English Chant Propers for Corpus Christi

Wishing you all a blessed Corpus Christi, here are some recordings and practice videos of some of the English chant propers found in Lumen Christi Simple Gradual.

These antiphons use the new translation of the Roman Missal as their basis, and are simple enough for the entire congregation to sing, while having enough musical interest and beauty to bear repetition over time, year after year.

Even if your parish will not be singing the proper antiphons of the Mass this year, you can prepare yourself by praying along with the chants that the Church places before us on this most solemn feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The Lumen Christi Simple Gradual can be ordered here.

New English Propers for the Ascension of the Lord

Many will remember when videos for my book Simple English Propers were posted here on a weekly basis. This effort was grass-roots in every way, and did much to spark a renewed interest in chanting the Propers of the Mass throughout the English-speaking world.

Now, I am extremely excited to begin sharing some all-new recordings and videos from the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual—the work that has grown from and followed SEP. These simple, yet enduring chant settings are also found in the Lumen Christi Missal.

The antiphons of the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual have the benefit of being in accord with the new translation of the Roman Missal, and are arranged with the realities of parish life in mind. Accompaniment editions can be freely downloaded weekly at the Illuminare Score Library, and both Assembly and Choir Editions are now available for purchase.

Please enjoy these recordings, which are more than mere demonstration videos. I hope that they will also serve as helpful weekly meditations on the scriptures and on the proper texts of the Mass, so that we can continually strive to pray with the Church.



OFFERTORY ANTIPHON, God Goes Up with Shouts of Joy

COMMUNION ANTIPHON, Sing Praise to the Lord

Or: COMMUNION ANTIPHON, Behold, I am with you Always

See you in Florida!

I’m looking forward to being with all of the good people in the Florida CMAA chapter this week at the 6th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference, held at Ave Maria University.

I’m particularly excited to have the opportunity to give a presentation on the Lumen Christi Series which I am developing with Illuminare Publications, and also to direct the advanced men’s schola in both Gregorian and vernacular chant.

The brand-new Lumen Christi Simple Gradual will be available at the conference, and I’m very excited to share with the participants the ways that this new resource can help average parishes sing the Mass.

The concluding liturgy on Saturday will include the Entrance and Communion chants from the Graduale Romanum, in addition to the Gregorian Alleluia, and the Responsorial Psalm and Alleluia will be from the Lumen Christi Missal.

The Ordinary of the Mass will be Mass Setting II, as found in the Lumen Christi Missal and Simple Gradual, which is a simple, tone-based mass setting in Mode 6 that can easily be sung in any parish:

It’s going to be a great conference. I hope to see you there!

Lumen Christi Simple Gradual Now Shipping!

I am extremely excited to announce that the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, from Illuminare Publications, is now shipping! It can be ordered here in both Assembly and Choir Editions.

The Lumen Christi Series is the work that I have been carrying since Simple English Propers, which many long-time readers of the Chant Cafe will remember began developing here back in 2010. Here is a short video on the tree that is growing out of the seed that was SEP:

The Lumen Christi Simple Gradual is the fulfillment of the hope that began with Simple English Propers, mostly due to its flexible nature, and full integration into a series of publications including a Missal, companion Hymnal, full Gradual, Accompaniment Editions, and so much more.

The renewal of parish music according to the Church’s mind on the liturgy and authentic tradition is a big task. It takes much time, wisdom, excellent resources, and great faith. Illuminare Publications has organized an effort that can provide the resources and ongoing assistance that parishes need as they undertake this most important work.

Visit the Illuminare website to learn more about the Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, and the work that lies ahead in service of the Church’s ongoing work of authentic liturgical renewal.

You can also join the Illuminare newsletter in order to receive updates as the Lumen Christi Series moves forward toward completion.

The Case for Disposable Liturgy

It’s that time of year again.

Parishes all across the country are faced with the annual decision of whether to cancel their disposable missal subscriptions, or to renew it again “for just one more year”. 

Almost everyone knows that these subscription missals are not only of extremely poor quality – often getting beaten up, dogeared, and virtually torn apart by regular use in a matter of months – but that they are also at least 75% more costly to their parishes than permanent, dignified, long-lasting books for the pews.

Why do 3 out of 4 parishes continue to participate in this cycle of waste, degradation of the liturgy, and disrespect for the Word of God and the liturgical texts? The latest mailer from the leading disposable missal publisher makes the case very compellingly for why the majority of parishes today choose disposable liturgy.

Firstly, one of the most striking and utterly ironic features of this mailer – recently sent out to every parish in the country – is that it is very attractive: It is glossy, in full color, and printed on heavyweight paper. It is eight pages long and has very little text on each page, featuring instead a substantial amount of beautifully printed photography. The irony in this brochure is that the quality of this advertisement, which is instantly bound for parish trash cans after a single glance, is ten times the quality of the annual newsprint publications which it is promoting. Perhaps it is not ironic at all, but instead is a clever bit of marketing. Holding this beautiful, heavyweight promotional booklet certainly creates the illusion of quality products.

Next, we find the most important selling point, seemingly seeking to instill fear into the minds and souls of pastors: What if your needs change? How will you respond?

The pitch continues with the repetition of several key words and points that highlight the benefits of disposable missal programs: diversity, confidence, changing needs, fresh, flexibility, versatile, evolving, etc., etc. 

Let us ask ourselves for a moment – are these the words that should be used to describe the liturgy of Catholic Church? 

For each of them we can find a counterpart that better describes the true nature of the Church’s liturgical worship: universality, stability, catechesis and formation, timelessness, tradition, common to all, constant, etc.

Which words better describe the authentic nature of the liturgy to you?

Continuing on, the main selling point in this pamphlet couldn’t be more clear than the narrative found on the first page:

“Having a missal program that adapts to your changing needs, celebrates faith with an unmatched repertoire, and keeps you confident – knowing you always have the latest approved texts and music in hand – is invaluable.” (Emphasis as in original).

“Invaluable” is perhaps one way to put it. “Exorbitantly expensive” is another.

What might be helpful to pastors and music directors in assessing the true value of these products is a simple cost analysis between the leading disposable missal program and the leading permanent missal for the pew. This is simply an objective, dollars-and-cents comparison, apart from any means of instilling emotional or psychological distress.

A typical parish might maintain a subscription of 500 copies of the leading disposable missal program. The hard, published cost of this is $3,775.00 per year plus an annual shipping charge of approximately $800 per year. The total cost for this parish per year for this subscription is $4575.00.

This price is certainly lower than the cost of virtually any hardbound book, and it surely can be an attractive number when considering only the limits of a strapped annual budget.

But it is not the first year that breaks the bank for parishes. It is the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth… the tenth, even more.

After just three years, this parish will have spent $13,725.00, and will nothing to show for it other than the necessity of having to renew a costly subscription for yet another year. After 10 years of this, the total cost will be at an astonishing $45,750.00!

If the same parish, however, makes the switch to a permanent missal for the pew, it will break even with the leading disposable missal subscription in the middle of year three!

Put a different way, many parishes fear that they have to make a commitment of at least ten years in order to get the full value out of a permanent missal. This is not true. In fact, the cost of a three year subscription is greater than the cost of owning a permanent missal for three years.

This means that if you cancel your disposable missal subscription and purchase the Lumen Christi Missal instead, you will break even in three years, and potentially save your parish a whopping $34,475.00 over the course of a ten year period.

Thought of another way, if your “needs change” in three years time you can throw your permanent missals away, resubscribe to a disposable missal, and never have lost a cent.

When we look at the truth behind disposable missals we can see that a projected sense of security, flexibility and versatility is far from being “invaluable”. It is indeed extremely expensive. And what do parishes actually get in return? They get virtually the same newsprint, paperback missal sent out to them year after year with nothing more than a change of dates, with the addition of a few new obscure hymns, and a new cover. Truly, not much more changes than this.

There is an alternative, however. It is a hardcover missal with a gold embossed cover, has a sewn binding with two ribbons and is printed on the highest quality paper. 

It is the Lumen Christi Missal and it is ready to help you communicate to your parishioners the permanence, timelessness, universality and beauty of the sacred liturgy. At the same time it can save your parish thousands of dollars.

If you make the switch from a disposable missal before this Advent, you can save 10% on your total order (use coupon code advent2013). 

The liturgy is not disposable – it is eternal. You can help shift the expectations of your parish from the fear of constant change and vulnerability that is fostered by the leading disposable missal publishers, and instead focus it on a sense of stability, permanence, and timelessness with one single change.

The choice to make the switch has never been easier.

Learn more at www.illuminarepublications.com.

Sung Liturgy in Ordinary Parish Life

Over the past few years we have witnessed a groundswell in sung liturgy, and in the renewal of sacred music in parish life. This has been taking place in parishes, cathedrals, seminaries, universities and institutes, religious houses, and elsewhere, both here in the U.S. and abroad. This movement has not been reserved to specialists, but has become a popular one. With the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal in 2011, the foundational song for the liturgy in chanted form found a home on every altar and in every sacristy throughout the English-speaking world.

Those who have followed Chant Cafe over the past few years have witnessed the development of enterprising resources such as Simple English Propers, among many others. These projects which have come from such humble beginnings have not just been niche or esoteric in their scope, but have begun to find a home in many places in the ordinary, day-to-day events of Catholic life. We continue to receive reports from parishes and cathedrals around the country, notes from Europe, and even words of thanks from Rome. It’s all very hard to believe, and it is certainly not something we ever would have imagined.
Still, even after all of the progress that has been made, when we step back and take an inventory of our current situation we begin to realize how much more work still needs to be done in order to make sung liturgy a regular part of ordinary parish life.
In the parishes that have achieved and maintained any regular practice of sung liturgy so far, there is typically an extremely dedicated, faith-filled, and talented leader at the center of it. This may be a full-time music director, a part-time coordinator, or even a committed volunteer. This individual has to work extraordinarily hard not only to teach, catechize and train cantors, choirs, organists, members of the faithful, even parish staff and clergy, but also to pull together and execute sung liturgies week after week. It is true that this task is easier than it was five years ago, but still, it is a monumental task.

Just last week I read a note from a colleague in my diocese who went on vacation and planned to fly back home on Saturday night in order to direct his music program on Sunday morning. Well, his flight was delayed twice and finally cancelled, which would have been cause for a typical music director to begin scrambling for a sub. But his situation is different. He wrote:

In order to sub for me you have to read neumes, be able to sing in Latin, come up with accompaniments to chants and hymns on the fly, dabble your way through 3 books and a binder and keep the nice choir ladies on key…. so I couldn’t just call in some AGO-sub-lister. So what does an organist do? He flies into Los Angeles at midnight, rents a car, then drives through the night and makes it home just in time for his 7am Mass with no sleep.

This, my friends, is dedication. And — somewhat unfortunately — it is the kind of dedication that is currently needed to successfully sustain a program of sacred music in a parish today.

And this brings me to my next observation.

When we assess the musical programs in the majority of parishes, we do not find this kind of superhuman music director. In fact, in most parishes we see a mishmash of volunteers, perhaps a few stipended musicians, and maybe a part-time coordinator. Truly, parishes with full-time directors of music are the exception, not the norm.

Most of these parishes rely upon pre-packaged programs of liturgical music from the major commercial publishers that give them everything that is needed to get through weekend liturgies. These resources are utterly relied upon from week to week. There is the hymnal/missal for the pew, accompaniment books for the accompanist, and the cantor and choir editions for the singers that correspond to the books in the pews, et cetera. Everything is in place. All that is needed is for the musical leader of the Mass to select four songs from the planning guide, pick out a Mass setting, put the numbers on the board, and they’re ready to go.

We all know the drill very well. What makes us uneasy about this is not the drill itself, but it is the music in the popular commercial liturgical products that we know so often lacks dignity, doesn’t set the liturgical text, has strong associations with (often dated) popular music, and is a far cry from what we might describe as sacred music.

So far, we have been very blessed to have begun reaping the fruits of the chant revival, and new publications in recent years have helped make this possible. There are heroic music directors and dedicated volunteers among us who perform miracle after miracle — Sunday after Sunday, in order to help foster a culture of sacred music and sung liturgy in their parishes.

But we also have to realize that in order to make this happen in ordinary parishes we need to have a comprehensive program of sacred music that is packaged like the programs from the big commercial publishers. We need the complete package: Books for the pews, books for the choir and cantor that match, and accompaniment editions for it all.

And most importantly this program of sacred music needs to be born of the mind of the Church, organically developed out of the Church’s timeless tradition, a reflection of the priorities of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, beautiful, sacred, dignified, and able to sung every week by ordinary parishes with limited resources.

I would like to introduce you to a solution to these needs:

Meet the Lumen Christi Series from Illuminare Publications.

The Lumen Christi Missal is already being used in many parishes across the country, and hundreds rely upon the Illuminare Score Library every week for free downloads for the cantor and choir, and for organ accompaniments.

The Lumen Christi Hymnal, Lumen Christi Simple Gradual, and Lumen Christi Gradual are all on their way and will begin shipping in early 2014.

Sung liturgy cannot be reserved to the domain of specialists, or the dedicated few, but must be shared in by all. The Lumen Christi Series is ready to help you make this a reality in your parish.

Click here to learn more. You can follow the Illuminare Publications blog or subscribe to the mailing list for future publication announcements and updates.

Chant Workshop in October: See you in La Crosse!

I hope that you will come and join me for a chant workshop in the Diocese of La Crosse this October 25 and 26th. It will be the first of a series of sacred music events offered in collaboration between the Liturgical Institute and Illuminare Publications which will offer both immediately practical training and resources for use in parish life, and a deep rooting in sound sacramental and liturgical catechesis.

The workshop will feature a new and refreshing approach to chant instruction – one that begins with the important but often overlooked questions: What is the liturgy? How does music serve and form an integral part of the liturgy? How can music express the invisible mysteries contained within the liturgy? How does liturgical prayer affect our lives of faith? 

It will then explore the texts and musical settings that form an actual part of the liturgy itself, and intensive instruction will be offered on singing liturgical chant beautifully, expressively and effectively.

The workshop will cover the core musical settings found in the Roman Missal, will give a particular emphasis to the singing of the proper antiphons of the Mass, and will offer strategies and approaches for an effective and pastoral implementation of sung liturgy in ordinary parish life. It will also demonstrate the singing of psalm verses in 4-part harmony, how to conduct a choir or schola in the singing of chant, and will offer tips for running a successful parish music program. The workshop will conclude with a fully sung Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This workshop will be accessible and beneficial to both beginner and seasoned liturgical musicians, as well as to to priests, deacons, cantors, and even to those who have sung chant with some regularity. All are welcome, and everyone will surely discover something new about liturgical music and its effect in our lives of faith.

To register for the event, please email worship@dioceseoflacrosse.com, or call (608) 791-2674.

See the flyer below for more details. I hope to see you there!

If you are interested in bringing a similar workshop to your parish or diocese, please contact: info@illuminarepublications.com

Can the People Sing the Propers?

Over at Corpus Christi Watershed, Richard Clark shares a reflection on a few recent Archdiocesan liturgies in Boston, one of which included singing the Propers of the Mass.

He wrote:

We sang the Introit, Offertory and Communion propers including settings by Adam Bartlett from the Lumen Christi Missal. These were included in the worship aids, so after a verse or two, the congregation began to sing, with more and more voices being added as the verses progressed. This was more than encouraging! In fact it was quite joyful to hear the scriptures being sung in this context.

(Emphasis as found in the original article)

I’m thrilled when I hear reports like this. Many have said that the Proper of the Mass cannot be sung by the people in the pews, or even perhaps that it shouldn’t be. My personal belief is that this is not an either/or, but a both/and situation. The schola or choir can fully exercise its role while still giving the liturgical assembly a vocal role in the singing of the proper with the right resources and the right approach to the problem.

The Lumen Christi Missal – the first installment of the Lumen Christi Series – was a solution to this problem in the case above, and many people in parishes across the nation are discovering this solution day by day.

The “Simple Gradual” of the Lumen Christi Missal can be sung by parish congregations. The settings are not merely psalm tone based. They are not “just add water”, instant gratification chants, but have enough substance to endure over time. A cantor needs to model then well, and there needs to be enough repetition for the people to learn them properly, but in a short amount of time they can be sung by everyone, young and old. Even on first hearing the people will begin to respond. Such was the case in Boston. This has been my experience, and the experience of so many others on the ground week after week.

The Lumen Christi Missal can be ordered here.

Download proper chant settings from the Lumen Christi Series for the Assumption and for the Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time here.

More details will come soon on the forthcoming publications within the Lumen Christi Series. Sign up for the Illuminare Publications email list to receive updates on these new and exciting resources.