Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Simple Propers for the Second Sunday of Advent

Download them here

I am very grateful for the patience of those who have been waiting for Simple Propers for the Advent Season. I feel very badly about cutting it so close with this week's offering. My apologies. Our goal (and I am working with two other contributors on the final product) is to have the rest of the Advent Season done and available by the end of this week, and to have much of the Christmas Season done by the end of next week. I realize that this is still not ideal, but I am very appreciative to all who have taken the leap to begin using these settings in liturgy. Your feedback has been invaluable, and the "beta" phase of this project has truly helped form and polish this collection so that it will best meet the needs of musicians out in the real world of parish liturgy.

A few notes this week:

-The full "Glory Be" has been removed from the end of the Introit. Now we only have the first words "Glory be to the Father...". While this doxology is known pretty well by most Catholics it still may not be easily sung from memory by all. We will have the full "Glory Be" notated in square notes in every psalm tone in the back of the book for people to reference when they need to, much like our current Graduale. You can find the "Glory Be" sheet here for your future use.

-The "Glory Be" has also been suggested for use at the end of the Communion chant, according to the rubrics of the Ordo Cantus Missae, 1988.

-We are now indexing the Simple Propers as they are being produced for the final edition on the CMAA website, musicasacra.com. You can always go to this page for the newest updates and for the most recent versions of Simple Propers editions. I hope that we will see this page begin to rapidly fill up in the coming weeks and months!

Many blessings to you all in this Advent Season!

UPDATE: Here are the Simple Meinrad Tone Antiphon Settings

The "Klein Graduale"

The inestimable Steven van Roode, a brilliant chant resource typesetter and engraver in the Netherlands who has given us Creative Commons chant editions of the post-conciliar Office has launched a new project:

Introducing the Klein Graduale.

The Klein Graduale is an adaptation of the Graduale Simplex in the Dutch language for use in the Dioceses of the Netherlands. You can view the scores for the Advent Season here, and the Christmas season here.

Steven has told me that the parish Bergen op Zoom, the very church where Jacob Obrecht worked, has plans to begin introducing sung propers using this resource and he hopes to post recordings of this online as well.

It is truly wonderful to see what is happening in the chant movement outside of the US. I hope that Steven will keep us informed of all of the exciting happenings in Breda.

Simple Propers: Booklet for the "Glory Be"

Here is a booklet that contains the "Glory be to the Father..." doxology in all eight modes for use with the Introit and Communion chants of the Simple English Propers Project.

We have decided to eliminate the reprinting of the Glory be text at the end of each Introit and instead will simply place the words "Glory be to the Father..." and the singer will be referred to the Glory be tones which will be found in the back of the book. This will save space and might also help demonstrate how the tones are to be sung, being that they are presented in full notation, much like the Gloria Patri tones in the back of our Graduale Romanum.

Please keep this on hand if you will be singing the Simple Propers from now on. Of course most will end up singing these from memory, but the sheet is here for your reference.

Note: Look for Simple Propers for the Second Sunday of Advent today, the rest of the Advent Season by the end of the week, and most of the Christmas Season by the end of next week.

The Grail Psalter's Surprise Showing

Last February (it seems like years ago), InsideCatholic ran my article called Pay to Pray: The Church's Simony Problem. Based on years of thought and research, I took aim at the practice of using civil law to maintain legal exclusivity to liturgical texts and charge for their use. It works like a tax for evangelization. The practice not only contradicts Christian experience and ethics, I argued; it might be classified as a form of simony.

A primary example concerns the secret dealings over the Revised Grail Psalter. Relatively few people have actually seen this book; it has not been published. But if it so happened to land in my hands and I posted it on this blog, I would be hearing from the GIA - the agent that manages international rights on this book - in about 20 minutes. If I didn't take it down, I would hear from lawyers. If I didn't respond after that, I would probably face a DMCA attack from the government. Regardless of the merits of the book, I find it deeply regrettable that the U.S. Bishops seemed to have embraced it for liturgical use.

I've written many articles on this entire topic, but I've dropped the topic recently because it would appear that the Grail will not be introduced for the Responsorial Psalm text in the Roman Rite anytime within the next decade.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday, composer Paul Innwood notes in a comment box that the Leaked Missal, or what is being called the Moroney Missal, seems to have relied on the Revised Grail for the re-rendering of the approved Missal proper texts submitted to Rome. To what extent we cannot know because we do not have a copy of the Revised Grail; it has not yet leaked. Thanks to other internet leaks, however, we do have a copy of the Gray Book submitted by the conferences and the leaked Missal, with its legendary 10,000 plus changes, from the CDW, and it is clear that the texts of the propers are very different. I had assumed that it was some committee doing what committees do, which is mostly make a mess of things, but perhaps there was a purpose for the changes after all.

In other words, the Revised Grail seems to have made an early appearance in the newly translated Missal, the one we will be using one year from now. What this implies about royalties, copyrights, permissions, or other dealings between interested parties is pure speculation at this point. But we can be sure that such speculations are going to be rampant in the coming weeks, and the search for more evidence will continue.

Monday, November 29, 2010

(Super Short) Primer on Music for the New Missal

The Propers: The priority for music at entrance, offertory, and communion are the propers of the Mass. The new Missal contains new translations of the propers. We still do not know what these will be. For years people supposed that they would be based on the Vulgate and those texts were stable since 2008. Suddenly, with the posting of a pirated version of the Missal, we discover that they might be based on the New Vulgate, which contradicts Liturgiam's rules for translation. In any case, what is important for the choir is that none of this matters. You can sing any translation or you can use the Mass propers from the Roman Gradual, which are better in any case. There are many English editions already online and these will continue to be suitable. This site in cooperation with the CMAA is sponsoring a new set of simple propers and these will be ready in time. Most parishes should start with these. Final judgment here: The new Missal offers opportunities, not mandates.

The Dialogues: If your parish uses English, use the Missal versions of these chants. This pertains to all dialogues, including all Amens and the Mystery of Faith. I would strongly recommend against using any musical settings of the dialogues that come pre-packaged with "Mass settings." There is no need for these to somehow match the ordinary of the Mass.This also goes for the Sprinkling Rite: Asperges outside of Easter and Vidi Aquam (or their English equivalent) in Paschal time. Can we please work to restore these traditional texts and melodies, and, at the very least, the distinction between the two chants? Final judgment here: sing what is in the Missal.

The Mass Ordinary:  Again, the Missal chants should be the first and foundational choice of any parish. Going beyond them should usually mean moving to Latin. If the parish is not ready for that, consider these English adaptions of chant. If you want to stick with mainstream publishers, I'm personally impressed with the solemnity of The Mass of Grace by Lisa Stafford from World Library Publications. There are other polyphonic ordinaries appearing in the month ahead, which should be very interesting. Final judgment: you can get by with the Missal but there are many opportunities for progress here.

The Psalms: These will not change. The Revised Grail has been approved but probably won't be implemented for another decade. I strongly suggest that you use Chabanel. They will continue to be valid and beautiful.

The Sung Readings: Again, there are no changes to the text here. You can sing the readings using existing resources.

Links for Xtreme Liturgy Geeks Only

Some people might find it instructive to compare the Roman Missal propers and orations as they stood at the first of this year (Proper of Seasons and Proper of Saints) with how they ended up at the end of the summer. And here is a compendium of Gray Book antiphons.

The Order of Mass, South Africa

In case someone misses it, here is the order of Mass from South Africa. My only question concerns "Christ has died" which I thought that the CDW had rejected. It does not exist in the U.S. version.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Heaps of Praise on Willan

This morning, first Sunday of Advent, we once again pulled out Willan with great results. It was a glorious entrance. I'm coming to the point with this book of just trusting that whatever is in here is great music and works time and again.

As the conductor, I had tempo issues with this at first, but if you go through it enough times and let the text dictate the results, it ends up right. Obviously, ignoring the silly time signature, such as it is, is a must.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An investment in the future of responsorial psalms

When first I browsed through the Chabanel Psalm Project, I typically afforded it only the critic’s eye and ear. If I randomly listened to a setting by Arlene Oost-Zinner, Brian Michael Page or Jeffrey Ostrowski, that critic inside me simply measured value by wondering “Where are the hooks, or the melodic or harmonic nuances, or an over-all “style” that sets them apart from the standard?” The standard? Well, in most cases that would mean OCP’s “Respond and Acclaim” or WLP’s equivalent- the functional, durable vehicle that simply gets one from here to there. So, responsorials, to a veteran critic, are like a mid-size sedan. A Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata- they’ll all get you to and fro reliably.
Over the course of a few years, having read and listened to the wisdom and passionate discussion of our mentors such as William Mahrt about responsorial psalms and graduals, having heard absolutely majestic interpretations of psalm versicles by Mary Ann Carr Wilson, Ostrowski, and newly minted teen age soloisti scholas at colloquia, et cetera, I’ve come to realize “reliable” does not serve either the Word or the Faithful the full measure of beauty and justice both deserve within our liturgies. Though I would never deride the venerable Owen Alstott for providing a serviceable body of psalm settings in R&A, settings such as “This is the day the Lord has made…” or “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew….” seem clearly to be too convenient, especially after decades of use. Make no mistake, many people, both lay and cleric, adhere to this ethos of convenience strongly and with good-hearted intent. But, with the significant turning point of a revised Roman Missal soon to be upon us in the U.S. (it is upon the Kiwi’s this very day, as Adam Bartlett celebrates) it is time to consider whether convenience should be the sole determinant when choosing psalm settings?

I’m going to dispose of one consideration up front: should a responsorial function equally well accompanied or a capella? Well, yes, obviously. But though either of the Alstott examples above can “succeed” without accompaniment, I wonder if their value is diminished by maintaining a strict rhythmic performance? I think yes, that was a built-in factor and intent. Were I to have the occasion to lead a capella Alstott settings, I’d likely enchant the melodies away from their noted value for declamation’s sake alone. In addition, there remains a mandate that calls musicians towards “chant” in the first place. So, do you “chantify” a song-like setting, or opt for a setting whose intent was centered within the chant ideal from the incept?

Let’s take a look and listen to Jeffrey Ostrowski’s setting of Psalm 24 for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the promotion selection accompanying the debut of the printed volume Psalter: “Let the Lord enter; He is the King of Glory.”

There ought not be any contention over whether the melody, either in neumes or notes, is inspired by the principles of chant. This melody, to my eyes and ears, compliments the text in subtle and graceful movement- “Let the Lord enter…” rises as if the command were accompanied by the motion of a hand extended in invitation, with the slightest of repose at the “enter” with the upper neighbor tone on the first syllable descending a minor third. And even though whether one would argue that the melody (with accompaniment) employs a tonal center or not (I think not,) the F# mid-cadence does seem to function in a 7-1 manner that leads to and moves directly into the antecedent phrase “He is the King of Glory.” And the same note, F#, functioning as the third of the cadential D Major chord, is approached from below and is no longer transitory but stable.
Harmonically, Jeff Ostrowski uses self-described walking bass lines in the response, which isn’t uncommon in metrical settings, but he sketches the pedal lines in such a way as to keep the voice and ear anchored away from strict meter. And I love how he establishes cadential stability with a chord in first inversion in the accompaniment. No wonder Barber shoppers call that ending chord “the sweet chord.” He also doesn’t venture too far into choral ambiguity. He uses minor and major seventh chords with discretion, and as an integral coloration within the melodic and bass note foundations.
I also love how his verse settings allow the Psalmist to apply as much “bel canto” to the text as might be desired.

So, I’m going to invest much more personal interest in folding the Chabanel settings into our parish Masses here in Central California. We’ll use them in two specific Masses, the Vigil where Wendy and I cantor and accompany ourselves and the Sunday morning schola Mass, and we’ll hopefully enable those two congregations to experience more chanted opportunities other than portions of the ordinaries, and specific propers, sequences and hymns.

Simple Propers: Offertory for Advent 1

From the Simple Propers Project. We hope to generate a file like this for every single chant in the book.

The New Translation Has Taken Effect!

As I write, at 9:00AM this Saturday morning, Mountain Standard Time for us in the US on the last day of the Church year, Advent has already begun for our friends in New Zealand. And this is no ordinary First Sunday of Advent for them.

New Zealand has already implemented the new translation of the Roman Missal.

I am told by a priest friend and fellow summer student at the Liturgical Institute who is a pastor in Christchurch that the new translation of the Order of Mass only is being implemented. The rest of the texts remain in the 1973 translation. A missalette has been produced that contains all of the new texts which are used by people and priest alike.

I hope to get a full report on how things went to share on the Chant Café. So far there are no reports of riots or any other apocalyptic occurrences. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in New Zealand let us rejoice in this beginning of a new era of liturgical renewal in the English speaking world!

Should We Applaud in Church?

Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote the following on applause in Church:

“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. ” (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198)

Fr. Zuhlsdorf quoted this back to an inquiry concerning applause at Church.

This is precisely right and it is a serious problem. I doubt that any choir that uses a loft does not face this applause problem. A choir that is singing in front of the people will tend to elicit the kind of judgment from people that is rendered in a concert setting. People will want to express their appreciation, forgetting that the purpose of the singing and performing is not entertainment but worship.

Another problem to applause - and this applies even for the applause sometimes given to visiting dignitaries and the like - is that it is an audible distraction from worship. It creates an unmistakably "earthly" sound that just does not belong in the liturgical environment.

Musicians are enormously flattered by applause and if our schola every did receive such a thing, I would likely be inwardly very pleased, while at the same time I would be certain that something had gone very wrong.

I would suggest one exception to this. A great organist will often play a long postlude following Mass. It is polite to stay and listen to this, and it is fine to applaud at the finish. This is long after Mass has ended and the liturgy has come to a close.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Rhythm Debate: Rather Serious Back Then

From Ceacilia 1933

Thursday, November 25, 2010

St. Cecilia Sang the Psalms

From Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke:

One imagines that she was praying the words of the Psalms according to the ancient chant of the Church, which developed organically from the chant used in Jewish worship and continues today to be singularly suited to the raising of our minds and hearts to the Lord.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beautiful article on the new missal

You will find it in InsideCatholic

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pachelbel's Vespers Service

I was absolutely delighted to hear in concert the Deus in Adjutorium from the larger Vespers service by Johann Pachelbel. The performers were the Howard Payne University Concert Choir directed by Monte Garrett. I had no idea that this composition even existed. It was as delightful as any Vespers I've ever heard, and had me on on the edge of my seat from the first to the last.

In my own mind, I imagined the liturgical context for this piece, remembering that this was written to be a form of public prayer of a very special sort. The Baroque sound and technique must have been an amazing revelation for that generation, as the building out of the Gregorian tradition proceeded at a breakneck pace. The chant of course is what made this tradition possible. It certainly would never have come about without the core material as provided by the chant: its text, its musical structure, and its liturgical purpose.

I heard in this music ebullient expressions of hope for humanity, reflective of the rising prosperity, the greater chances for everyone, even the lowest peasants, to enjoy a better life and advance materially and socially. What a time it must have been, a singular moment in history. The religious wars had ended. The world was trading. Human rights were advancing. Plagues and disease were abating. In so many ways, Catholicism helped usher it in and promised to lead civilization into a brighter future. These hopes are expressed by the lightness and orderliness of the compositions here.

In our own times, this music expresses the same but the hope we hear is broader, not just of a better material life but of a better mode of living in every respect. Pachelbel knew nothing of the horrors of the last century, but the sweetest of his compositions still point the way, through the public prayer of the Church, to a special kind of beauty that transcends time and exists within the transcendent realm that liturgical exists and to touch and reveal to us. We hear even in the relatively barren realm of the concert hall.

Everyone who longs for better art in liturgy has attended a concert of this type of music and left with a sense of sadness for its banishment from its rightful home and setting in the Catholic Church. I've gotten used to this sense of sadness for decades.

But last night, and for the first time, I did not feel that. I had a sense of hope toward the liturgical progress in our time. This music is now making its return to its home. We no longer need to feel a sense of loss. Given everything that is taking place in the liturgical world of Catholicism, we can change our outlook and know that the work we do - through practice, prayer, and wise management - will be fulfilled in our own time.

Pachelbel's Vespers can come home again and live again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

In Praise of Dies Irae

Msgr. Charles Pope offers a challenging interpretation of this great and brilliant sequence for the Requiem Mass, which ought to be sung at any Roman Rite funeral.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chant Method of Fr. Columba Kelly Released into the Commons

I am very excited to announce that Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, monk of St. Meinrad Archabbey and Gregorian chant scholar has released the third chapter of his book "Gregorian Chant Intonations and Role of Rhetoric" into the common domain for all to benefit from. You can download it here.

The "Gregorian Chant Intonations..." book is essentially broken into two sections. The first is a study of the melodic verbal contexts of Gregorian chant intonations, and the second half is Fr. Kelly's working "manual" of Gregorian chant interpretation and practice. The methodology laid out in this chapter is the basic content of his chant seminars that are offered regularly at St. Meinrad and across the country.

The Church Music Association of America has been very generous in making available to all in the past few years digital editions of chant manuals and guides from the first half of the 20th century. How wonderful it is now to have this resource freely available from a contemporary voice who can add to the great tradition that has been handed down to us with many of the most recent insights in the world of Gregorian chant scholarship.

Thank you Fr. Kelly for showing us that chant instructional materials do not have to go into the public domain before they can be shared freely with all!

If anyone would like to buy a printed copy of the entire book you can do so here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Consistory Liturgy and its Music

Here is the video that reveals a substantial amount of Roman polyphony, and here is the program.

Jeffrey Ostrowski's Psalms in Print

This has been a long-time coming but finally they are available: Ostrowski's own contribution to the Chabanel Psalms in bound volumes for singer, organist, and congregation. You find them to be solemn, beautiful, and singable. They are actually affordable.

This is extremely interesting in so many ways:

Englishing the Bible

Ronald Knox’s translation of the Bible is one of those things: either you love it or you hate it. In 1936, the Bishops of England and Wales asked this famous convert and literary man to translate the Scriptures from the Vulgate with an eye to the original languages. His New Testament came out in 1945 and the Old followed five years later. Its use was allowed for the Mass from 1965 to the early 1970s, making it one of the few translations approved for liturgical use which bridged the gap between the post-conciliar adjustments of what we now call the Extraordinary Form and the Novus Ordo.

I use the Knox translation when I double the readings in English at the EF, and for my private prayer. I hope one day someone will reprint a hand missal that uses the Knox version, so I can put it in my pews someday. I am a fan, but I do recognize that it is not everyone’s cup of tea!

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Knox is that he wrote a little tome called Englishing the Bible in 1949 on the eve of the publication of his Old Testament. Some of it is self-defense against criticisms. But he also includes his thoughts on translation in general and why he went about things the way he did. I find it as fascinating as his Bible itself, and I only wish that the translators of the Septuagint, the King James Version and St Jerome had all written something similar.

What I want to do here is to re-produce some quotes from this little book with scant commentary. Now, I want to say from the outset that the reason for this article is not some kind of a veiled criticism against the current ICEL texts of the Mass nor of the Received Text or the Grey Book of the in-process English translation of the Roman Missal. I just find it interesting. Since I made my pocket money through the seminary by translating texts, and am now translating texts from Latin, French, Spanish, Italian and German into English as part of my dissertation, I am constantly faced with the same challenges with which Knox was faced on a daily basis. Of course, my dissertation will gather dust on a shelf of the University of Navarre. The Bible and the Missal are very different animals.

I also find that a lot of the acerbic discussion on the new translations has less to do with philology and translation methods than it does with the practical consequences of competing views of ecclesiology. Knox’s translation aroused much spirited debate, but I am not aware of anyone threatening apostasy or predicting the universal collapse of the Church in the English-speaking world because of it. It was also the casualty of the post-conciliar obsession with making everything new and different. Dare I suggest that the hermeneutic of continuity could be served by offering the Knox translation as an option for the OF Lectionary? But I digress.

Here are some fascinating quotes, for what they are worth.

“The great principle [Belloc] lays down is that the business of the translator is not to ask, ‘How shall I make this foreigner talk English?’ but ‘What would an Englishman have said to express this’?”
p. 4

One notes that the English-speaking world is more than England. Translating a text that will be the same in Kuala Lumpur and Calgary is not so easy than one which will be used in both Portsmouth and Durham.

“The Authorized Version knew better, it was Douay, feverishly keeping the order of the Latin, that gave us the piece of false rhetoric to which our ears, by annual repetition, have grown accustomed.”
p. 5

Here Know refers to the text, “If I by the finger of God cast out devils” whose emphasis, wrongly placed, could make it seem as if Jesus could also cast out angels. Anyway, it does seem that there is a long tradition of rendering English in a very Latinate way. It goes back to Douai at least!

“The first thing demanded of a new translation of the Vulgate is that it should break away from the literal translation of sentences.” p. 5

A clue to Knox’s methodology of translation. It is not the only method possible, as Liturgiam authenticam has a different one. Not better or worse, but different. At least there is a method to follow, in principle.

“Every translation of the Bible you have ever read makes errors which are quite as ludicrous –only we are accustomed to them. Douay was consistent; it translated the Latin word for word, and if you protested that its version sounded rather odd, replied woodenly, ‘Well, that’s what it says.’” p. 6

Consistency: not a bad idea for a translation. Also, we can become accustomed to certain turns of phrase!

“Where a form of words has become stereotyped through passing into liturgical use, it is a pity and probably a waste of time to try and alter it. The words of the Our Father and the Hail Mary have got to remain as they are.” p. 8

Knox died in 1957. I wonder what he would do about translating the Mass into English? He does observe that liturgical use trumps accuracy of translation. This is an important ecclesiological point, I think: The Bible does not norm the Church, but the other way around, at least in some sense. Discuss!

“It is a capital heresy among translators, the idea that you must always render so-and-so in Latin by such-and-such in English.” p. 10

As my friend Gregory says, Consistency is a virtue of small minds. Consistency is a virtue, except when it is a vice. Somewhat like anger.

“The translator who understands his job feels, constantly, like Alice in Wonderland trying to play croquet with flamingoes for mallets and hedgehogs for balls; words are forever eluding his grasp.” p. 11

I wonder how those over at Vox Clara feel about all this? They have invested their time and energy in this laborious process, and it is not easy. That alone merits sympathy, I say!

“Ought the modern reader of the Bible to have the illusion that he is reading something written in the twentieth century? Or will he prefer to have these holy documents wrapped up in archaic forms, just as he prefers to see the priest at Mass dressed up in a sixth-century frockcoat? The latter suggestion is not so improbable as it sounds.”
p. 13

Many orations of the Mass are old. We do not celebrate Mass according to strictly Third Millennium ways of doing everything. Archaic language in some cases is not the same as archeologism. It connects us with the past.

“Much more serious was the problem, what to do about ‘thou’ and ‘you’. I confess I would have liked to go the whole hog and dispense with the use of ‘thou’ and ‘thee’ even where the Almighty is being addressed. They do these things in France, but I felt sure you could not get it past the British public.” p. 16

English-speaking people tend to think of God in a language which is more elevated and “churchy”, at least some of them. It is a cultural thing. It is something neither to be promoted or expunged at all costs, but neither can it be ignored.

“Why must the Catholic clergy spend so much of their time in explaining that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says?” p. 24

Shouldn’t we explain the meaning of the scriptural and liturgical texts in their relation to people’s lives instead of historical-critical-philological commentary?

“For centuries people have laughed at the old Douay version, because in Galatians v.4 it gave the rendering, ‘You are evacuated from Christ’. In 1940, what metaphor could be more familiar, or more significant?” p. 28

Sometimes these things take on a very real meaning in a circumstance. Just goes to show that the Words have power, even when those Words may seem a little weird!

“If you translate the Bible, you are liable to be cross-examined by everybody; because everybody thinks he already knows what the Bible already means.” p. 66
“Nobody reads the Bible; popes and bishops are always telling us to read the Bible, and when you produce a translation of the Bible, the only thing people complain about is your reading of the diminutive snippets that are read out in church on Sundays.” p. 92

Everyone has an opinion. And everyone has the right to express it. But not all opinions are equally valid. And, in the final analysis, given that no translation will ever be perfect, it seems to me that our opinions on the translation of anything, as meritorious as they may be, are not as important as the reality behind those words. The Word of God, expressed through Scripture in the Bible and the Tradition of the Church in the Mass, tells us that Jesus prayed that all may be one. The unity of our faith depends on putting criticism in its place – second to and in the service of the unity of the Church and the truth of Revelation.

Ronald Knox accepted a charge to do what most men would blanche at the thought of doing: translating the Bible so the Word of God, ever ancient and ever new, could move people’s hearts to love God. Knox, his supporters and his detractors, all knew one thing, however. They would still be in Church on Sunday morning for Mass, and they would still be in communion with Christ and their prelates. No manipulation of words would ever come between them and that. It is devoutly to be wished that the same recognition of the power of communion in truth that they had would capture the minds and hearts of all of us today.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Simple Propers for the First Sunday of Advent

I would like to express a special word of gratitude to all of you who have supported the Simple English Propers Project at the Chant Café from the bottom of my heart. It is truly a miracle how this project has come together and I think that we have all seen the transformative power of Divine Charity when we choose to participate with it. The sacred music community was able to gather for the Simple Propers project $5000 in exactly two weeks which will enable the project to be properly done in a timely and productive fashion. I am personally grateful to each benefactor who has seen value in this project and who has communicated that value through a financial contribution. When the project is complete it will be shared with everyone forever. Your gift will "keep on giving". Thank you for your generosity.

As a result of the completed patronage campaign, the Simple English Propers Project has been able to organize itself for the production of the competed book, and just in time–We're now able to offer a set of propers for the beginning of the new Church Year, the First Sunday of Advent, in a polished design that will form the beginning of the completed collection.

Download Simple Propers for the First Sunday of Advent Here

Please keep in mind that the "beta" phase for this collection is not quite over yet. Time is still needed for the melodic formulas to stabilize, and for the Modified Douay Psalms to stabilize as well. I am working with a small team on these efforts and we are making great progress. I suspect in a month or so we will be well on our way toward finishing the entire book.

Note in this week's offering that we have decided to part ways with the "Simple Setting". I would like to hear in the comment box if this will be missed. The general consensus has said that it will not. If there are some among you who have relied upon having these simple settings I will do my best to get you the resources you need. The decision was made essentially because of the size of the book would be over 500 pages with two antiphons for each proper, and is under 300 with only one.

Please offer any feedback that you might have as we are rolling very quickly into locking in on production and completion of this collection.

UPDATE: Here are additional "Simple Setting" antiphons for those who need them

"Truly Blended Worship"

This Sunday our schola will enjoin the congregation in singing both at the Offertory,
and in singing THE Offertory.
As we know, the gospel for the Feast is the account of Dismas, the "good thief", acknowledging and defending Christ against the taunts and mockery of the other crucified thief and centurians. It's interesting to note that Dismas recognizes Jesus as Messiah and true King, despite the legalistic placard that Pilate deemed be noted above our Lord's head on the cross, with "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom." Jesus responds with a different metaphor, "...this day you will be with me in Paradise," something considerably more than an earthly deliverer.
As we all know, Jacques Berthier's most familiar composition is likely the musical refrain "Jesus, Remember Me" that congregations world-wide have taken up as easily as any melody ever written. But upon reflecting about this most modest of songs, and its mustard-seed size potential and power, I also remembered that there might just be a kinship between the narrative of the gospel and the actual Offertorio text, excerpted from the verses from Psalm 2  in particular:

Ask and I shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession.

Those of us who regularly use the Simple Choral Gradual Propers by the great Richard Rice have likely noticed that he sets his homophony most often in F Major. So, it occured to me that by alternating some repetitions of the Berthier with the Rice Offertory Antiphon links the Old with the New Covenant. So, that's what we're going to do this Sunday. I'll let you know how I think it succeeded or not.

Okay, official post-script- IT WAS GREAT! We alternated three repetitions of the Berthier ostinato, and then interpolated a verse/refrain of the Rice Offertorio. The congregation seemed to be in step with our mp/mf/forte pyramid-crescendo for each of the reps of the Berthier and then we seemlessly moved into the "fauxbourdon" verses of the Rice via the common F Major tonal center. But the neat little shift to G minor of the Rice antiphon provided the ear some measure of refreshment before cadencing back in F Major, and resuming the Berthier. I love synchronicity.

It worked so well at our schola Mass, we repeated it at the ensemble Mass as well with just classical guitar single rolled underpinning. Sweet.

The Message about the Missal Chants is getting out

The introduction of the new Missal is one year away and many pastors are planning ahead. I've heard from many pastors who have no chant programs in their parishes, no scholas working their way through the Gradual, who see this new Missal has an opportunity to unify their music programs toward a solemn direction and do something about the problem that afflicts nearly every parish in this country: the fracturing of the parish community into niche sectors organized by demographics and musical style preference.

ICEL and the American Bishops are intensely aware of this problem, and regard the music in the new Missal as part of the solution. The widely held aspiration is that these chants will become the standard music for the new translation of Mass. This message is certainly getting out.

I have my own issues with the chants that will appear in the new Missal. In particular I think more could have been done to provide weightier English versions of the Sanctus and Angus. And yet, there might be wisdom in the easy settings that are provided in here. Those of us with developing, progressing programs can easily forget just how impoverished the musical life of most parishes truly is. There are no choirs, no organists, no real directors of music in them; there are only volunteers trying to do what the Church wants but who feel mostly confused and lost.

These easy chants can get them on the right track. I do that is the most important accomplishment here. There is an additional factor here: the chanted text will help people to get to know the new text, just as little songs we sing in grade school help us to remember poetry, grammar, and even math. A sung text becomes more familiar more quickly than a spoken one.

My own hope is that parishes will push beyond the Gloria, Sanctus, and Agnus and look to the credo. Every document says that a sung Creed is a priority in the Roman Rite and yet, it is hardly ever sung. This is a chance for a real change.

I prefer the credo based on Credo I but here are two in the new missal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Houston, we have a problem

Communion Antiphon, First Sunday of Advent

Dominus dabit benignitatem:
et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.

The Lord will shower his gifts,
and our land will yield its fruit

The Lord will show us his kindness,
and our earth shall yield its fruit

The Lord will bestow his bounty
and our earth shall yield its increase.

Ad te levavi

Always the first proper in the Gradual, the Introit for the First Sunday of Advent:

The "Received Text" on WikiLeaks

Many pages of new English translation of the full Roman Missal, in the near-final form as adapted by Rome, has appeared on Wikileaks, as noted by PrayTell.

You are welcome to look through it all, and it would be great if people would post samples and compare them to the current Missal, but here is just one sample of the coming changes that you can look forward to.

In the current Missal at the Easter Vigil, following the Gloria, the priest says in a cadence and language now all-too-familiar to Catholics:

Lord God,
you have brightened this night
with the radiance of the risen Christ.
Quicken the spirit of sonship in your Church;
renew us in mind and body
to give you whole-hearted service.

The received text is very different: liturgical, grand, intelligent, respectful, solemn:

O God, who make this most sacred night radiant
with the glory of the Lord's Resurrection,
stir up in your Church a spirit of adoption,
so that, renewed in body and mind,
we may render you undivided service.

Or consider the differences in the prayer after communion for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, starting with the current (lame-duck) version:
Lord, you have nourished us with bread from heaven.
Fill us with your Spirit,
and make us one in peace and love.

Groovy. Now consider the forthcoming version:

Pour on us, O Lord, the Spirit of your love,
and in your kindness make those you have nourished
by this one heavenly bread,
one in mind and heart.

The Lord said, Go and Kill a Turkey?

The authenticity of this chant is surely to be doubted. (Thanks John Burchfield).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

News from on High

Two pieces of news, the first of which affects my post yesterday on permission to distribute Mass settings with the new text. That approval has been granted, which explains why some are available and some are not. My quick review of them all focuses on the positive: Lisa Stafford's Mass of Grace is the best of all the offerings by mainstream publishers. It has tested very well with choirs and people around the country. Cantica Nova also offers three new settings, which I'm quite sure are excellent, particularly the setting by B. Andrew Mills.

The second piece of news comes from the site that seems to break all the news these days, PrayTell. The Revised Grail Psalter has been released and will soon be available.

There is a serious problem with this book and it has nothing to do with the translation itself. The Grail in the UK is seriously proprietary about this text and it variously authorizes agents to distribute it and extract money from people for printing, singing, and recording it. When the Conception Abbey revised the Grail, it had to enter into a legal agreement first with the Grail and second with the authorized distribution agent in the United States, the GIA.

These agreements are all secret, but the GIA has not been secret about its intention to charge whatever sum it wants for the right to print the text, meaning that GIA will charge OCP, WLP, Cantica Nova, and every one else, and ultimately you and me and every Catholic in the pews, for singing the Psalms, and, if you do not pay, you will be hearing from GIA's lawyers. Somehow, our naive friends at the USCCB forgot to do their homework on these matters before leaping into this legal pit lorded over by a for-profit publisher that has no official connection to the Catholic Church.

Regardless, then, of the merits of the Revised Grail, this approval and release is absolutely no cause for celebration. What friends of the Roman Rite need to do is to make sure that several public domain translations of the Psalms are at least permitted to be used at Mass for the Responsorial Psalm. If this happens, hardly anyone will be willing to pay GIA a dime for the legal right to praise God, and then perhaps the Grail in the UK, together with Conception and all the other players, will rethink their business strategy that depends so heavily on using the state to impose a tax on the faithful for worshiping God.

Another version of Christus Vincit

Sung by our Chant Cafe co-blogger Fr. Christopher Smith!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christus Vincit!

For Christ the King, Christus Vincit! You don't need a papal procession to sing it. You can get the entire chant (6 pages) at the Parish Book of Chant online (pdf page 103ff)

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Here is a contemporary setting by James MacMillan

The Classical Guitar as "voices"....Dirait on by LAGQ

Over at the Musica Sacra Forum, I alluded to the LA Guitar Quartet's virtuosity. I've also shared there the encounter I had one summer workshop with Paul Salamunovich, where I gave him a CD containing the following version of his protege, Morton Lauridsen's famous "Dirait on" from Rilke's Flower Poems. Here is a YouTube performance that has the LAGQ version with some shadow imaging.

I would like to dedicate this post to our bishop, John Steinbock, who is ailing and hospitalized with stage three lung cancer and severe blood clotting. Ora pro nobis....

When can Catholic publishers distribute their new music?

There is no question that ICEL and the USCCB, and the Vatican as well, hope that the new Missal translation will be a time of musical reform as well. The chant-like musical settings of the Mass in the Missal have been public for a very long time now (that this link is nearly impossible to find on the ICEL website is surely not deliberate).

These are the settings that many Bishops and Church officials hope will become the default settings for all American parishes, the ones used at daily Masses and most Sunday Masses as well. The goal here is to have something like a nationally shared Mass setting that isn't the "Mass of Creation."

The CMAA has made a complete set of videos of this music available for everyone.

At the same time, ICEL/VOX/USCCB are not somehow restricting the rights of publishers to produce and market alternative settings of the texts, and this is precisely what GIA, OCP, and WLP have done.

What must annoy these companies in the extreme right now is that, apparently, and from what I can gather, they are not yet permitted to commercially distribute their settings because the final Missal has not been approved. The delays go on and on and on.

As a result, the companies seem to be doing everything they can do to market the settings without actually distributing them. They provide PDF previews. They provided MP3 recordings. They have interviews with the composers. They write about the merits of this one or that one. They can do anything but actually sell and distribute their music.

Therefore, right now, they are all under some kind of restriction, and you get statements such as this from GIA:
All pre-orders will be given first priority and will be shipped to you as soon as they become available for delivery. You will not be billed until your order has been shipped. Check out the rich variety of new and revised settings available from GIA and order yours TODAY!
And there is this from WLP:
VIEW and LISTEN to all the new and revised WLP Mass settings with the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Request a FREE copy of WLP Presents: Musical Settings of the Mass by calling 1-800-566-6150. All content pending final approval.
If you try to actually buy the sheet music, you discover that it is unavailable or listed as out of stock.

And here is something similar at OCP:
The USCCB has set the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011 as the official implementation date for the new Roman Missal. This means you can now order the resources you need to learn, teach and implement the changes in your parish! Click on the links below to hear sound samples, preview sheet music, order accompaniments and read exclusive composer interviews to engage your community!
Once again, you have no luck if you actually try to buy any.

The restrictions are all apparently in place.

And yet there must be aspects of these restrictions that I do not understand because OCP is offering free downloads of its music in so-called Assembly editions. Here is Dan Schutte's Mass of Christ the Savior, Estela García-López's Misa St. Cecilia, Christopher Walkers's Celtic Mass, and so on.

If GIA and WLP are also providing such complete Assembly editions, I've not yet found them. Even more than that, OCP is taking this a step further with a complete book for congregations that includes many of its to-be-published settings for $2.99. When I add to the cart, the software says it is in stock, a fact confirmed by an email that I received this morning from OCP that says: "Due to overwhelming response, we've sold out of our initial inventory. With more arriving by November 19th, now's your chance to reserve your copy!"

So apparently, OCP has been publishing and distributing alternate music for the New Missal for some time. OCP also published some of its music earlier this year in its Today's Liturgy publication.

I'm not at all sure that I understand what publishers can and cannot do right now and I'm not privy to any of the communications between ICEL and these publishers. Maybe there is a reason for all of this. I just do not know. It also would not surprise me to learn that there is some degree of confusion out there or that OCP is pushing the envelope just a bit in its own enterprising interests - and here again, I'm not objecting to such an approach but only drawing attention to the range of responses out there to restrictions which seems rather vague and with uncertain deadlines and finish lines.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Advanced Chant With Dr. William Mahrt

There is still room in Dr. Mahrt's advanced class at the Winter Chant Intensive coming up in January in New Orleans. This is a rare opportunity to study with Dr. Mahrt for an entire week. For those of you who are curious about just what will be covered, here's a more detailed description of the course:

The advanced course will include substantial singing of chants, first the propers for Epiphany according to the Solesmes method, and then chants in a wide variety of genres. Interpretation of the chants will include the approach to overall rhythmic structure according to the Solesmes method, but also bringing other ways to comprehend the overall formal rhythm of the chants, including accentualism and semiology.

Lecture and discussion will include the following:

1) A brief history of Gregorian chant;
2) The role of memory in the formation and performance of chant and the subsequent development of notation;
3) Modes in their application to psalm tones, formulaic melodies, and free chants, and the application of melodic analysis to performance;
4) Gregorian hymnody;
5) The intimate relation of musical style and liturgical function;
6) The aesthetics of Gregorian chant: sacred, beautiful, and universal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wonderful FSSP Promotional Video

Magister Perotinus-Viderunt omnes

Testing the embed feature of MusOpen.org

The Problem of Gospel Acclamations

One aspect of the ordinary form texts I've never really figured out (not that I've spent hours trying to figure it out) concerns the text for the Gospel Acclamation. It seems that the texts are rather unstable. For some reason, the USCCB does not provide them on its website, though it provides the full Responsorial Psalm and readings. Also I see no parraellel between what is in the Missalette and what is provided for in the actual Alleluia text of the Graduale Romanum.

The contrast today struck me in particular.

Missallete: "Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand." (Lk 21:28)

Graduale: "Out of the depths have I cried to you, 0 Lord; Lord, hear my voice. (Psalm 129) 

Someone needs to put this problem on the agenda.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's done, and history is made

In 14 days, the ChantCafe and CMAA pulled off the first ever commissioning of liturgical music using digital micro-patronage, raising fully $5000. Every bit after technology fees goes directly to the composer and the resulting product given to the world for free.

What can we say but: this works! And thank you to all patrons of the arts who made this possible. They stand in a long line of art patrons dating back to the ancient world. Most of the people who gave never imagined that they could become a patron of liturgical music. They figured that this was something that the super rich can do, but it is not a role for regular folks. For years I've looked at programs at the symphony or theater and seen the names of people who gave to make it possible. We can't but be grateful to them but it always seems like something they can do but we cannot do. 

Not so now. Many of the patrons gave $10 gifts. This was the driving energy. They were equally generous as those who gave much larger amounts and put the campaign over the top. What was beautiful to see was the cooperation between all the groups (small, medium, and large donors) toward a common goal. This is the magic and energy.

The music that results here is given not only to the patrons, without restrictions on copying or distribution, but also to everyone else in the world as well, and not just for now but forever. In short, these patrons were doing something to benefit the whole Church, the faith, and the cause of beautiful art. As for the printed version, thanks to print-on-demand services, it will be made available at direct cost of the paper and ink. You can look forward to buying your complete set in the future, as the project continues toward completion.

It is interesting to compare this approach with the usual commercial approach. The composer is paid very little but promised royalties that rarely if ever arrive in any serious amount. And yet the publisher restricts the results, so that you cannot copy it. They threaten us with fines, lawsuits, investigations, and coercion for doing so. The consumers pay and pay and pay again, for sheet after sheet, year after year, essentially forever. Even when the music is not available, the publishers demand a fee for photocopying old music. The music itself is never free of shackles, not even for the composer, and the paying never stops. Who benefits from this system? It is not the composer. It is not the customer. You can do the math and draw the conclusion.

When you think about it, there is a fantastic amount of bloat and belligerence embedded in these conventions. How can they last in a digital age? They surely cannot.

You have shown that a new, humane, and charitable solution can work when people of faith come together and join their energies to a common cause. We can't overlook a serious tip of the hat to digital media and the entrepreneurs at ThePoint.com that made this whole campaign possible with just a few clicks. Their technology is easy and empowering. This is what made it possible for anyone to realize a dream of being an arts patron. Speaking for myself here, I never imagined I would be able to make a contribution in this way.

Of course I'm most excited about the resulting music, which will be the first in-print book of simple, chanted English propers for every Catholic parish. Yes, it should have been done 40 years ago. But what matters is that it is being done right now, and it won't be too long before we can hold this book in our hands and say: this is music for Mass.

Thank you again to everyone, and especially to Adam for having faith that this could work.

Simple English Propers Project Campaign Complete!

This evening the 64th benefactor for the Simple English Propers project tipped the campaign, this on the eve of the 14th day since it first began. It has only taken two weeks to reach the project goal!

This is astounding and inspiring in every way. I am just shocked by the response to this project, and how quickly people of faith emerged to embrace a platform of decentralized patronage to commission a creative work which will be given forever as a gift to the Church.

Many must be scratching their heads wondering how this possibly happened. Many certainly have their curiosities piqued. We at the Chant Café are overjoyed, and I as the editor of this creative work am deeply humbled and most profoundly grateful to all of you who saw value in this project and took a leap of faith in a new model of sacred music commissioning. From the bottom of my heart: thank you!

I can assure you that much more reflection will follow. For now we just rest in joy and gratefulness to the Lord for all of the gifts that he has given us, and in thanksgiving for the members of the Body of Christ who cooperated to allow a movement to emerge which will be greater than the sum of its parts. May the Lord who began this good work bring it to completion!

Deo Gratias!

Who will put the English Propers Over the Top?

The campaign is now 92% complete. Who will put us over the top? Who can help complete the goal?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Henryk Górecki, 1933-2010

Henryk Górecki has died.

"The second movement (3rd Symphony) uses the words of a teenage girl, Helena Błażusiak, which she wrote on the wall of a Gestapo prison cell in Zakopane to invoke the protection of the Virgin Mary."

An Applied Course in Gregorian Chant

In 1956, the Gregorian Institute of America published a wonderful  book by chant scholar Joseph Robert Carroll, a book that makes a great text for a course in chant. It is an excellent beginning, a way to get to know the chant and learn to sing it for Mass.

The CMAA is now hosting this book on its website, MusicaSacra.com.

It is entirely possible to print an edition of this to be sold for a price even lower than it sold for back in the day. If this seems like something you would like us to do, please write and say so.

For my part, I'm thrilled to have these books make a grand return in this way. That GIA failed to renew their copyrights is providential in so many ways, for if they had, no one would ever see them again. As it is, this book is entirely in the public domain.

What the Catholic Church is Missing

This is about the 113th letter I've received along the following lines, and I post it just to underscore the reality of the problem: the Catholic Church in the United States does not pay its musicians. Paying musicians does not guarantee good music, but insofar as there is a systematic bias against paying musicians, the professionals, the people truly talented and serious, are going to go elsewhere. Letter edited slightly to remove some detail.
I am extremely appreciative of your work in supporting good liturgy. I’ve been an organist and choirmaster for more 20 years now. Most of that time has been spent in Roman Catholic churches in my area. For the past five years, I’ve been playing in Episcopal and Anglican circles. The reason for this is relatively simple. The Dioceses appear incapable of paying their musicians according to the market standard. I’ve recently applied and received offers from two of the wealthiest suburban parishes in the Diocese. These churches which are bringing in – in excess of $25 to $30,000 a weekend, were unwilling to offer me more than $75 for a mass. This is less than half of what I earn in an Anglican parish with a mere 100 parishioners. Stories of unpaid (ie. inexperienced) Catholic volunteers abound. Then of course there is the music.... While I would love to lead a traditional program, I can count the parishes that would be willing to support such programs on one hand. A job posting I just read off the "Office of Divine Worship" web-site this morning was looking for someone with PIANO skills (organ if possible).

I'll say again what has been said a million times: folks, we have a problem, and it comes down to an institutionalized undervaluing of musical talent.

A Shift to Watch at GIA

The GIA has announced the formation of a new advisory board to serve as a "think tank for new initiatives" and to be the "eyes and ears for identifying trends and needs of Church musicians." The only member so far is Thomas Stehle at St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C.. During his time at St. Matthews, he has sponsored a regular organ recital and a singing of Vespers in Latin and English. The Schola is the premier group at the Cathedral. "Repertoire for the Schola ranges from medieval to contemporary, and includes Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, classical motets, and compositions by prominent contemporary composers of liturgical music. The Schola also provides Introits and Communion Antiphons for the weekly Latin Mass as well as special programs of Gregorian chant." (My emphasis)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Latin text 1969 Missale Romanum

I am looking for a little help and hoping someone can provide it.

I am looking for the Opening Prayer/Collect for Easter (Mass of the Day/Ad Missam in die) in Latin, as it appears in the 1969 missale romanum - not the 2002 edition.

Can anyone connect me to it somehow?


Digital Media and the Internet as a "sacrament" of Divine Charity: The Loaves and the Fishes

In Jeffrey's post from yesterday, A Culture of Giving and Sharing, he has exposed what is at the heart of the Simple English Propers project. If you haven't already, please read this article first.

After reading through his beautifully eloquent and inspired post several times I realized that what Jeffrey describes here is the miracle of the loaves and the fishes.

Consider the story from the gospel: At the Lord's request the twelve disciples gave up their lunch, five loaves and two fishes, because they saw that the five thousand who were gathered were hungry. They knew absolutely well that the five loaves of bread and two fishes would hardly even make a discernible dent in the problem of feeding the crowd. If they had used their faculties of reason alone they would have surely rebuked Jesus and kept their lunch for themselves (I'm sure they were hungry too!)–they would have hoarded their "property" that he had surely worked hard for.

But the twelve stepped out in faith and trusted in the Lord and gave their measly lunch away instead, freely as a gift, and it was through Christ who mediated with a miracle, that the five thousand were fed, and there was more left over at the end than they had in the first place. The leftovers alone filled twelve wicker baskets and would have been enough food for the disciples to take home and feed on for weeks.

The miracle of the loaves and the fishes is the phenomenon that we are dealing with in digital media that is shared on the internet. In fact, digital media shared online, perhaps, could be seen as a sacrament (small "s") of Divine Charity, according to the classic definition of a sacrament: "a visible sign of an invisible reality".

Sacral Language and the Forthcoming Missal

I'm pleased to see that seminars concerning the forthcoming Missal appear to be increasingly upfront about the reality: the current (lame duck, as Fr. Z says) translation is deeply defective whereas the forthcoming translation is corrected. There's no reason to be shy about saying so, even given the implicit admission of error. This workshop sponsored by the St. Louis Archdiocese essentially says this. As Christopher Carstens of the Office of Sacred Worship in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., puts it "we have a new missal and a new set of translation principles that have grown and matured over 50 years that weren't there the year after the Second Vatican Council or five years or 10 years after the Council."

Another point made in this workshop is extremely important: the need for a special language for worship. "Think of the 'Star-Spangled Banner,'" Carstens said, reciting, "'Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?' We don't speak like that." It is a more formal, elevated style of language. So, too, is the language of the Liturgy.

We might add another point that follows: so too is the music of liturgy.

"The importance of Gregorian chant"


70. As part of the enhancement of the word of God in the liturgy, attention should also be paid to the use of song at the times called for by the particular rite. Preference should be given to songs which are of clear biblical inspiration and which express, through the harmony of music and words, the beauty of God’s word. We would do well to make the most of those songs handed down to us by the Church’s tradition which respect this criterion. I think in particular of the importance of Gregorian chant.

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 30 September, the Memorial of Saint Jerome, in the year 2010, the sixth of my Pontificate.

Reader objection on the subject of copyright

I found this anon. comment on the blog worthy of reprinting because it sums up many questions that people have concerning publishing and the commons.

I think when discussing "big picture" aspects of music related to intellectual property rights, one need approach this without a preconceived, a priori sense of how things "should be" in an idealized vision for the church, especially to the extent that this engenders sometimes far fetched over reaching and specious arguments to buttress unfounded claims, leaving out key elements in those stories used to provide raison d'etre for such.

To claim that copyright law somehow sets up a situation where an artist just cannot get his stuff out there in a "freely distributed" fashion is pure poppycock. Artists have always been at liberty to make their music available for free if they so choose. So do that if you think that best works, especially in regard to church. Please, by all means.

Lumping the traditionalist movement in with one's private vision for dismantling intellectual property law is ludicrous, as are arguments about comparing the making a consumable (sandwich - eat once) and comparing that to a piece of music which one can charge many times for (small benefactors vs. one wbo might commission a work and underwrite the whole endeavor with on check) and then try to bend people's brains to try and wrap heads around an argument that in the end is just plain nutty.
Intellectual property rights were established to protect and benefit artists. I know artists who can actually raise families and not live in a shack because of such beneficial codes, and these are, though sometimes imperfect, wrought out of a sense of fair play. Again, no one is forced to use these protections.

I do agree that some of the modern translations of liturgical prayers and approved Bilical texts seem to operate out of an idea that the "translation" is somehow a protected property, as if it was a real creative work, and thus, copyright law and theory is used in a somewhat abusive and coercive manner, to the detriment of the church. In this instance, the Church herself is to blame for not commissioning these as "works for hire." This is aberrational in the grander scheme of copyright law and should be addressed as such, not seen as a flaw in the theory of intellectual property protections.

I'm pleased to see this last paragraph in particular. I think the good guys have won this debate. The Book of Common Prayer is in the commons, as are the books of the Eastern liturgy. All liturgical texts were published without state monopoly privilege in the past. There is no reason to continue what is essentially a 20th century innovation that has created a cartel of publishers and seriously hindered the spread of the Gospel.

I've yet to find anyone who seriously disagrees with the moral claim that liturgical texts should be and must be in the commons. Even Vatican officials recognize the serious problems associated with the use of exclusive and traditional copyright on liturgical texts, despite periodic lurches in the direction of endorsing them.

When will they come to an end? This is where matters get complicated. Some people with ICEL would like to see this ended. Many publishers would be thrilled to see all liturgical texts in the commons. But accomplishing this requires the agreement of all English-speaking conferences - essentially a bureaucratic feat of monumental proportions at this point. This is not a decision that ICEL can make on its own because ICEL itself is not the copyright holder on the texts that it generates and oversees. I seriously doubt that we will ever see an open agreement to restore natural liberty with regard to the texts. They will eventually open de facto as the conferences themselves stop enforcing their copyrights, as they must in a digital age that is on fire for spreading the Gospel.

Note too that the Church is in an unusual position as a creator of texts. Most text creators can sell their text to only one publisher. The publisher then takes possession of it. Under the law, so long as they keep the work in print (this means an indefinite period of time given print on demand), the creator/artist loses all control, not for a decade or two but for his or her entire life, plus seventy years! This is what the law specifies.

In other words, your grandchildren will be the people who will be charged with resurrecting your work, if they care about it. Otherwise, the publisher will have buried it as long as the text is not commercially viable. As regards your rights as creator, you have none in your lifetime so long as you have signed them away.

This is what is known as author rights. Ridiculous, isn't it? Yes, it is. So why to creator/author/artists go along? They are tempted by the idea of royalties. This is something like a joke. You have a much greater chance of winning the state lottery than you do at making a living off royalties. Yes, some manage it. As Adam Bartlett says, there are perhaps 5 or 6 living Catholic musicians who are able to cobble together a living based on royalties. For the rest of them composers, they lose. Not only do they not make a viable income, they lose control of their work for their entire lives.

The Church however is in a different position. It can market its texts to many different publishers and under contractual terms that the Church specifies. No other composer of text or music is in a similar position.

And while it is true that artists have always been in a position to release their work in the open, they are often naively flattered by the prospect of royalties and make the fateful decision to sell their work to a single publisher. When they lose this gamble, as they nearly always do, it is too late. Their works are already enslaved in the machine, essentially gone and buried forever. This is deeply tragic. And this is why the institution of Creative Commons was invented; it prevents works from being grabbed and copyright protected by pirates while guaranteeing a full and universal distribution of art.

Thus we can see that the composers and artists are the main losers under the old system. This is hardly surprising. Copyright was invented as a mechanism of speech control during the religious struggles in England of the 16th century. (It is not true that "Intellectual property rights were established to protect and benefit artists"; on the contrary, they were designed to suppress the work of some artists and protect the work of others that supported political priorities.)

Copyright gained no traction as an institution in Europe until France bit the apple in the 19th century in the name of protecting artists against censorship. In Germany, however, copyright never made inroads, and not only did this free system permit the emergence of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Bruckner, and Brahms, but it also led to Germany's rise as an industrial nation.

International copyright laws only came into effective in the early 20th century, and they have grown ever more tight as the decades have passed, in response to corporate lobbying by Disney and others who want to hold on to monopoly power. During this time, the art that has flourished is that which has eschewed the use of copyright (rock, country, jazz, rap) while art that has used the institution has suffered terribly (art music and liturgical music), which is exactly what one would expect.

In any case, my private crusade on this matter makes no difference. The future is clear to everyone, and it is this: there is no future for the old-fashioned system of printed, copyright protected, mail-distributed sheet music. The industry is dying and will continue to die for the next decades. All its main players know this. The future is with open-source music, distributed digitally and printed on demand. We need to either get with this program or suffer the results. We can choose poverty and obscurity or a flourishing world of artistic wealth through open sourcing and micro-patronage.

The other day, I ran across the work of a living composer from a recording on Amazon. I wrote her to ask how I can buy the sheet music. Ten minutes later, it was in my email as an attachment, with a note that encouraged me to send it and post it as widely as possible. I ask this person why she did not use conventional copyright. She wrote back and said that the conventional system was exploitative and she wanted nothing to do with it.

What I like about the new system is how it replicates and improves the system that gave rise to the golden age of Church music. The music of the faith and the text of the faith should be produced and distributed in the same model as the faith itself: freely, expansively, universally. The ChantCafe isn't just talking the talk here; we are showing how it can be done.

Chant Cafe Receives Diocesan Plug

At Roma Locuta est, we find a report that the Chant Cafe is getting a big push from the Columbus, Ohio, diocese, and the reason? The fantastic audio/video files of the text of the new translation sung for tutorial purposes.

Speaking of, your parish's "sign of peace" might be a bit more peaceful when sung as follows:

Sign of Peace (15 of 22) from Church Music Association of Amer on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chorworks and their workshops

I'm pleased to discover Chorworks and their workshops. There are several in January including "From Plainsong to Polyphony" at St. Steven’s Roman Catholic Church, Sun Lakes, AZ, Saturday, January 29, 2011, 10:00am-6:00pm.

A Culture of Giving and Sharing

I see that Adam has posted two more sets of Simple Propers and hundreds of people who currently benefit from these postings are right now breathing a sigh of relief. I also note that he did not post the badge like you see to the right here, and that's fine. He is on the giving side of this great endeavor and feels shy (most likely) about making a direct appeal for financial support.

I have no such hesitancy, and I especially want to thank everyone who has donated. Some of these people certainly cannot afford to do so on the level that they did, and such efforts are genuinely moving and inspiring. What would also be great would be to see more $10, $5, and $1 donations - because they help (they do!) and also because they express solidarity and good will support, which Adam and the project very much need.

But actually there is much more at issue here even beyond the Simple Propers Project itself. It concerns the culture of music and its distribution in the Catholic world. When we think back to the early Church, we note that scripture reports that the first action of the early Christians was to share what they owned privately with others, to put their possessions and their money in a common pool. No, they were not communists and this was not an early experiment in liberation theology. But it does establish an ethos of giving and sharing toward the common good that defined Christianity from the earliest times to the present.

It is particularly true with regard to the texts and music of the faith. Unlike food and housing, the sharing of texts and music does not depreciate the existing stock of the good. One person can write a song and the entire world can sing it. One person can know a verse and give it to the entire world with no loss of the original copy. There is something of a miracle associated with this reality, and this is precisely what gave rise to the evangelical spirit in Christian culture. We can give and give, share and share, without limit. This impulse became the foundation of an ethos in the Catholic world. We do not hesitate to offer help to others and we do not feel guilt when we draw from the help others give us.

Sharing leads to an ever greater flowering of all things shared, as we learn from each other and improve the results in an ever more progressive way. This is how the music of the Church was built and grew from the earliest days, until the entire Church year was filled with chants suitable to every conceivable reading and liturgical action. The culture of giving and sharing made this happen. It made possible the development of organum and polyphony and the whole of the Western musical tradition.

An ethos of grasping and privatizing of art were unknown during this time. The goal of the composer was to release the music as far and as widely as possible. The composer hoped to have the music performed, hoped to have it imitated and elaborated upon, hoped to see others influenced and inspired by it. All music was a gift to the world and to the faith. This was the very essence of what it meant to be a Christian artist. You put your "possessions" at the feet of the Apostles and ask that they be used for the good of all.

But how can these people live if they are forever giving away? This is the question that is always asked about the institution of Christian charity. There is always and everywhere a material case to make against charity. Why rescue abandoned children when there are other things calling on our time? Why help the guy who is beaten and bleeding on the side of the road when there are places that we need to be? There is a sense in which charity itself seems irrational, and that is why it didn't exist in any institutionalized form in the ancient world apart from particular tribes and groups. The idea of universal love and universal charity is a Christian contribution. We have the faith to believe that when we give, we end up gaining more than we ever had in the first place.

The 20th century invention of what is called "copyright" took direct aim at this institution in a form that turned the Christian ethos on its head (I'm bypassing the Elizabethan history here because it was a very different institution). The newly internationalized law said: the state will guarantee that your art remains your art only and is accessed by others only on terms that financially benefit you personally. To be sure, this goes against the very nature of music and text, which are necessarily universal upon their public appearance. To make copyright stick required the state and its laws, which meant that Christian artists were encouraged to draw closer to the civic culture and its ruling magistrates.

Whatever else this has done, it dramatically upended 19 centuries of artistic practice in the Christian world. It has fostered, on one side, a culture of grasping, hoarding, and myopia among artists, and, on the other side, led those who benefit from the work of artists to not understand their obligations to give more than they get in return from the work of the artists themselves. The attitude of artists becomes "give me what I am due" and the attitude among would-be benefactors becomes "I gave at the office." And now that digital downloads make it possible to download thousands upon thousands of pages of music for free (and this is all to the good!), that mutual element of gratitude and its expression must also be cultivated among those who benefit.

So we can see here that the Simple Propers Project is about more than just providing quality chant settings for the ordinary form. It is an experiment in bringing the Christian ethos of giving and sharing back to Christian art itself. Adam is putting all of his music into the commons, just as the early Christian put their possessions at the feet of the Apostles. And as members of the community that benefits, what can we do? We can follow the example of giving, knowing with faith that we will gain more in the long run than we ever had or ever gave.

It is up to all of us to contribute and show how this seemingly irrational system of giving and sharing works to the benefit of all.