Saturday, October 1, 2011

What about the "Grout" Mass approach?

Back in the day, er, around the turn of the century, there was a certain amount of interest expended within NPM and other places about Monsignor Francis Mannion's writings on identifiable modalities that liturgical musicians used typically to program Mass repertoires. One of those models I recall Monsignor wasn't so keen on was "Eclecticism." I remember at Indy 99 NPM there were two sessions inwhich that model and the others received spirited debate and deconstruction. But as I listened, I knew that I still regarded "eclecticism" as a defendable and even beneficial philosophy for a parish that had the abilities to adequately perform diverse repertoires. Now by "eclectic," I don't mean that various Masses in a parish weekend feature one style at a particular time, another elsewhere. I do mean the deliberate use of diverse styles and forms within a single Mass by a capable ensemble or even song leader/accompanist.
So, let me show the scaffold of a so-dubbed eclectic Mass music order:
*Introit: chanted in either Latin or the vernacular from any number of sources, in coordinated combination with:
*A congregational Entrance Hymn/Song, propers-based, scriptural allusion or action designated.
*A chanted Kyrie (Greek/vernacular) accessible to PIPs.
*A polyphonic, strophic or choral Gloria, accessible to the congregation according to the setting.
*The responsorial of the day from the psalter of the hymnal/missal at use in the parish; a chanted simple version such as AOZ is compiling, or a vernacular version or emulation of the gradual.
*Gospel acclamation: same criteria as the psalm
*Offertory: probably the most variable moment for options-
    Hymn/Song of the day approach
.   Choral Motet or anthem, either verbatim from the Offertorio or scriptural allusion
    Chanted Offertorio in Latin/English
    Strophic version such as found in Simple Choral Gradual
*Sanctus/Memorial/Amen- I believe that whatever style or form, these three should be uniformly related.
    ICEL/Jubilate Deo/Graduale Ordinary Chant settings/"new chant" ala St. Sherwin/Arrowsmith
    Chant-based emulation- The Lee setting, Proulx's Simplex, Psallite (Ford), Warner "Charity&Love"
    Homophonic: Schubert/Proulx "Deutsche," O'Shea "Mediatrix," Proulx "Oecumenica" etc.
    Others that do not juxtapose or challenge the sensibilities of the mix of styles: such as using a Leon   Roberts Gospel setting, or a setting that is mechanical or simplistic that bespeaks a "utilitarian" rather than artistic merit. That, of course, is a taste-based assessment, so if I say I'd choose an Andres Gouze setting over Proulx's "Community," well, that's how I'd make the judgment call. I also believe in a necessary priority of actualized, sung participation of all the faithful for the Sanctus, which second to the Pater Noster and collect responses, I believe is afforded to the congregation by Musica Sacram as a rightful priority. The occasional employment of a polyphonic or other classical choral Sanctus as is practiced by Prof. Mahrt twice or so per year doesn't intrude upon that maxim seriously.
*Lamb of God/Fraction - I'm partial to either
   a chanted version in Latin/vernacular, or
   a superb choral version, either language option, of appropriate duration
*Depending upon the number of congregants, priests/deacons, EMHC's and whether Eucharist is offered and received under both forms-
   The chanted Communio of the day, whether from the GR, or from other revised/alternative collections
   The homophonic or metered Communio from composers such as Rice, Tietze, P.Ford etc.
   Alius cantus aptus versions closely aligned to the Communio that are worthily set.
   A polyphonic Communio which either/all then could transition to a
*Communion processional hymn/song/antiphonal psalm setting.

I'm going to cut off my remarks here, as the issue of whether to program special choral pieces prior or after the Communion prayer is sung by the celebrant is generally a local issue, not to mention the specific need for silent prayer and contemplation. And the choice of using a sung dismissal hymn or song versus an organ or instrumental postlude, or even silence is also a local issue.
So, what are the holes in approaching programming an order of music in the survey, or Grout mode?
Do tell.
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