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Singing the Mass Antiphons: At Home and in Rome

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
It is interesting to note that the GIRM in force in Rome, and in every other diocese of the world outside of the US, does not list the antiphons of the Roman Missal—strictly speaking—as sung texts, but as spoken texts when the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum are not sung. It seems that Msgr. Guido Marini and Fr. Pierre Paul, among the other planners of papal liturgies, agree that the most suitable alternative to the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum and Graduale Simplex are the antiphons of the Roman Missal.
This raises another question for us to consider: Is it within the Church’s mind and within the bounds of the authentic spirit of the liturgy for additional proper antiphons to be added to the Church’s corpus of Gregorian chant? 
“Neo-Gregorian” chant propers have been composed throughout the centuries, and many exist in the Graduale Romanum today (such as the chants for the more recent feasts of Christ the King, Corpus Christi, the Immaculate Conception, among others). This idea was heavily frowned upon around the time of the council, when the work and research of Dom Eugene Cardine and the Semiological school was coming to an end, which brought the 100-year chant restoration project of Solesmes to point of near completion. 
Today, however, chant scholarship is in a place of stability and scholars are in virtual agreement across the globe on what constitutes the authentic Gregorian chant tradition. Is the time right for a slow, gradual and organic development of the chant tradition, as we are perhaps seeing happen in St. Peter’s Basilica this year—one that would in no way supplant the authentic Gregorian chant corpus, but would enrich and expand it, taking its secrets and genius and applying it to new compositions both in Latin and in various vernaculars?
I think that the answer is yes. And I am not alone in thinking this.
The successor to Simple English Propers

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.

Accompaniment editions are currently in preparation, and pre-publication digital editions are now available online every week for free download.
This is the next installment of the ever-developing Lumen Christi Series, which is a complete parish sacred music program. Be sure to sign up for updates and future announcements here.
I’m very excited to be able to present this new resource to the Church, in addition to the growing, organized effort that is developing behind, it to the parishes of the English speaking world. More information will soon follow on other exciting developments and initiatives. For now, let us look forward with hopeful anticipation of the future of liturgical renewal that lies ahead!



Music for the Three Palm Sunday Entrances

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 on English Psalm Tones

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.

Chant Settings of the Lenten Gospel Acclamation

The Church is nine days away from burying the Alleluia for the Season of Lent, and most parishes will sing in its place the Verse Before the Gospel as it is found in the Lectionary, paired with a Lenten Gospel Acclamation.It may be a nice opportunity t…

"Much has been done, but there remains much still to do"

Today in a press conference the Holy See announced the symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium: Gratitude and commitment for a great ecclesial movement”, organized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments which will take place five days from now, February 18-20, in Rome. The symposium will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Cardinal Canizares Llovera, who was appointed prefect of the CDWDS by Pope Benedict in 2008 and confirmed by Pope Francis in this role in December, was quoted heavily in the report:

Cardinal Canizares commented that the [Second Vatican] Council was “an invitation to the Church to be herself, as God wished her to be and created her, and to act in a manner coherent with her vocation and with the mission that God Himself has given her. … With this beginning, which focuses on the theme of the Liturgy, the emphasis is unequivocally placed on the primacy of God in the Church; God first of all. … When God is not in first place, everything else loses its way”. 

The Vatican Council II Fathers demonstrated this priority first by approving the Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, clarifying that “worship comes first; God comes first. Therefore, beginning with the theme of the Liturgy, the Council explicitly turned attention to God’s primacy and at the same time indicated it as a sure point of orientation for the path to be followed in the future”. 

With regard to “gratitude” and “commitment”, the prelate added, “We must, indeed, thank God for this first fruit of the Council … not only for the Constitution itself, but also for the renewing dynamism of the Church that it has given rise to, and continues to provide. At the same time, urgent commitment on our part to the continuation and deepening of the liturgical renewal hoped for by the Vatican Council II is now called for. It is true that much has been done, but there remains much still to do”. 

[...]

[Emphasis added]. The full report can be read here.
This news comes only two days after the new Vatican initiative “Sacred Music: Fifty Years after the Council” was first reported. It seems that the document [you can download it here], was first released on December 17, 2013, the day following Cañizares’ confirmation by Pope Francis. It is addressed to the Episcopal Conferences, Major Religious Institutes, and Theological Faculties of the world, and includes a 40-question survey on the state of sacred music in the past 50 years, followed by a profoundly rich theological framework for the proper understanding of the music of the liturgy. Responders have until April 30, 2014 to submit their response. 
The initiative, put forth jointly by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Pontifical Council for Culture, has the aim of “reflecting on the developments in the field of music and the desire to offer a contribution to the ministry of musicians for the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful.”
Reading this document brings to mind a reorganization of the CDWDS by Pope Benedict in 2011 with the motu proprio Quaerit simper, which, according to a report at the time, had the aim of freeing up the congregation for a greater promotion of the sacred liturgy, particularly through the establishment of a “Liturgical Art and Sacred Music Commission”. 
Many of us had high hopes for this commission, but no news ever came on any specific initiatives from it. And then we had the abdication of Pope Benedict a year later, followed by the election of Pope Francis, and a period of uncertainty as to nature the work of the Vatican in regard to the promotion of the liturgy.
That is, until now.
It now seems likely that this commission has been hard at work all along. Perhaps the unexpected papal transition held back its work a bit. It only took one day, though, following the confirmation of Canizares by Pope Francis, for the release of this new document on sacred music. And with Francis’ emphasis on liturgical catechesis in these past few days, and now with the announcement the symposium on Sacrosanctum Concilium, it seems that the long-awaited work of the commission is finally taking flight. 
Sacred Music: Fifty Years after the Council is monumental, and it must be read by anyone who is concerned about the continued renewal of the sacred liturgy in the life of the Church. In particular, the “Accompanying Text” at the very end must be closely studied, even read before the questionnaire itself, which itself reads like a kind of examination of conscience for the Church universal after 50 years of experience following the Second Vatican Council.
The theological framework at the conclusion of this document, given in seven articles, is the most elaborate and articulate writing on the topic of sacred music given by the Church since Musicam Sacram of 1967.
It has no need to repeat the words of the Vatican documents of the 20th century, from Tra le sollecitudini to Sacrosanctum Concilium to Musicam Sacram to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and it doesn’t repeat them.
This new initiative gets to the heart of the reason why, perhaps, the Church’s vision for sacred music has not been more fully realized, even 50 years after it was concretely established in the Church’s mind and teaching in ecumenical council.
The heart of the matter is the formation of liturgical musicians
I would like to put forth the following prediction: Following Sacred Music: Fifty Years after the Council the universal Church will receive a Roman document with concrete guidelines and expectations regarding the education and formation of liturgical musicians. This will include not only musical and artistic formation for those who plan to serve the liturgy in this capacity, but it will also include a deep theological, sacramental, and spiritual formation, as is required by anyone who seeks to be thoroughly imbued by the spirit of the liturgy.
What exactly will the “contribution to the ministry of musicians” by the CDWDS and Pontifical Council for Culture be? We will have to wait and see. There seems to be great hope, though, that the future of authentic liturgical is as bright as ever.

What is the Mass?

Fr. Douglas Martis, director of The Liturgical Institute, offers a powerful reflection:

Everytime I’m at Mass, I can’t help but think that we have the most beautiful, poetic prayer possible, but if what we say does not resonate in our hearts, then it is empty and meaningless.
It is lip service.

There are three things that we must always remember:
1. Who God is.
2. Who we are.
3. What Mass is. 

WHO IS GOD? Thinkers have for centuries tried to describe, to put into words what God is like. 

What is especially unique to Christianity is that we believe in a triune God, a Trinity who is a relationship of persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Everyone knows St. Patrick’s image for the Trinity: the clover leaf. 

Pope Benedict describes the Trinity as a song of love. He says that essential to God is the quality of communication, communion.

The Trinity is a dialogue, an eternal song of love. And what is song but a combination of word and breath. Here we have the most perfect word: Jesus. And the sweetest breath, the Holy Spirit. 

WHO ARE WE? Another thing that we have got to remember, that we often forget, is that WE NEED NOT BE. 

We are contingent.
We do not have to exist. 

It is only God who keeps us in existence at every moment. And that is something we ought to be grateful for all the time. 

WHAT IS THE MASS? Why do we have Mass? What’s its purpose? We answer this question at every Mass. At the Orate fratres, we say the purpose of Mass: For the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church. 

That’s it. We come to Mass to praise God (for what he’s done for us in Christ—and for keeping us in existence) and to pray for our needs (ultimately that we will be united with him forever in heaven). The Mass isn’t so much about what we can get out of it, but what we give in praise to God.

Here’s more about the Liturgical Institute:

A Sense of the Sacred: Benedict, Francis, and the Liturgy

Today marks the one-year anniversary since the abdication of the Chair of St. Peter by Pope Benedict XVI. This event came as a shock, especially to those of us who had been working so hard in the liturgical apostolate during the past pontificate, and who excitedly followed the Holy Father’s lead and example daily.

When the Pope announced that he would be stepping down, and we soon realized that there would be a conclave within a matter of weeks, a certain anxiety began to set in.

Would his successor carry on according to the same mind? Some optimists thought that the resignation effectively doubled the life of Benedict’s papacy.

Would his successor somehow reverse the legitimate progress made by Benedict XVI? This latter concern, it must be admitted, struck many of us between the eyes when we saw Papa Bergolio step out on the balcony for the first time. Something didn’t seem to be quite right. Signs were indicating that significant changes could be looming.

And changes definitely have come.

Pope Francis has been a worldwide sensation, and he clearly is setting an example for the Church on what it means to roll up your sleeves and be the New Evangelization.

But is Pope Francis’ style and approach to the papacy a rejection of Pope Benedict’s focus on the dignity and sacredness  of the liturgy?

After being with Francis for nearly a year now, and in light of his recent encyclical and daily reflections, we can most certainly say that it is not.

This can be seen most clearly in Pope Francis’ papal liturgies. Sure, there are things that strike us as odd after seeing the grand ceremonial and ars celebrandi of Pope Benedict XVI, such as the plain vestments, black shoes, lack singing from the priest celebrant, among other curiosities.

But there is something that we haven’t seen in Francis’ celebration of the Mass that some might have expected.

Where is Francis’ palpable joy? Where is his glowing smile? Where is the Pope Francis that we all know and love, jumping out of his Ford Focus to kiss babies and to greet the poor?

Where is the Pope Francis who once said in a daily homily that “Often Christians behave as if they were going to a funeral procession rather than to praise God”. Or, similarly, that “We aren’t used to thinking about Jesus smiling, joyful. Jesus was full of joy, full of joy… Joy is true peace: not a static peace, quiet, tranquil. Christian peace is a joyful peace, because our Lord is joyful.”

Shouldn’t we be seeing the bubbly Pope Francis during his celebration of the liturgy that we see in the news and all over the web?

Perhaps some think that we should. But we don’t.

Watch any papal liturgy to see the stark contrast to this image. You will find a man with a stone cold face, breathing heavily, almost panting and appearing in discomfort, speaking the prayers of the Mass softly and without much definition, gazing almost aimlessly upward and and then with eyes closed in contemplative prayer. You will also hear sacred music that is more solemn and beautiful than we ever heard it under Pope Benedict.

Why do we not see this Pope Francis when he celebrates the Mass?

This is the evangelizing Pope Francis, radiant with the joy of the gospel; the image that Time Magazine and Rolling Stone like to portray.
Why the contrast? Why isn’t the Pope making the news in his celebration of the Mass? Why aren’t news crews lining up outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, awaiting the Pope’s newest liturgical innovation in service of the gospel? Certainly this could be happening. But it is not.
Pope Francis explained why this is not happening during his homily yesterday, as he spoke of the importance of the “sense of the sacred” in the liturgy. He said: 

“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us [a] ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible… The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power… He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”

(Emphasis added)

This echos the statement of the Pope in his recent enyclical, Evangelii Gaudium:

“Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving.”

The effect evangelization has on the liturgy is different from the role of evangelization on the street corner. The joy of the Gospel, as it is spread in the happenings of daily life, becomes something entirely different when it enters the liturgical sphere for Pope Francis. It is not chaos, it is not feverish elation, it is not unbridled energy and glowing smiles of happiness.

In the Eucharistic liturgy, according to Francis, we enter a different realm: A realm where evangelization with joy becomes beauty, where a life of private devotion leads into a participation in the “theophany”, where we “really enter into the mystery of God” and “allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery”.

This dichotomy is clear in the life of Pope Francis. He clearly is in the world, but is not of the world.

In the liturgy, the Church steps out of the realm of the world, and steps into the realm of the sacred, where there is true, substantial, and transcendent contact with the divine. This is as true for Pope Francis as it was to Pope Benedict, and remains equally true for the entire Church – as it always has been and as it always will be.

The gaze on the face of those who fully and actively participate in the sacred mysteries of the liturgy is one of contemplation. It is the face as it is portrayed in an icon, not on the cover of Time Magazine. It is the face that encounters the real, substantial and beautiful presence of Christ. It is not a face of gloom or misery; it is not the face of a Christian lacking joy. It is the face of a Christian who’s joy is complete.

The continued work of bringing a sense of the sacred into our parishes and dioceses is not over, one year following the abdication of Pope Benedict. In many ways it is only beginning.

Pope Francis is showing us that beauty in the liturgy is central to, though distinct from, the task of evangelization. As the source and summit of the life of the Church, without the liturgy the Church would have no source for its missionary zeal. The world is hungry for Christ, and it is hungry for beauty – The world is hungry for the liturgy, beautifully celebrated.

This is why we must continue our diligent work in the liturgical apostolate. The success of the New Evangelization depends upon it.

This is why efforts for the renewal of sacred music have continued, and are gaining momentum. It is what is driving efforts like the Lumen Christi Series, which will is about to see the addition of the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, the natural successor and fulfillment of Simple English Propers. These efforts must continue, and the work on the ground in parish life must continue, and they are continuing. Signs of this are all around us.

As today we remember the legacy of the great liturgical pope, let’s be reinvigorated by its mission. Pope Francis is depending on Pope Benedict’s achievements in liturgical renewal – this could not be more clear.

As Benedict once said, and surely would Francis agree: “Concern for the the proper form of worship…is not peripheral but central to our concern for man himself” (Feast of Faith, p. 7). If evangelization with joy is to be successful, we must worship God well, we must allow beauty in the liturgy to transform, and we must draw our missionary zeal from its true source. Let’s not let the work of liturgical renewal slip away – let’s carry forward the work that Pope Benedict has begun, and that Pope Francis is relying upon.

More Choral Propers from Frank La Rocca

Composer Frank La Rocca is continuing his magnificent project in English Choral Propers with three new pieces for Lent, Holy Week, and Easter – all of which are available for free download for a limited time from Illuminare Publications.You can pr…

Presentation of the Lord: Free English Chant Downloads for This Sunday

This year we will experience liturgical feasts and solemnities in an unusually powerful way. Unless we are regular daily Mass goers, most of us rarely encounter the Presentation of the Lord, the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, the Triumph of the Cross, the Feast of All Souls, and the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

But this year these all fall on a Sunday, and therefore trump the the Sundays in Ordinary Time that would otherwise be celebrated.

This Sunday, for example, will not be the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Church universal will instead celebrate the Presentation of the Lord, and will have an opportunity to engage parishioners in the iconic and ancient blessing of candles and procession before Mass.

The 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal offers some of the chants for the procession, both in Gregorian chant and in a few English chant adaptations.

Illuminare Publications is happy to offer a digital edition for free download, that contains all of the chants for this liturgy, including the ones that the Roman Missal leaves out.

Additionally, you will find the full Proper of the Mass in simple English chant settings, utilizing the new translation of the Roman Missal, in both cantor/choir and accompaniment editions.

You can download them here:

PRESENTATION OF THE LORD (free download)

Cantor/Choir Edition        Accompaniment Edition

This is an example of the pre-publication releases that are available weekly from Illuminare Publications. These editions interface completely with the Lumen Christi Missal, and are samples from forthcoming titles in the Lumen Christi Series. Learn more »

For the latest updates on this exciting project, you can visit illuminarepublications.com, or signup for the Illuminare mailing list.

O Magnum Mysterium, Frank La Rocca

The O magnum mysterium is a one of the most beloved ancient Christmas texts in the Christian tradition. It is properly found in the liturgy as a responsory for Matins of Christmas, but through the choral settings of Victoria, Palestrina, Poulenc, and – perhaps most popularly in our time – Morten Lauridsen, it has become a standard part of the Christmas choral repertoire, especially for Midnight Mass.

Composer Frank La Rocca has now given the Church a setting of his own, which powerfully penetrates the mystery of the incarnation. It is not overly flashy or florid, but is pregnant with mystery and humility, much like text which it carries. His O magnum surely will surely be regarded among the greats for years to come.


O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, 
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio! 
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia.

O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

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