.
    (Although, I have to say -- the fact that it is stupid doesn't mean it isn't being done. Lots of businesses make poor business decisions.)

    My sense of things is that OCP is wholly capitalist in nature- that it operates based on selling whatever (and however) they think will produce the most money. I am of the opinion that GIA and WLP are both more "idealistic" in their publishing practice, doing their best to promote a model of liturgical music that they see as ideal. (Whether you agree with that ideal is a whole other issue.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,848
    Mark, I imagine that the writer sees publishers as modifying _public domain_ hymns and tunes to produce their own in-house version, so that the changes could be copyrighted where previously no copyright was in force. As you point out, once they've done so, they wouldn't need to do it again to the same hymn. But if it brings in a little profit, they could be tempted to do the same to other hymns and tunes.
  • You could be right, Chonak. But I'm still dubious about the proposition that there is anything to this concept of altering a public-domain text or tune in order to sell it. The economics doesn't make sense. What would impel a person to pay for a copyrighted, altered version of (let's say) Faith of Our Fathers when the original version is in the public domain?

    There are three possibilities: (1) the copyrighted version is professionally engraved, comes in a convenient format, etc., while the public-domain options are inferior; (2) the copyrighted version comes in a collection you are buying anyway; or (3) you prefer the altered version over the original to a sufficient degree that you are willing to pay for it. Well, in case (1) it makes little difference to the customer that the lyrics are revised; he is willing to pay simply for high-quality production value. In case (2), the customer also doesn't care about the alterations; he's buying a hymnal with 300 hymns in it (or a license embracing 3000 hymns, psalms, and antiphons), not looking for Faith of Our Fathers specifically. So in both of these cases, revising the lyrics and copyrighting the result does nothing at all to help the publisher to "sell" the hymn. Indeed, it is rather in the publisher's interest not to do so, so as not to have to pay royalties to the author. It must be remembered that something need not be copyrighted in order for a publisher to sell it. Anybody who has paid for a copy of The Scarlet Letter or The Federalist Papers knows this.

    In case (3), of course, altering the hymn does help sales. But it does so only by creating a new product which customers prefer to what is already on the market. Filling a market demand? That's not exactly the sort of devious, underhanded copyright gamesmanship that people are alleging here, is it.

    Or to put it another way, can anybody explain how it is that (again, for the sake of example) altering the harmonization of Immaculate Mary might help a publisher make money? Sure, maybe there are people looking for a new, better harmonization -- in that case, the publisher is producing a new product that people want. As well they should. But does it let them charge more money for OneLicense or Gather? Again, I suggest the opposite: it would only stand to reduce their profits.
    Thanked by 2Gavin Adam Wood
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,288
    Here's the deal.

    They do it because their sister products are linked with the same custom text, melody and harmony. When you own the pew hymnal, you have to buy the choir edition; when you own the choir edition, you have to buy the keyboard and guitar editions. The missalette has antiphons in them. (If they could alter those texts, they would!) I have to get the extra Psalm music editions because they are not included in the hymnal. They change it constantly because they want you to buy the whole NEW package when it comes out. Plain and simple. I can't even use GIA 2nd edition materials with their 3rd edition materials cause little things change in the words or the music and it will drive you batty to try!

    Copyrighting is just the added insurance that no one else can use their altered arrangements, altered texts and altered melodies. My old keyboard edition of GIA doesn't match the new hymnal of GIA. Kapeesh? Heck... even versions of contemporary songs are retouched a little to make this process a tangled web you can't escape.

    It is capitalism at its worst.

    Here's my solution. I take the harmony from the 1940 and paste it over top of the page of the Keyboard edition and let the new text remain. It's a pain, but often times worth the effort.

    Because I believe in conspiracy theories, I also think they want to switch out the old orthodox texts to the old hymns with NU church theology. That way they use the old time tested hymn tunes, and can promote their liberal (gender inclusive, mass a meal, social justice, we are a happy family, sing about ourselves) thinking all at the same time. This is also a marketing ploy, because if you read the text very carefully other churches besides the Catholic church can actually sing the texts since they are no longer overtly catholic. (That goes for the music AND the church). Heck, GIA sells to a host of churches besides Catholic. What does that tell you?
  • Concentrating on the new rather than promoting the standard repertoire is the death of music concert series as well as Catholic music programs. Dropping the level of the quality of music so that anyone can play and sing it means they will. Talented singers (please, no more arguments that anyone can sing - would you pay to hear go to the Metropolitan opera knowing that the soprano singing the lead role is a cantor at a Catholic church in Brooklyn who will sing for free?) and trained musicians end up being looked down upon as an unnecessary expense.

    And, demands that money be spent to get a better organ, more music, cassocks --- fall upon deaf ears when the guitarists bring their own instruments in.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,804
    Concentrating on the new rather than promoting the standard repertoire is the death of music concert series . . ."

    It's not if the new is good. Indeed, concertizing once used to concentrate on new music, to great success. Remember, Bach was quickly passe in his wake. It was the era of other masters.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I also think they want to switch out the old orthodox texts to the old hymns with NU church theology. That way they use the old time tested hymn tunes, and can promote their liberal (gender inclusive, mass a meal, social justice, we are a happy family, sing about ourselves) thinking all at the same time.


    You are, in my opinion, describing GIA, not OCP.

    I started to say this above, but this is my personal take:

    OCP - Obstinately Capitalist Publishers
    Producing crappy throwaway hymnals because subscriptions are an excellent revenue source. Any quality that seeps out is purely accidental.

    GIA - Genuinely Interested in Apostasy
    GIA produces high-quality products, and they seem to genuinely care about their customers and the church. But, they also seem to have a particular agenda and a model of "doing" church. This is fine if you agree with it (many do), or if you have the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    Adam, one particularly perplexing thing GIA did in Worship IV is lower many of the hymns a whole step. There are hymns like ELLACOMBE that are now expected to be sung at least a m3 lower than they were in hymnals 50-60 years ago. I know there are some musicians and clergy with training at GIA who edited it, so it is even more bewildering why they would want to choose keys that reinforce poor vocal pedagogy and lethargic singing.

    In addition, I have less good to say about GIA "quality" after having Worship IV. The indexes are on the level of RitualSong and Gather, not the fine indices of Richard Proulx.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen francis
  • Bruce,

    As one of the musicians/clergy who served as an editor of Worship IV, I am a bit confused by your comments.

    In Worship, third edition, the tune ELLACOMBE appears once, in the key of A-major. In Worship IV, the tune ELLACOMBE is used four times, and it is in A-major all four times.

    There are some tunes used several times in Worship IV that are printed in different keys, with the notice "For a higher key, see No.___" or "For a lower key, see No.____", but ELLACOMBE is not one of these. Lower keys can be useful in some circumstances (such as an early morning Mass), and I don't necessarily agree that they "reinforce poor vocal pedagogy and lethargic singing."

    I am not sure why you have an issue with the indexes of Worship IV. Although I didn't have anything to do with the indexing of the hymnal, they were assembled with great care.

    Some indexes in Worship IV are simply matters-of-fact, e.g. Metrical Index, Tune Index, Index of First Lines, etc. Other indexes which are a bit more "subjective" seem to me to be quite complete, e.g. Liturgical Index and Topical Index.

    Worship IV includes more indexes than Worship, third edition. The only one eliminated from Worship IV that was in Worship, third edition, is the Index of Hymns Which May Be Sung in Canon, which we thought would be something more appropriate to a choir rather than printed in the assembly book.

    Indexes in Worship IV that were not in Worship, third edition include an Index of Psalms and Canticles, an Index of Settings with Foreign Languages, an Index of Service Music, and an index listing Psalm Refrains Set to Music.

    Although I was not involved in the editing of the third edition of Worship, I am not sure that the venerable Richard Proulx was involved in much of the indexing of that hymnal. In the Preface for Worship, third edition, Richard Proulx is listed as the Music Editor, while Fr. Robert Oldershaw is listed as the Liturgical and Index Editor.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • Frogman what you say is so true. And it isn't just in church that singers see their hard work being taken over by amateurs and the quality plummet.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,084
    I am in the market for a hymnal, and it likely will be Worship IV. Yes, there is junk in it, but I can use the good and ignore the bad - and there is quite a bit that is good. I could not work with the hymn layouts and the limited number of hymns in the Vatican II. In addition, the pastor wants hymns, psalms and readings in one book, which eliminates the St. Michael. There is no perfect hymnal out there. The Hymnal 1940, came as close to perfection as any I have seen, in terms of quality.

    Lower keys: I have noticed that, too. Take any hymnal from the 50s and 60s, and you will discover that many hymns are now in lower keys. I have wondered if learning to sing is not as common these days. Singing those higher notes is not a learned skill anymore.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,084
    So, will the good Archbishop lead the OCP cash cow back into the barn, or let her continue her little Rumspringa? Inquiring minds want to know. Stay tuned and perhaps we will have more details.
  • CharlesW, I believe the reason for the higher keys was due to the fact that they used to sing in parts, and organists could transpose at sight if need be.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,084
    Makes sense, because when I worked for the Protestants, congregational part-singing was the norm, in the written keys. For example, I tried "Holy, Holy, Holy" in the older key of "E" with my Catholic congregation, and they complained about it being, "too high."
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,145
    This lowering of keys of hymns and printing melody only hymns is symptomatic of a lowering of both standards and expectations, the dumbing down of hymn singing to suit the least able which thereby drags down the ability of congregations to sing. Play 4-part hymns in keys that are meant for 4-part singing and do not give in to those that would have congregations stumble, bumble and mumble along with singing, which, if it is sung at all, is barely fourth rate. And, for the love of hymnody and God, use hymnals that are not melody only.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,084
    How did we end up with melody only hymnals in the Catholic Church? We were told many years ago that melody only was an English practice, but I have since found that is not true.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,804
    Oh, dear. American Catholics (aside perhaps from German-American Catholics) don't have a tradition of singing SATB during Mass. We're not going to get one with SATB hymnals (as opposed to a genuine tradition that is handed down experientially). First, and most importantly, music literacy has declined. Second, most untrained singers are naturally going to gravitate to mezzo/baritone ranges (it's something of a bell-curve), not true SATB ranges. Scowling at them for failing to keep up with our standards will not help one iota. Indeed, it will have the opposite effect. I've witnessed the effort to raise keys (for some reason, often by music directors who are sopranos or tenors...). The result, typically: a considerable muting of the congregation, especially men. Keep your principles and kill your models for singing by adult men, and see where that will get us in the long-term.
  • wow, very interesting article.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,576
    I'd love to read his pastoral letter when it is released. Make sure to post it if you see it!
  • BruceL
    Posts: 1,006
    As one of the musicians/clergy who served as an editor of Worship IV, I am a bit confused by your comments.

    In Worship, third edition, the tune ELLACOMBE appears once, in the key of A-major. In Worship IV, the tune ELLACOMBE is used four times, and it is in A-major all four times.

    There are some tunes used several times in Worship IV that are printed in different keys, with the notice "For a higher key, see No.___" or "For a lower key, see No.____", but ELLACOMBE is not one of these. Lower keys can be useful in some circumstances (such as an early morning Mass), and I don't necessarily agree that they "reinforce poor vocal pedagogy and lethargic singing."

    I am not sure why you have an issue with the indexes of Worship IV. Although I didn't have anything to do with the indexing of the hymnal, they were assembled with great care.

    Some indexes in Worship IV are simply matters-of-fact, e.g. Metrical Index, Tune Index, Index of First Lines, etc. Other indexes which are a bit more "subjective" seem to me to be quite complete, e.g. Liturgical Index and Topical Index.

    Worship IV includes more indexes than Worship, third edition. The only one eliminated from Worship IV that was in Worship, third edition, is the Index of Hymns Which May Be Sung in Canon, which we thought would be something more appropriate to a choir rather than printed in the assembly book.

    Indexes in Worship IV that were not in Worship, third edition include an Index of Psalms and Canticles, an Index of Settings with Foreign Languages, an Index of Service Music, and an index listing Psalm Refrains Set to Music.

    Although I was not involved in the editing of the third edition of Worship, I am not sure that the venerable Richard Proulx was involved in much of the indexing of that hymnal. In the Preface for Worship, third edition, Richard Proulx is listed as the Music Editor, while Fr. Robert Oldershaw is listed as the Liturgical and Index Editor.


    Father, first off, an apology: I had the tune wrong. It's been a long couple weeks at work, and I didn't do due diligence. It is actually SALZBURG, for Songs of Thankfulness... As you say, it does have the key higher elsewhere, and perhaps I should have noted that. However, why do the tune lower at all? If children were singing that hymn, you are taking them down to a low C (it can generally be agreed for kids that an e or f to d or e range is healthier), and the high notes would be "on the break" for many adult female singers (at least ones that are not trained). If, as you say, it is a necessity that the hymn be sung lower in the early morning (something I am not unsympathetic to), then simply offer a low-key accompaniment. I could say that the musician should learn to transpose, but you and I both know that depends on the goodwill of the musician!

    I looked again at the indices, and I think perhaps I was too hard on the indices. Maybe I was having a grumpy day or was otherwise not fair. Likewise with the editors. My apologies.

    I hope, with that apology (hopefully as a sign of goodwill!), we can discuss some principles behind the editing of the hymnal, including the downward trend of keys. I think people have brought up some valid points, namely:

    1) Is it assumed that these hymns will not be sung in harmony? My assumption is that they will (at a choir Mass) or should be. Here in the South, it is not unusual for people in the congregation to sing parts (if they are singing at all) due to the influence of the strong American hymn-singing tradition.

    2) Why reuse so many tunes for different hymns, ELLACOMBE included? Yes, they are good tunes, but the reuse can make them rather tired over the course of the liturgical year (i.e., we would use SALZBURG perhaps 3-4 times a year maximum).

    3) Many good pairings (including KING'S LYNN with "For all your saints still striving", for example) didn't even make the cut from Worship III to RitualSong. The tunes do not die, so to speak, but are paired with texts that are sometimes more introspective and less direct (the Troeger one) that I worry do not have an audience in the American Catholic community, especially in the future. I can understand (and commend) the desire to use new texts by current authors, but perhaps pairing them with new tunes would be better?

    4) I think the psalter is a huge improvement over many in the GIA catalog; however, there is still not an effort to have a *complete* psalter in the hymnal. This would be good for those who have weekday Masses, for which one must often compose a setting... By the same token, psalms in the psalter that are really paraphrases (Shepherd me, O God) are not properly assigned to a psalter any more than my personal reflection on John 6 belongs in the book of gospels. This practice of paraphrase-masquerading-as-psalm (even if it is permitted by Sing to the Lord as a last resort) is something that I believe distorts the liturgical worship of many in the Catholic Church in America. They are fine as songs: just cue them in the scriptural index and put them in the "hymns" section of the hymnal.

    I hope you'll excuse the off-topic diversion, but these are legitimate questions, I think.

    As for Liam's comments, I am very comfortably a baritone and have seen little from my experience that indicates lowering keys improves singing. We are not discussing hymns here that would take the congregation up to an F or anything. Whenever I have had to do "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman", it is always up a m3 in F. The singing (with any age singer) is stronger and more uplifting...period.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Gavin
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,145
    Thanks, BruceL, for articulating much of my own feelings about downward transpositions, 4-part singing, excessive recycling of hymn tunes,

    What on earth is wrong with SALZBURG in D? The melodic ambitus is exactly one octave spanned by the major scale on D, and transposing it to C pushes the bass down to a low E. In former times, hymns might span an octave and a fifth ("The Star Spangle Banner" and, amusingly enough, "I am the Bread of Life" come to mind). Most will recommend a maximum span of an octave pllus a major third or perfect fourth (the latter in rare circumstances), and many hymns max out at an octave or perhaps an octave plus a major or minor second. If the top note is D or lower, there is no need for downward transposition.

    From my experience, there are a lot more than just German-American Catholics that have a 4-part hymn singing tradition: American Catholics from the south or upper midwest, English/Anglican Catholics, Polish Catholics ... and I'm probably omitting others (French/French Canadien?) that I'm not fully aware of. My Pius X Hymnal is full of 4-part harmony (and often in higher keys than present).

    Church music (including hymn singing) should not just "follow the crowd." We've been doing this for nigh onto 50 years, and look where it got us.
    Thanked by 3BruceL CharlesW Gavin
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    American Catholics (aside perhaps from German-American Catholics) don't have a tradition of singing SATB during Mass. We're not going to get one with SATB hymnals (as opposed to a genuine tradition that is handed down experientially).

    Precisely.

    This lowering of keys of hymns and printing melody only hymns is symptomatic of a lowering of both standards and expectations, the dumbing down of hymn singing to suit the least able which thereby drags down the ability of congregations to sing. Play 4-part hymns in keys that are meant for 4-part singing and do not give in to those that would have congregations stumble, bumble and mumble along with singing, which, if it is sung at all, is barely fourth rate. And, for the love of hymnody and God, use hymnals that are not melody only.

    Would you be willing to post a recording of your congregation last Sunday [not recorded from the choir loft] singing SATB? Then, we can evaluate whether this is something we would want to emulate.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Just a quick note here regarding SATB singing, and I'll try to track down the reference when I have more time.

    I believe that I read in the introduction to The English Missal (1906) that the normal state of affairs for hymn singing is that the CHOIR would sing SATB while the congregation would mostly sing the melody. (I assume the odd musician or choir sometime-member may have been singing one of the other parts). If I remember correctly, the description of this practice doesn't draw attention to itself at all- that is, the writer of the introduction (one Ralph Vaughn Williams) doesn't seem to think it unusual, odd, bad, or otherwise worth commenting on- it is just the way it is.

    (Apologies if it was not the 1906 I read this in. I know it was somewhere...)

    Given the propensity for good organists to improvise fresh harmonizations (or read pre-composed alternate one at any rate) to inner stanzas, which would require everyone to sing the melody, this isn't surprising. (The choir could be told which verses to sing unison. I doubt that information would be communicated to the entire congregation.)

    I suspect that the much-vaunted "congregations that all sang SATB" is something of a myth. The removal of SATB harmonizations from hymnals is, in my opinion, a product of the new-found ease, in recent times, of being able to produce separate books for choir, organist, and pew- whereas previously, it was typical that the same book was used in all three places. (Oh- except when a words-only pew edition was produced, as is apparently the case with The English Hymnal).

    I can't speak to any other liturgical/cultural traditions, but as far as I can tell the English hymn-singing aesthetic seems to be the thick sound of a large choir singing SATB combined with a large congregation singing the melody (in parallel octaves) with equal vigor.

    I wouldn't complain about the congregation not singing SATB. I would complain (or, take action!) about them not singing at least the melody with full voice and spirit. I would also think hard about choir recruitment, and making sure that they know the SATB harmonizations well.
    Thanked by 3CHGiffen Liam francis
  • Well I would think one reason for Catholic hymnals to not have 4 part settings, apart from the cost, is that hymns are not normal to Mass but to the Office. Of course it has been many years since this was the case.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,084
    If you want to hear congregations singing SATB hymns, visit a Southern Baptist or United Methodist church. They seem to have no problems with it.
  • (This is in response to Bruce’s comment above,)

    Thanks, Bruce, for your “good will” remarks. Just a few points in response to your observations about Worship IV:

    1. As far as SATB vs. unison singing by the assembly… As we can see from other comments in this thread, people have various opinions. Like most Catholic hymnals these days, the Worship IV pew book provides mostly unison settings. However, we did provide SATB settings of some Taize refrains as well as some short multi-cultural pieces, figuring that these shorter, repetitive pieces would have a better chance of (perhaps) some part-singing by the congregation. (Of course, the choir edition of Worship IV has SATB settings of most of the hymns.)

    2. Yes, Worship IV re-uses tunes, but this is often done for a “Hymn of the Day” text that might be used once in a three-year cycle. If tune reuse is an issue, an appropriate alternate tune of the same meter could be chosen. We really worked hard on trying to match tunes and texts.

    3. KING’S LYNN is a great tune, and we wanted to include it in Worship IV. But in the estimation of the Worship IV editors, it would not be considered a well-known tune by most Catholic congregations (based on our experience and the surveys we received). So, we did use KING’S LYNN twice, but even in these cases suggest an alternate tune that would be more familiar, AURELIA.

    4. At one of our first Worship IV editorial meetings, we dreamed about including a complete psalter! However, we realized that space considerations would prevent this, and so many daily Mass/office antiphons would need to be composed in order to make this a useful reality.

    How far a certain composition goes in paraphrasing a psalm before the psalm is not substantially recognizable is a good question. Is the text “The Living God My Shepherd Is” at #709 (sung to BROTHER JAMES’ AIR) close enough to be considered a version of Psalm 23? (Note that we chose to include metrical psalmody in the hymn section of Worship IV, since we considered the musical form a hymn.) How about other metrical psalmody?

    But in the long run, I don’t think whether “Shepherd Me, O God” appears in the psalter or hymn section is of major concern. (In the “RitualSong” hymnal, it was in the hymn section, so it seems that various editors had different opinions). As you know, the proper responsorial psalms are in the Lectionary section of the hymnal. “Shepherd Me, O God” is not intended to replace Psalm 23 when that psalm is assigned for the Responsorial Psalm in the Lectionary. Many of the selections in the Psalms & Canticles section could be used as communion antiphons.

    Some other information regarding the philosophy of Worship IV can be found in the book’s Preface.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    What is the harm in giving a congregation SATB that it encounters such entrenched resistance? Leaving issues of cost aside (and why it should cost more is beside me, other than the publishing houses assume their SATB copies will sell fewer due to being marketed to choirs), if people don't read music it doesn't matter if there's one line or two, one part or four, they'll sing the melody. And if people do read music, they'll sing their part more comfortably! If there's no tradition of SATB singing, they'll sing melody anyway, so no harm. Why is this so objectionable to people?

    And as for the pitch issue, why is everyone always complaining about things being too high for people, but they never seem to complain about music being too low? Why will no one call SEVERAL low Ab's (Toolan "I am the Bread of Life"), but HEAVEN FORBID we ask someone to sing a single D!
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    "However, we did provide SATB settings of some Taize refrains as well as some short multi-cultural pieces, figuring that these shorter, repetitive pieces would have a better chance of (perhaps) some part-singing by the congregation."

    This is a good move on GIA's part. Also, I think "Lead Me, Guide Me" has most hymns in parts; I'm not sure about the second edition (which an organ teacher of mine sat on the board for!)

    In all honesty, I consider "Lead Me, Guide Me" the best mainstream Catholic hymnal, although it is unfortunately overlooked.
    Thanked by 1melofluent
  • Gavin,

    I personally would have no theoretical problem providing the Worship IV SATB choir books for the congregation. However, I think the issue is more of a practical concern. The choir books are quite hefty, and their thickness would prevent them from fitting in many standard hymnal racks.

    In addition, GIA's choir books do not contain the Scripture readings. If a congregation wanted SATB hymnals that contain the readings as well, the hymnal would be even heavier and thicker, and probably more expensive as well.
    Thanked by 1Adam Wood
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    But in the long run, I don’t think whether “Shepherd Me, O God” appears in the psalter or hymn section is of major concern[...]As you know, the proper responsorial psalms are in the Lectionary section of the hymnal. “Shepherd Me, O God” is not intended to replace Psalm 23 when that psalm is assigned for the Responsorial Psalm in the Lectionary.


    Perhaps the editorial committee is over-estimating the knowledge level of average parish music directors. Many parish music directors seem to assume that, since the piece is included in the "Psalter" section, it is usable as a liturgical Responsorial Psalm.

    A less charitable commenter might claim that GIA would like parish musicians to make that assumption. I'm not sure what I think about it.
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    That is exactly right: giving an SATB version would make the pew books too heavy and also limit the organist to this or that accompaniment harmonies.
    Thanked by 1Liam
  • Many parish music directors seem to assume that, since the piece is included in the "Psalter" section, it is usable as a liturgical Responsorial Psalm.


    Really, Adam? Any empirical evidence for this?

    A less charitable commenter might claim that GIA would like parish musicians to make that assumption.


    That would certainly be less charitable, as well as quite presumptuous.
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    Many parish music directors seem to assume that, since the piece is included in the "Psalter" section, it is usable as a liturgical Responsorial Psalm.

    This has been discussed on this forum before. 99% of people make this assumption. The same with the "Glory & Praise."

    A less charitable commenter might claim that GIA would like parish musicians to make that assumption.

    I suppose we will never know for sure, but (IMHO) that seems obvious.
    Thanked by 2Liam benedictgal