In general, the Mass consists of the Propers (chants/texts for a specific Mass) and the Ordinary (the parts of the Mass which remain the same every time Mass is celebrated). The propers consist of Psalms intended to be sung during the Entrance, Offertory and Communion processions at every Mass. Following the Second Vatican Council, musical settings of the Propers and the Ordinary were compiled in a new edition of the Graduale Romanum. Although widely neglected, the Propers remain an inspiring means by which to sing the Mass, and to immerse ourselves in Sacred Scripture. Adam Bartlett‘s Simple English Propers provides a way for musicians to sing the Proper Chants in a simple English version. Since his setting matches the mode of the original Latin chant found in the Graduale Romanum, musicians can seamlessly sing both consecutively. In this way, English speaking congregations understand the text AND the Church’s important evangelical tool of Gregorian Chant draws us into true worship.
Here is an example from the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Communion.
The sheet music for the two propers: Graduale Romanum and Simple English Propers
for the great music that you have provided us with
and for inspiring us to sing God’s praise
at each and every Holy Mass.
Gloria Singers – Norfolk Catholic 5th & 6th Grade School Mass Choir
Please accept this humble token of our gratitude for the music that you have given us through the Archdiocese of Omaha Core Repertoire. The following recordings were made during our weekly elementary school Mass. Although they include the normal background noise that is heard during Mass, hopefully, you will also be able to hear our hearts lifted up in joyful song. Continue reading
For the last few years, Sacred Heart musicians and the parish have really embraced chant at Mass. Each year, we have included more chant in English, Spanish and Latin at our weekend Masses. To date, we currently chant the propers every Sunday in English and we chant the propers at the Mass in Spanish on the odd weekends. In addition to the propers, we also sing several chant Masses; like the Roman Missal Mass, Mass XVIII, Missa Simplex by Richard Proulx, Missa de Angelis, Mass of the Angels by Richard Clark, and Mass for the Third Edition by Christopher Mueller.
What we haven’t tackled yet is polyphony. Polyphony is the handmaid of chant for Catholic music in the Mass. Throughout history, the Catholic Church has developed and encouraged chant and polyphony as the basic music for Mass. Polyphony is the combination of several voices and melodies in separate, independent melodies that blend together in beautiful harmonies. Whereas chant unites all into one, polyphony divides the singers into independent parts that weave in and out and counter each other.
These differences between chant and polyphony highlight the unique challenges in singing polyphony. Polyphony requires each singer/part to be able to sing independently from the other parts. This involves differences in rhythm, intervals, text and volume. Therefore, the singers need good pitch and confident counting.
As it turns out, Christopher Mueller, the composer of the “Mass for the Third Edition” which we sing, has begun a Foundation for Polyphony. The goal of his foundation is to encourage the singing of polyphony in all parishes. He is compiling polyphonic selections for amateur choirs so that polyphony is accessible to all. Check out his website. The images are spectacular. The audio clips will definitely inspire you to bring polyphony to your parish ASAP.
Schola Voces pro Deo stepped up its game for 2016 by a New Year’s Resolution to sing three propers every Sunday for the 8:00 am and 9:30 am Masses. We continue to sing four hymns/antiphons at the normal times, so the propers are sung as additional music immediately before a hymn/anthem/other antiphon. We also continue to sing from Fr. Samuel Weber’s new collection. We have found that listening to recordings is a great way to learn the chants quickly.