Wishing you a blessed solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul:
Wishing you all a blessed Corpus Christi, here are some recordings and practice videos of some of the English chant propers found in Lumen Christi Simple Gradual.These antiphons use the new translation of the Roman Missal as their basis, and are s…
Many will remember when videos for my book Simple English Propers were posted here on a weekly basis. This effort was grass-roots in every way, and did much to spark a renewed interest in chanting the Propers of the Mass throughout the English-speaking world.
Now, I am extremely excited to begin sharing some all-new recordings and videos from the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual—the work that has grown from and followed SEP. These simple, yet enduring chant settings are also found in the Lumen Christi Missal.
The antiphons of the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual have the benefit of being in accord with the new translation of the Roman Missal, and are arranged with the realities of parish life in mind. Accompaniment editions can be freely downloaded weekly at the Illuminare Score Library, and both Assembly and Choir Editions are now available for purchase.
Please enjoy these recordings, which are more than mere demonstration videos. I hope that they will also serve as helpful weekly meditations on the scriptures and on the proper texts of the Mass, so that we can continually strive to pray with the Church.
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON, Men of Galilee
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON, God Goes Up with Shouts of Joy
COMMUNION ANTIPHON, Sing Praise to the Lord
Or: COMMUNION ANTIPHON, Behold, I am with you Always
Many of you will remember when Jeffrey Tucker was posting videos with recordings of Simple English Propers here on a weekly basis a few years ago. Much has happened since then, and I have been asked by many to tell the story of how SEP came into being, and to describe how it led me to further develop the Lumen Christi Series, from Illuminare Publications.
As the composer and editor of Simple English Propers, I would like to share a bit of what surrounded the creation of what appears now to have been something of a seminal project, and, also, how it led me to develop its immediate successor—my most recent effort—the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, which is now shipping (you can order it here).
Simple English Propers grew out of a project that developed at Chant Cafe. The Cafe began in the summer of 2010, amidst the excitement that surrounded the new translation of the Roman Missal. Jeffrey and I began to put our heads together a few months after the blog began, when he made the startling realization that no single book existed that simply contained the processional proper antiphons of the Mass, in English, that was readily accessible and available to parishes today. He was determined to fix this problem right away.
He decided that a book needed to be produced—a single, inexpensive volume—that contained nothing more than a collection of simple chant settings of the Entrance, Offertory and Communion antiphons from the Graduale Romanum for Sundays and Feasts, in English, with Psalm verses, that could be sung in any parish by cantors and choirs without much chant training.
And secondly, it was important for the entire book to be released under the Creative Commons so that it could be posted online for free download and be used by anyone according to their wishes, in addition to being sold in print editions. At the time, the copyright on the Missal texts appeared to restrict this.
And so it was decided that unofficial translations would be used for the antiphons, and the project moved on.
Once this was settled, Jeffrey asked Richard Rice to propose a solution for the needed simple chant settings, having worked with him before on the Parish Book of Chant and other publications. Richard proposed a draft of the propers for one Sunday, with the English antiphon texts set to music using the Gregorian Psalm tones. Jeffrey and I and a few others considered this model briefly, but almost immediately ruled it out as a viable option, primarily because of the conflict between the Latinate melodic structure of the Gregorian tones and the characteristic accent patterns of the English language. We decided that a better and more satisfying solution was needed.
After some more discussion, I presented an alternative approach to Jeffrey, which we both soon began to realize might be the most viable solution to the problem at hand.
I had recently read the proceedings of the 11th International Colloquium of CIEL (edited by Uwe Michael Lang and published by Hillenbrand Books in 2010) and began considering and experimenting with one of the proposals made there by Laszlo Dobszay (requiescat in pace). His proposal was that a small set of simple melodic formulas be used to set vernacular translations of the Proper of the Mass. In principle, this would allow for the many different texts of the Mass Proper to be sung to a handful of easily learned “tunes”, and make the sung proper accessible to parishes that have never sung it before.
I was very eager to study his settings, and saw the potential benefit of his approach. At the same time, many of my previous fears were confirmed. While most of his formulaic settings of Latin texts appeared to be done in a very beautiful and congruent way, a great deal of the settings of English texts were laden with incongruencies between the text and its melodic setting to such a degree that I began to wonder if the proposal could even yield reasonably satisfactory results.
I shared the settings with Dom Kelly, and he further articulated the concerns that I raised, repeating his long-held conviction that the melody of a chant must always be in service of the text, and, in some way, naturally grow out of it. He stressed that the melodic formulas of the Gregorian tradition were developed with the characteristics of the Latin language in mind, and he asserted firmly that if there is to be a satisfactory use of them with English texts, the melodic formulas themselves would have to be substantially adjusted, or even re-written.
SEP is Born
As I began to apply the melodic formulas to the English antiphon texts, I also began sharing them with Jeffrey and others in the CMAA, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Those who remember Jeffrey’s contagious enthusiasm and optimism, especially surrounding this project, realize that this is more than just a bit understated!
Effectively, all who were involved in this project almost immediately saw that the model that I had proposed was the right one, and so I proceeded to draft settings of the entire body of antiphons, Sunday by Sunday, with the weekly results being posted on Chant Cafe for review, feedback, and trial use.
When the book was finally published, it was sold at cost, as the CMAA had promised it would be during the fund-raising effort. In other words, the CMAA intentionally chose not to profit from sales of the book—and still hasn’t to this day—and the digital files were posted on the CMAA website for free download. This certainly was a sign of the sacrifice and goodwill of all who were involved in the project from the outset.
Shortly after this, Jeffrey Ostrowski of Corpus Christi Watershed began making recordings and YouTube videos of the antiphons of SEP on his own, at the request of Jeffrey Tucker. These videos were posted weekly at Chant Cafe, and, eventually, at the New Liturgical Movement. I am very grateful for this act of generosity on the part of Jeff Ostrowski, as I know that these videos were the gateway and introduction to the propers for many.
The Lumen Christi Hymnal is due out in the Fall of 2014, in addition to accompaniment editions for the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, and for Responsorial Psalms and Alleluias for Sundays and Feasts. The Lumen Christi Gradual also continues to develop, and draft scores can already be downloaded weekly at the Illuminare Score Library.
Before concluding, I would like to share some of the ways that the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual builds upon the experience gained from SEP, and how it opens up new possibilities for sung liturgy in ordinary parish life:
As I have noted before, SEP created great confusion for the faithful by choosing not to use the English translations of the antiphons as they are found in the Roman Missal, Third Edition, wherever this was possible. In order to lay the groundwork for the Lumen Christi Series, Illuminare Publications undertook an extensive project to translate the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum (e.g. the Offertory Antiphons), with professional translators, according to the principles and methods that were used to translate the antiphons of the Roman Missal itself. We worked in close consultation with those who actually made the translations in the Roman Missal, and took great pains to assure that the requirements of Liturgiam Authenticam were heeded. What resulted was a seamless translation between the new edition of the Roman Missal, and the Graduale Romanum, which is the Church’s primary source or the sung liturgy. These translations bear the episcopal imprimatur of Bp. Thomas J. Olmsted, and form the basis of the antiphon settings found in the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, Lumen Christi Missal, and forthcoming Lumen Christi Gradual.
Lasting Musical Settings
At the outset of this essay, I described the process of experimentation that was undertaken with the musical settings found in Simple English Propers. The chant settings that resulted from this effort varied in quality. After living with these settings for a few years now, I feel that about a third of the antiphons have a high musical integrity, a third are satisfactory but less than inspiring, and another third clearly sound as though a square peg was being forced into a round hole. While these musical settings have certainly helped parishes sing the proper texts, week after week, it is becoming clear that the chant settings are not wearing well over time. In order to remedy this, the antiphon settings in the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual (and full Gradual) are composed with a musical quality that fully respects the integrity and character of the text, all while remaining just as accessible, if not more so, than SEP.
Simple English Propers was intentionally designed as a resource for parish choirs and cantors to sing the proper antiphons week after week. In a sense, a parish has to fully jump into the ocean of the propers and must either swim or sink. Some have been able to swim, while others have gone through the discouragement of being unable to sustain this weekly demand. The Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, on the other hand, is laid out with this reality in mind. It makes use of the permissions and guidelines in the GIRM, Musicam Sacram, and in the Introduction of the Graduale Romanum (Ordo Cantus Missae) for parishes to begin introducing new musical settings seasonally, if needed, so that they can slowly being developing a repertoire of sung antiphons that can be repeated enough to be properly learned. The antiphon settings in the Simple Gradual are indeed simple, but they are through-composed, not formulaic, so that each setting is uniquely beautiful and will continue to inspire the faithful for years, even for decades and generations.
I remain grateful for the Simple English Propers project, and am extremely honored to have been able to play a part of this movement in the life of the Church. I am happy that the modest work is able to be shared freely and used by anyone, even if it has created confusion. I am even more excited about what lies ahead, though, and there is much more that could be mentioned here, but that I will be announced soon.
As it happens in life, so to it does in the Church: A tree must grow from a planted seed, and it will grow steadily and naturally, with the help of proper cultivation and care, even pruning when necessarily. Also, the tree can only be judged by its fruit, and its yield is unknown until a certain point of maturity.
I’m looking forward to being with all of the good people in the Florida CMAA chapter this week at the 6th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference, held at Ave Maria University.I’m particularly excited to have the opportunity to give a presentation on the Lum…
I am extremely excited to announce that the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, from Illuminare Publications, is now shipping! It can be ordered here in both Assembly and Choir Editions.The Lumen Christi Series is the work that I have been carrying sinc…
If you have been around the conversations within the Church Music Association of America for any length of time have, you have surely encountered discussion of an issue that manifests itself most often in the following question:
Why don’t the antiphons in Simple English Propers match the antiphons in our missalettes in the pews, and the ones in the Roman Missal?
(If I had a nickel for every time I have answered this question, I surely could be enjoying a comfortable retirement on a distant tropical island right now!)
The simple answer to the question is this: Simple English Propers sets to music the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum in English translation, while most popular publications (such as Magnificat, various hand missals, the ubiquitous disposable pew missals, etc.) usually print the antiphons of the Roman Missal. The antiphons of the Roman Missal and Graduale Romanum, while they are often the same, are in various cases different sets of proper texts. A neutral translation of the Graduale Romanum (from the Solesmes Gregorian Missal) was used in SEP, which could be freely shared online without copyright restriction, and as an unfortunate result, the Roman Missal translations were not used where the Missal and Graduale are in fact the same.
There are numerous further explanations and speculative analyses of the phenomenon of Roman Missal vs. Graduale Romanum propers, all of which can easily be found through a quick web search, and most of which are beyond the grasp, care or interest of those who are working in real-world, parish settings.
The conventional answer, common practice, and liturgical law
The conventional conclusion that the CMAA has maintained at for many years now is that when the 1969 Roman Missal was promulgated, the antiphons of the Roman Missal (including only the Entrance and Communion Antiphons, not the Offertory Antiphon) were intended to be spoken when the antiphon of the Graduale Romanum or Graduale Simplex was not sung. This distinction is clear in the rubrics of the universal law of the GIRM to this day.
The same rubrics, however, stated that “another suitable song” could be sung in place of the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum or Graduale Simplex, and we all know that this is the source of the proliferation of singing just about any kind of hymn or song at the Entrance, Offertory and Communion processions of the Mass in place of the antiphons that are appointed by the Church to be sung at these times.
Since we have never been given official, approved English translations of the Graduale Romanum, in practice, those who wished to sing proper antiphons in English defaulted to singing the approved translations found in the Roman Missal, and this practice has gone on for more than 40 years in certain locales in the English speaking world. In no way was this ever illicit, since the antiphons of the Roman Missal are perhaps among the best “other suitable songs” that can be imagined!
Because of the success of this practice, the Bishops of the United States of America voted to include the singing of the Roman Missal antiphons as part of the first option in the Roman Missal, Third Edition (see GIRM 48 and 87).
Thus, in particular law (which canonically trumps universal law) in the United States of America today, the antiphons of the Roman Missal form a part of the first option for the sung texts of the Entrance, Offertory and Communion processions, along side the antiphons and psalms of the Graduale Romanum, as set to music there or in another musical setting.
This is binding liturgical law for all faithful and obedient Catholics in the United States of America.
Roman Missal antiphons in Rome
It is striking to observe an unconventional but illustrative development in the papal liturgies in Rome this year: The Entrance Antiphon that is being sung in this year’s Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica is not the prescribed antiphon prescribed in the Graduale Romanum (which is Dilexisti iustitiam), but is the antiphon of the Roman Missal! Further, it appears to be in a newly composed, “neo-Gregorian” musical setting:
|H/T Steven van Roode, musicasacra.com/forum|
In fact, in a particular way, this effort is taking form in a brand new English chant resource that will begin shipping in two weeks.
It is the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, edited by myself, and published by Illuminare Publications (learn more here). This resource is the true successor and fulfillment of its predecessor, Simple English Propers (which also composed and edited by myself).
There is no other resource like this. It will be available in both Assembly and Choir editions, and it contains the fully sung Order of Mass in English, eighteen Mass Ordinaries in English and Latin chant, and a complete repertoire of simple English chant settings with texts that are drawn from the Church’s primary sources for the sung liturgy—the Graduale Romanum, Roman Missal, and Graduale Simplex—and arranged for successful parish use, according to prescripts of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Musicam Sacram, and Sacrosanctum Concilium.
The source translation that is used is the Roman Missal, Third Edition, and new translations have been made where they are needed (e.g. the Offertory Antiphons, among others), and approved for liturgical use by the USCCB Secretariat for Divine Worship and by episcopal imprimatur. This assures the greatest textual continuity between the texts of the Missal and Graduale, and accords with the requirements of Liturgiam Authenticam.
It is arranged with the needs of todays parishes in mind, and it builds not only upon the experience of the past 5 years, but also upon the wisdom of the past 50 years. The musical settings that the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual contains already form a part of the core repertoire of numerous parishes across the English-speaking world, and early online releases have helped hone and perfect the chant settings and their arrangement over the course of the past three years.
Often in parish life, the hustle and bustle of preparing for the Paschal Triduum overshadows the attention given to Palm Sunday, and particularly the various forms of the entrance procession. After all, are we sure the palms have been ordered? Is the s…
David Clayton, well regarded as a sacred artist and Artist-in-Residence and professor at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, has written an wonderful and detailed piece on his work in English chant psalmody at the Notre Dame Sacred Music blog.
Anyone who has sung Gregorian chant in addition to chant in English knows that the two are very different. The genius of the Gregorian tradition is its sensitive and masterful treatment of the Latin liturgical text, and it has done this so well that Pope St. Pius X named it the “supreme model for sacred music”—a sentiment that was reiterated at the Second Vatican Council and beyond.
The challenge of adapting this genius to vernacular languages is great, however, and some do not think that it can be done. I believe that it can, and so do the many who have seen some of the great successes of recent years in the area of English chant. There perhaps is still time for us to see which methods will be the most effective and long-lasting. Many of us have established our methods and convictions. The time has never been greater, though, to explore the possibilities in vernacular composition which making use of the Church’s great musical heritage as a point of inspiration and as a guide.
David Clayton has responded to the challenge in his own unique way. Here’s some of what he has to say about his task of composing psalm tones for use with English texts:
Adapting the Gregorian Psalms tones to English text is very difficult because the patterns of emphasis in the two languages are different: tones that flow naturally in Latin seem unnatural and awkward when forced onto English. I felt that in order to develop tones that could consistently be applied smoothly to all lines, I would do better to treat English as though it conformed more to its Germanic roots. This leads to a form of chant that tends much more towards having one note per syllable, which is called ‘syllabic’ chant. If you were to characterize one major difference between Latin and English, it would be that Latin floats on the vowels while English punches on the consonants. (When singing, choirs should be aware of this and make sure that they don’t punch so aggressively that they kill it!)
Those who delve deeply into what I have done will find that some tones have some simple neums of just two notes per syllable. However, even these cannot be universally applied without occasionally sounding awkward, so I had to develop a rule which allows the singers to decide whether to drop the second note depending on the flow of text at that point. The instruction on how and when to do that is in the score.
To begin adapting the melody, I analyzed the characteristics of the original tone that made it beautiful: is it melody or the rhythm, or aspects of both? In the end, I think it is the combination of the two, but I decided that I would focus first on melody and make my priority to retain the key melodic intervals. The rhythm of the tone does not emanate from the music first, but matches the rhythm of speech for each line of text. Therefore, I decided that the rhythmic pattern of the tone be dictated by the English language, which means that it will have a different rhythmic feel than its Latin root tone. Sometimes this method worked well, but other times the melodic phrasing is so closely linked to the rhythmic pattern of the original language that it does not carry over into English. In these cases it was necessary for the character of the tone to change partially. I found this particularly in the Mode VIII tones. In some cases I decided that I would have to go where the pattern of the English language was taking me and, in effect, compose new tones to fit it.
This process has to be more than a systematic process of adaptation. While what I have explained so far does sound somewhat coldly methodical, at the end of the process I always take a step back and ask myself if that particular tone “works”. When I hear it sung does this sound holy? Does it have goodness of form? Does it seem to participate in something that is universal to chant? From here, I modify the tone further based on these qualifications if needed.
You can read the rest there.
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