Gregorian Chants in Chinese

At our sister site New Liturgical Movement, editor Gregory DiPippo writes about finding some adaptations of plainchant in classical Mandarin on the net:

…. these adaptations of the traditional Gregorian chants are the works of Fr Vincent Lebbe (1877-1940), a Belgian priest of the Congregation of the Mission (also known as the Lazarists, from the title of their mother-church in Paris), who dedicated his life to the evangelization of China. Commenting in the forum in which I found them, a native Chinese-speaker notes that they are written in classical Mandarin, which would not necessarily be easily understood by most Chinese people today. This is, of course, fully consonant with the Church’s authentic custom, which has always been to use (or create) an elegant and literarily elevated form of whatever language She prays in.

For example, the Salve Regina (simple tone):

 

More at NLM.

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2022 Organ Scholarships at Christendom College

Dr. Kurt Poterack just let us know about organ scholarships available for students at Christendom College. He writes:

Starting next spring, there will be two scholarships offered as a part of the Pope Benedict XVI Organ Scholarship program: one for an assistant organist and one for a beginning organist.  The scholarships will consist, respectively, of $3000 and $1000 per year in tuition reduction and free organ lessons.

Specifics can be found at this link: https://www.christendom.edu/admissions/2019-20-benedict-xvi-organ-scholarship/

Students will need to submit an audition video of one piece by September 3, 2021 and, if selected, will come to campus as a finalist to audition in person on Saturday, October 16.  If there are any questions, you should contact Dr. Kurt Poterack at: kpoterack@christendom.edu.

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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.)

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: