Everything you know about Allegri’s Miserere is wrong

Ben Byram-Wigfield and The Marian Consort demonstrate three versions of the Miserere by Gregorio Allegri (1582-1652). In this video, they tell how his own Sistine Choir version of harmonized plainchant became surrounded with myths, mistranscriptions, and performance mistakes that produced the legendary and beloved version we all know:

(Thanks to Peter Kwasniewski for bringing this to my attention.)

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Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum now available in hardcover

One of the handy books CMAA offers for use in the liturgy is Versus Psalmorum et Canticorum, which provides Vulgate psalm verses for use at the Introit or at Communion, pointed for the appropriate psalm tones.  The Liber Usualis and the Graduale Romanum 1961, the common books for extraordinary-form Masses, do not contain any psalm verses for the Communion antiphon, and only one for each Introit, so if your schola needs to sing those antiphons and extend them with additional verses, this is a useful volume.  We’ve offered it for some years in softcover and are now introducing a hardcover version, as requested by a reader.

Along with the new binding option, there’s a new cover for both the soft- and hardcover versions, which you can see here next to the old edition.

For ordering information, see the page at the CMAA Shop.
 

Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine addresses hymn texts

The USCCB Committee on Doctrine has offered some help in evaluating hymn lyrics for use in Catholic worship. The paper, “Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church” (PDF), lists several kinds of deficiencies that are apparent in the texts of some songs, and gives examples from a few hymns selected out of the 1000 that the committee’s members read.

The bishops’ work takes its model from a 1997 project in which an ad hoc committee led by Abp. Daniel Buechlein examined catechetical materials and described ways in which they were presenting the Catholic faith in a vague, imbalanced, or misleading way. Following the example of that report, the Committee on Doctrine listed these weaknesses in hymns:

  1. Deficiencies in the presentation of eucharistic doctrine
  2. Deficiencies in the presentation of trinitarian doctrine
  3. Deficiencies in the doctrine of God and His relation to humans
  4. A view of the Church that sees her as essentially a human construction
  5. Doctrinally incorrect views of the Jewish people
  6. Incorrect Christian anthropology

Here are some ways that texts fall short in these areas:

  • In eucharistic doctrine, texts that speak of receiving “bread and wine” without expressing that they are changed into the body and blood of Christ
  • In trinitarian doctrine, texts that avoid speaking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but instead speak of “God”, “Christ”, and “the Spirit”, as though Christ or the Holy Spirit were not also God; as the committee report frankly puts it, this is Arianism
  • In the doctrine of God, expressions that obscure the transcendence of God and seem to make him come into being as a result of human actions
  • In ecclesiology, texts that speak of human beings creating the Church, rather than the Church as God’s creation
  • In relation to the Jewish people, songs that imply falsely that the entire Jewish people rejected Christ, something which the Church does not believe or teach.

The report quotes from thirteen hymns as examples of these defects, including works by Owen Alstott, Mary Louise Bringle, Sydney B. Carter, Ruth Duck, Delores Dufner, Bernadette Farrell, Fred Pratt Green, Marty Haugen (1, 2, 3), Bob Hurd, and Carmen Scialla.

In regard to eucharistic doctrine, the area which the report says had the most common and most serious deficiencies, the report also listed examples of hymns that avoided such errors. While some of them have their own weaknesses of text or music, I’m pleased to see that the committee was in effect confirming among them that the Church’s heritage of Latin hymns is suitable for mainstream parish use:

  • Ave Verum Corpus (Pope Innocent VI, c. 1362)
  • Taste and See (Moore, 1983)
  • Gift of Finest Wheat (Westendorf, 1976)
  • Seed Scattered and Sown (Feiten, 1987)
  • I Am The Bread Of Life (Toolan, 1966)
  • One Bread One Body (Foley, 1978)
  • Eat This Bread (Taize/Batastini, 1984)
  • Look Beyond (Ducote, 1979)
  • At That First Eucharist (Turton, 1881)
  • O Sacrament Most Holy (Udulutsch, based on the Raccolta, 1958)
  • O Salutaris Hostia (Thomas Aquinas, c. 1274)
  • Adoro Te (Thomas Aquinas, c. 1274)
  • At the Lamb’s High Feast (Campbell, based on Ad regias Agni dapes, 1849)

Thanks to the Committee on Doctrine and its chairman, Bp. Kevin Rhoades (Fort Wayne – South Bend) for this helpful contribution to the Church’s liturgical work.

Discovering Langlais

Professor Ann Labounsky, a great interpreter of Langlais and Tournemire, is celebrating her 50th anniversary at Duquesne University by offering her recordings of Jean Langlais as a gift, a collection of performances spanning over 20 years and seven great organs. The blind composer, with whom Dr. Labounsky studied in the 1960s, drew inspirations from Breton airs, French noels, and of course Gregorian chant.

This performance of the Te Deum from his “Trois paraphrases grégoriennes” (as early as Opus 9!) is from 2009, at the closing Mass of that year’s Sacred Music Colloquium, in the Madonna della Strada chapel at Loyola Chicago University:

New from CMAA: Método completo de canto gregoriano

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The newest book from CMAA is a companion to one that we have carried for years. Alongside the English edition of Dom Gregorio Suñol’s chant instruction book Gregorian Chant according to the Solesmes Method, we now have the same book in the original language, Spanish, as Método completo de canto gregoriano.

Dom Suñol, a monk of the abbey at Montserrat and the president of the Pontifical Academy of Sacred Music in Rome, wrote his chant teaching book in 1905, and for years it was expanded in numerous editions and translated into several languages. This new offering is a reprint of the eighth Spanish edition, from 1943.

The book is a thorough and methodical presentation based on the Solesmes method, which he praised in these words:

My teaching, I can say, is not mine. The school of Solesmes has served the Church so magnificently, restoring her chant to her, authentic, beautiful, serious, and suited to her holiness; it burst forth one day by inspiration of the Holy Spirit from the hearts of her most enlightened sons.

Black Friday Savings on CMAA reprint books

Our partner for print-on-demand books, Lulu, is offering 30% off purchases made this weekend: that is, from November 27 to 30, 2020, so a lot of CMAA’s reprint editions will be available at a great price; just use the coupon code BFCM30 at Lulu’s checkout:

Chant editions:

Music instruction

More books about Gregorian Chant

We even have one more instructional book coming out soon! I’ll announce it as soon as I inspect the proof copy that’s in the mail on its way to me, but I wanted to give you this note about the ones already available.