Until the Chabanel Psalms were established, the problem of the Responosorial Psalm was among the most vexing of the Roman Rite in the ordinary form. The core problem was a lack of integration with the rest of the music at Mass. Here we have the very core of Christian song and yet musical conventions provided few options that were stylistically part of a chanted Mass structure. Chabanel provided those options every week.
Among the most downloaded of all the Psalms are those by Arlene Oost-Zinner, a member of the ChantCafe’s team. Here’s are quick to learn, evocative of the text, different enough each each to provide variety but similar enough to provide stability, and, crucially, the Psalm antiphon includes all the verses with a pointed and notated text. It can be sung well by a single cantor or a full choir, and without the need for accompaniment. This structure permits the prayerful stillness of the chant between the readings to come through while still involving the people in the singing.
I can completely understand why so many use these sheets. Ideally, however, these would all be collected in a small book to keep in the choir room, so that we would have to constantly download and print. When something is this good, it is useful to have a printed edition. This is what the Chant Cafe and the CMAA would like to do: bring out a new edition of these Psalms, and in time for the release of the new Missal.
They serve as the perfect complement to the new Missal as well as the Simple English Propers that we will also be publishing. They also work well with Latin settings of the ordinary and propers. With this piece of the puzzle in place, every parish can have all the music needed to present a reliably beautiful sung Mass every week.
To support the completion of this project and its printing, the ChantCafe has started a chipIn campaign. Whatever you can provide would be fantastic. Your donation is tax deductible too – because of the CMAA’s nonprofit status.
Please help to make the Psalms at Mass beautiful again.