The Chant Cafe readers who have been following us since the beginning will remember that there was something similar to the current weekly posting of the Simple English Propers that began in September of 2010. This weekly posting, though, was much more organic, and developmental in nature. This weekly post often included much experimental material, and rough engravings and layouts, not to mention typos!
For those who do not know the story, the Chant Cafe was the cradle of this project and it was discussed intensely and fine tuned a great deal through the public “beta” process that led up to the book’s publication in the summer of 2011.
As the composer and editor of this book I can tell you that this experience was very profound. It was almost as though a new generation had emerged around this project with fresh eyes to look at the question of sacred music in our parishes, had access to the greatest scholars and practitioners of the previous generation, and a communication tool (the internet) which enabled exchanges so rich that they might as well have been taking place in the studios of 16th century Florence.
We all know the result. Jeffrey, the Cafe ring leader, has not held back his enthusiasm about this book. I still have a hard time understanding the effects of it, but hear stories that are almost unthinkable, difficult to believe or imagine.
Just today, Jeffrey briefly shared with me a conversation he recently had with Prof. Mahrt, the president of the CMAA. Dr. Mahrt has been directing one liturgy at his parish in Palo Alto, CA, for over 40 years, while most of the other liturgies at the same parish have mostly reflected the status quo. I’m told that one of the parish’s musicians (not in Mahrt’s choir) approached him and said something to the effect of: “Have you seen this new Simple English Propers book? I think we’re going to start using it!”
Why did it take 40 years for this to happen? I certainly don’t understand it, and we may never know.
The reality, though, is that great ideas can pop up almost out of nowhere, and while no one can really take credit for them, they can change life as we know it. Before the idea or thing, no one could have imagined it. But after they see it, there is an intellectual connection between two points and life is forever changed, and life without it cannot be imagined.
Whether the Simple English Propers was really one of these moments, I’m not entirely sure. But I can say that I can’t imagine directing music in Catholic liturgy without it. Perhaps many others feel the same.
What some of you may not know is that the work that was done in the SEP to address the needs of Catholic parish choirs has been carried on into a book that is similarly addressing the needs of Catholic parish congregations. For the past four months I have been editing, full-time, a new publication called the Lumen Christi Missal.
The Lumen Christi Missal is imbued with the same ethos that permeates the SEP. Its focus is different, though, because it is not intended for use by parish choirs and musicians, but is intended to be in the hands of the faithful. It gives them everything that they need and offers a replacement for the common parish “missalette” that is aimed at the new liturgical renewal, and is beautiful, permanent and dignified, bespeaking the beauty, permanence and dignity of the sacred liturgy.
The aim of the Lumen Christi Missal is to at once meet parishes where they are at, yet at the same time open possibilities that were otherwise unimaginable.
I am excited to announce that Illuminare Publications (the publisher of the LCM) has launched a new website and is now taking Pre-Orders for the Lumen Christi Missal. Pre-orders are being taken for individual copies as well as in bulk, and during the pre-order period we will be offering a discounted price.
There are generous sample (draft) contents on the site, and we will soon offer sample copies for those who are interested in purchasing for their parish. If you pre-order now you will also assist us in getting through the first print run. So in the spirit of the SEP, I would like to ask you for your support in making a book available to Catholic parishes throughout the United States that I believe could even surpass the SEP in its paradigm shifting influence.
It is an exciting time to be a Catholic. In the face of public and secular attack, the Church continues to persist in faith and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The renewal of the sacred liturgy is at the heart of this battle and I consider this work to be at the front lines. The celebration of the authentic liturgy is critical to the task of strongly reasserting our Catholic identity, and in showing forth the truth that only the Church holds in these dark times.
Thank you all for your support and prayers. Let us continue forward toward the “new era of liturgical renewal” that awaits us, and that indeed has already begun.