Monday, August 1, 2011

Simple English Propers at a Pontifical Mass

The Simple English Propers have swept through parishes and cathedrals at a pace that has astonished me. Talk about filling a desperate need! Here is a report of how they will be used at a Pontifical Mass in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The director has uploaded the complete order of Mass along with practice videos.
While the schola has tackled some Gregorian proper chants, the repertoire of the Graduale Romanum would have been perhaps a bit ambitious given both the singers’ relative lack of exposure to singing the genre (which, it should be said, is well above the global average) and infrequency of rehearsals. However, the schola’s fluency in English-language chant (every rehearsal starts with Evening Prayer from The Mundelein Psalter) and the publication of the Simple English Propers allowed for a unique opportunity — the singing of the processional propers of the Mass (Entrance, Offertory, Communion) in the vernacular, in their proper liturgical contexts, and in the context of a Pontifical Ordinary-Form Mass.

Furthermore, to highlight the Church’s desire that the Latin language be retained in liturgical services especially for the Ordinary of the Mass, all of the ordinary will be sung in Greek and Latin. Further, many of the dialogues will be sung in Latin.
Everyone knows that Pontifical Masses pose special problems for any Cathedral, and the solution is not always obvious. The SEP is a solution that avoids all the problems associated with picking styles to accommodate the Bishop's own preferences, which are not always obvious. The fresh clarity of the SEP provides that third option that just hits the mark.